i chased you —apollo and daphne— strands of long hair catching in my outstretched desperate fingers. you laughed our anger incandescent wild your fear your spite for me my breathless adoration my desire for you. i reach reach reach. (Your skin turns to bark When I catch you, The best escape.)
“You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your creative muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories – science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”—Ray Bradbury (via venebelle)
“Mathilde stitched while William the Conqueror was off to war. She was capable of… more than loyalty. Devotion. She waited for him, she stitched for years. And if he had come back broken and defeated from war, she would have loved him even more. And if he had returned mutilated, ugly, full of infection and horror, she would still have loved him; fed by pity, by a sharing of pain, she would love him even more, and even more, and she would never, never have prayed to God, please let him die if he can’t return to me whole and healthy and able to live a normal life. …if he had died, she would have buried her heart with him. So what the fuck is the matter with me?”—Louis (Angels in America, Act 2 Scene 3)
White walls Plaid skirts Knee-high socks With perfect folds White arrows down To perfect suede shoes White walls Tradition
This is your perfection: She’s tall, thin Blonde hair, blue eyes That girl is so beautiful She turns saints’ faces Green with envy Rich family Plenty of donation checks The kind of girl You see in the brochures
We met freshman year Crowded unladylike onto bleachers I thought Raphael must cry in the afterlife Because he didn’t live long enough To paint her The curve of her nose The slight point of her ears Like the elves In those video games she likes The delicate, renaissance wrist
Wrists bearing scars like Stigmata Hidden behind black wristbands Thisis your perfection
Your feminine genius Sits in the back of every class Afraid to speak She tattoos her scars Into plain, spiral notebooks Primary colors
I tell people I went to Catholic school And they snicker Because repression is sexy Forbidden fruit To those stereotypes: The sluts with the Perfect hair and money And daddy’s liquor cabinet Who fuck because Clean white hallways Don’t make them feel alive Not like this These are the victims of your fantasies
We choke with it, Lower our voices, Look over our shoulders I learned To talk about sex Without euphemisms Without the burn of that Catholic guilt in my gut Through games of truth or dare Furtive Not too loud now
We’re meant to be mothers, In our skirts and Our socks and Our perfect suede shoes We’re not meant To dance the way we do To uncross our legs To say words like fuck Fuck Fuck Do not be afraid
We live in the gaps, Every step outside a classroom A sigh of relief We live in code, In secrets, We share a new language, All illusion, subterfuge, We are all good liars, Forged by years of religion classes Chiseling tenets into our bones
We know how to make you love us
But it isn’t your love That we want
Love is what put us here Love created us
Love Repeated until you don’t even know What it means anymore Because you can justify anything With that word Like you know best
Like a crucifix Hanging from my neck Could make me feel less Like I’m suffocating.
So remember last week when I was being a huge geek? (Like that's not every day.)
Okay, okay, flash back to me geeking out about the last episode of Deadliest Warrior. You know, George Washington vs. Napoleon, etc etc ra ra patriotism (not really). We on the same page now? Okay.
So this week’s episode was William the Conqueror vs. Joan of Arc. Which, as a total history nerd, made me very, very excited. The actual episode, at least at the beginning, just made me facepalm.
The thing about this show is, it’s kind of like a meeting of the minds between a bunch of geeky, history-loving computer programmers and a couple macho, testosterone-fueled jocks. It’s a lot of big guys in armor with big swords posturing at each other. And, since the show is called Deadliest Warrior and is on Spike, the target audience is that 18-49 male demographic. So clearly, female representation has been a problem.
So color me excited when we finally got a woman on this goddamn show. Because I love it, I do, but that fact was really starting to tick me off.
All things considered, though, I really should have expected the beginning of this show. All the hype about a “Medieval Battle of the Sexes” should have clued me in to how this was going to go. But, unfortunately, I am an incurable optimist.
So when one of the hosts of the show (I forget which one, but really they’re mostly interchangeable) says, “We’ve been waiting for a female warrior to step up,” I just stared at my TV screen in disbelief.
Really. You’ve been waiting for a woman to step up. Really.
Let’s talk about the female erasure here, okay? Past episodes of Deadliest Warrior have included the following: vikings, samurai, pirates, Celts, KGB, CIA, and yakuza to name a few. Okay. Now what do all the groups I mentioned have in common? They all, either in the past or present, have included female members. Not to mention all the historical examples of women leading armies. Joan of Arc, of course, Boudicca (one of my favorite historical figures of all time), Princess Pingyang, Artemisia of Caria, etc. I would even include, say, Queen Elizabeth I.
But of course, there’s no talk about that on Deadliest Warrior. Nobody on the episode about the Celts mentioned that one of the most famous Celtic warriors, who lead a huge army and nearly beat the Romans out of Britain was a woman. No one mentions that there were famous female samurai (Tomoe, anyone?). No one mentions Anne Bonny or Mary Reade. Of course not.
And then, of course, there’s the debate about “female intuition” vs. “male physical force.” Which, okay. Now I’m flashing back to my senior religion class, thank you ever so. I mean, come on. We’re really going to rely that much on stereotypes here?
