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May 30, 2013 Poetry

3 Poems

Gabby Bess

3 Poems photo



The alarm goes off and I wake up
to perform my critically acclaimed
sentience in my morning posture
I seek to achieve the impossible angles of a bird
lying dead in the road – with its head and its wings
folded down into the asphalt from the vantage point
of a crane shot.

To make direct eye contact
with the camera is to move the perspective from
the watched to the watcher or to present an emotion
as a publicly observable signifier,
a voyeuristic experience –
The Feel Good Movie of the Year
was my nickname in high school
and as is cinematically compelling,
I brush my teeth for the duration of sand
moving from the top of the blue plastic hourglass
to the bottom. "Look at this existence.
This pathetic, fallible, wonderful body,"
you can say rhetorically, sarcastically, or earnestly
and still achieve death.

Look at me falling in love with fallible bodies.
Look at me performing emotional labor,
my arms are strong enough
to work a tract of land:
The impatient man calls me
a bitch at my place of work
and the upward movement
of my facial muscles causes
my eyes to wrinkle, a smile.
This is a method of intention setting.

I seek a husband
with broad shoulders and a symmetrical face
A hard worker, whose value is in the width
of his chest. I do not want
men that can teach me. There is nothing
more that I want to know; free of want,
I can’t use men in the same way
that they can use me. "Give up
on art and love," you can say rhetorically,
sarcastically, or earnestly and still achieve death.
I wouldn't be a good wife,
but I would be a wife
in a way that was cinematically compelling.

In my dream last night
there was a factory farm
that performed full body castration;
I went there
to lie with the women who wanted
to find a calm somewhere.
I became a body
and my sentience became someone else’s
problem as I awoke thinking,
“Where is my value?” as if I had misplaced
my lipstick again.


I watch the woman at the end of the cul-de-sac,
through my car window with the pleasure
of my internal monologue thinking “cul-de-sac”
and feeling distinctly suburban, as I drive
at slow speeds and gentle angles,
as to not run over the deaf children that live inside
of the cul-de-sac

The deaf children play secretly, exclusively,
a game of hide and seek, as I have never seen them
But I drive in gentle angles to feel amused and calm
thinking about humans that can go unseen

The woman at the end of the cul-de-sac
doesn’t walk like a secret but she walks soft-bodied,
like the women in poems are,
and she retrieves her mail with a small key
from the community mailbox; though she is soft-bodied
she walks without the hand of a man around her waist

The sun comes into my face
through my windshield and
I feel my internal monologue
thinking, “The Female Gaze.”
I watch the words pass
inside of my head
and project
onto the sun through my eyes.
At this moment I know
that the woman in the cul-de-sac can see
the words, “The Female Gaze”
written on the sun.
Now her internal monologue is thinking,
in all caps and she feels suspicious but she pulls her face
at me to nod and smile

And I pull my face at her to nod and smile,
quickly averting my eyes before she looks to me
to improve her life or teach her something about it.
(Sometimes, my eyes suggest things about me–when
they go off talking on their own–that just aren’t true,
for example,
when I was there with you on the night
that you asked me if I was sad
because my eyes were heavy and wet with tears
and I couldn’t quite look at you straight on,
I was only sad
in the way that I was supposed to be
when I was there with you.)
And I know that she also averts her eyes
because the sun presents itself
as an empty light source–

We do not earn salary
for this emotional labor.



Supine, I am watching TV.
In the dark, light moves against the wall
behind me as the scenes change on the TV
and nothing else happens
but night turning back into day. I witness it:
The nothingness, the feeling of wasting my day
off from work. I think about ingesting caffeine
to make myself more of a person
that is motivated and interested in life.
5 am on a Friday is a time that doesn’t exist to me
when I can sleep and my father is pulling
the trash can out onto the sidewalk.
Tonight/This Morning I have a distinct sense
of 5am and sadness in my stomach as I lie supine
but I can’t cry like this
because of gravity, maybe. Who do I need
to email to improve my life?
When Kanye says, “Ain’t no tuition for having
no ambition/and there ain’t no loans
for sittin your ass at home,” he is making
eye contact with me.

Outside there is a singular bird
seemingly shrieking out
into nothing, performing the sadness
that I project onto her. It sounds
like a nervous breakdown,
I know this. I feel it
in the vibrato and the tree
branches, given temporary meaning,
clutched by light bird feet,
feel an immense sense of duty
to console. Feeling an immense
sense of duty, I want to call back to her
but the bird wouldn't understand
that she wasn't alone. There is nothing
I can immediately do
to fulfill my sense of duty to everything
that is suffering. Keep in mind,
that I would hurt someone
if I knew who to hurt. Am I
the ultimate goodness?

On the TV,
Steve Buscemi looks sad, the way his eye folds sag,
though he smiles and laughs
with slicked back hair.
He waits tables through the TV screen,
making the lights move on the wall behind me. 
I lie and I watch him
I feel myself not cry
I hear the bird shriek
and then become apologetic sounding:
softer, slower, desperate,
and then silent to my ears.

But the bird can shriek at differing decibels,
heard or unheard to me, and I can only remain
supine; Steve Buscemi can always wait tables
through the TV screen like this,
even in death,
and I can watch him.

image: Andromeda Veach