A Poem by Krystal Languell


Hate Is Unbecoming

         His dreams are of the next sex vacation. Average bodies permitting anonymity that I can’t stomach. My fantasy is that I’ll find another little circus in a parking lot. A broken Zoltar machine in Baltimore one winter, I fed it quarters anyway and wished him out of my blood, wished myself tougher, more relevant by which I mean the confidence to relax.
         An inside joke for the academics sums up all the single ladies. I do my best to collect a full staff on rotation, but now my neighbor calls me in the middle of the night. The crowd reacts.
         One says, “I cannot let you.”
         One says, “Why bother?”
         One says, “Yes. Can I hinge my identity on you? I’m drowning in pursuit of a warm body.”
         In the hotel room, I might have sucked on his lip-ring hole but that never happened: loving someone to death is easy while the opposite requires a confidence-man. He asked me for money later. He never said how much he wanted.
         “You’re so green. I drank your whiskey and almost held your hand,” I thought, smug like I’d won a prize.
         The same amount of chaos. All those white people we used to be, what we tried to smooth over. Distance doesn’t matter except as protection. No place big enough for both of us.
         Observe how any gap is a convenience and each stanza will be a Pocket Pussy, the kind of subtlety you understand. You’re not so bright, but you have that generosity of spirit. This isn’t a historical fiction. I watch you taking a birdbath in genderqueer, getting touched gently on the scalp. Someone is calling you sweetheart.
         Illustration of anatomy reminds you the real orifice is always present. As if I were at risk of forgetting my own body, my part-time lover says he wants to rape me.
         He says, “I don’t mean I want to hurt you.”
         I’d punch a hole in syntax as warning: no more backhanded compliments, sentences
starting with “You’d be so pretty if…” Vulnerability is bad advice and it bums me out. Thought I’d written a fuck-you poem until I started this fuck-you poem.
         Resist medicinal relationship.
         Resist long-term baby-sitting gig.
         Safety: resist it.
         Guest bedroom, patio furniture: resist, resist.
         Search engine optimization is the great equalizer of the welfare state. You know about Google analytics and because information is hot, when you explain it’s a methadone clinic across the street I get excited about your credibility. Please don’t tell me the same story on our second date because I’d rather you didn’t black out on the first.
         A male version of the narrative will mean worse grammar, but you don’t get embarrassed. I envy your completeness, to be frank, your taint. It’s the crux.
         Self-esteem belongs to all the wrong people.
         Why didn’t we keep the shrine up a little longer? Praise the gone poet before returning. Before you write a blog post about the offerings at the altar—ready-made. Description or silence, the female privilege.
         The regular guy wants an easy victory with the Roma woman wearing pink sweatpants in the railway station. Underground gray market for metro tickets, tulips, stockings, intimissimi apparel. Controlled goods.
         My roommate wants to know why they don’t print more money. I want to know what’s
wrong with kiting a check to myself. It’s illegal to pay credit cards off with student loan money, but let me use plainspeech—a little gold star is no currency to me.
         Make me over, my impolite paper trail, and I’ll be her majesty the shotcaller.
         I smiled through narration of a drug binge fuck session. People called it brutal, loved it. A review of the evening called my poems patriotic. I was part of the problem but frozen.
         No woman would tell. Or maybe one would: correction to my argument. But this poem is for people who agree with me.
         It’s a surprise how precious you are. You’re a wild boy, a little evil in you. We want it,
don’t we? Your subculture is under attack and I’d fellate you but my sex locker is out of order. That’s why my go-to fantasy is a different dead celebrity every night.

Krystal Languell is the author of Call the Catastrophists (BlazeVOX 2011) and the chapbook many lost cause creatures (Dusie 2011). Her work has appeared recently in esque, Barn Owl Review, and Fairy Tale Review. She teaches composition at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and is part of the Belladonna* Collaborative.

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