Of course, the real question here is pretty easy.
Let’s face it, William the Conqueror has a lotof combat experience, and he’s a badass, no question. But the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066, and Joan of Arc doesn’t come on the scene till the 15th century, well into the 100 Years War. So the clear winner here is Joan, just by technological standards alone. But there was a point about fifteen minutes into this episode where I really started to think that everyone was just assuming William the Conqueror was going to win.
Normally, I wouldn’t mind. I mean, I usually have an idea of the winner from about ten minutes into the episode myself. But there was this veneer of misogyny over this entire episode that is just not on. Ever.
Okay, yes, being 5’4” and 125 pounds is going to put you at a significant disadvantage fighting someone who’s a lot taller (can’t remember the exact number) and about 250 pounds. I can understand that. But when you start going on and on about how she’s a woman, when you look shocked that one of her stats on the X-factors of the battle was higher than William’s, when you keep harping on these feminine characteristics, that’s not just casting her as the underdog. That’s completely ignoring the possibility that a woman can kick just as much ass as a man. And if you don’t find a problem with that, I think there’s a huge problem with you.
So really, you deserve the fact that Joan of Arc kicked William the Conqueror’s ass. The first female warrior on the show, and that bitch won.
So next time, show a little respect, okay?
Because some of our female warriors aren’t as saintly as Joan. And I can promise you, if you ever told Boudicca some of the things you said about Joan in this episode, she would have hacked your head right off, spit on it, and put it up on a stake.
Two boys And maybe he was like you With a matching name Matching plastic guns Firing Water or foam bullets Matching forts In the backyard At the top of the stairs Matching dreams
I look at him sometimes And I see you With the Cherub curls, golden, With the Blue eyes fading to hazel With the Honest heart You were everything I wasn’t You were world war ii posters You were what america lost
I look at him and I see you The way you should stay
Some days, He doesn’t see me Some days, He says hello In Pashto instead of English Some days, He makes me laugh Some days, He breaks my heart
Some days, He walks around aimlessly Until he remembers He’s not in Afghanistan anymore
Some days, He jokes with me About the other lesbian he knows With the tattoo Adorning the inside of her lower lip
Some days, It gets so bad He takes the pills He thought he’d never need
One day, Early April, With the first fingers of spring One of the last days We could wear jeans You in those stupid Pac sun shirts you wear Me in my rainbow bracelet The kind of outfit You’ve been making fun of Since we were eight
One day, Sitting in the passenger seat Of my junky fucking car I like you better when you have a girlfriend I told you
You just laughed I like you better when I have a girlfriend Too
What I meant was: You and I Treat girls the same way All dorky jokes And old fashioned gentlemanly adoration We’re breakfast in bed people
What I meant was: I wish you knew that
One day, We lead opposing armies In nerf gun offensives Because we’ve always been opposites Do you remember When I was the only one Who could make you stop crying?
I can’t tell you not to go But I wish I had that power The telepathy of a sister I wish I could make you Want to stay Wish I could Force feed you memories Wish I could Tell you I was never the perfect one
I’d pry that plastic gun from you If I could
You’re five years old And all you want is to be a marine You’re sixteen years old And your google searches are all ROTC and the few the proud
I wish we were kids again With your blonde curls and My waist-length hair I wish we were Playing tag on our bikes Or sneaking a swim in the creek Or setting fire to old schoolwork I wish things were simple I wish watching the news wasn’t a battleground Crossfire arguments I wish I could tell you
When we were little, I was afraid of fireworks You loved them, Even then, Begging to help dad set them alight
He can’t watch Fourth of july fireworks anymore They sound too much like bombs
Please don’t ever lose that Please come back
I’ll come home for the fourth Hug you in your uniform, your shaved head Enjoy firefly summer nights The way we used to, Chasing them across baseball fields Sliding laughing Home Safe
BUT THEN YOU MET ME AND EVERYTHING WAS OKAY BECAUSE WE ARE JANIS AND JOAN AND WE’RE GOING TO MAKE PRETENTIOUS FILMS AND LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER AND HAVE A STAR TREK THEMED WEDDING IN IOWA WHAT THESE ARE THINGS WE DISCUSSED WITHIN HOURS OF MEETING.
OH MY GOD YES YES YES YES YES
ASKLDJKASDJ DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN WE FIRST MET (LIQUOR DRINKS AND CIGARETTES, ALL THE BOYS TAKING BETS, CREDIT CARDS, SO IN DEBT? sorry i love butch walker you know how much i do didn’t i play him for you once and swoon over how sexy i thought that song was because it really is hot as hell ANYWAY)
…… AND WE WERE AT THE DINNER TABLE
AND WE WERE FLIRTING UP A STORM
OF COURSE I DO. Though I don’t think he’s ever been as uncomfortable as the first time I referred to him as my girlfriend. His face was fucking priceless.
Also, oh my god, I told you about how my mother thought you were my girlfriend for the longest time and WOULD NOT LET IT GO. It was kind of an afterthought at first, before our first sleepover she was like, “Oh, my god, I just realized I have to be worried that ‘sleepover’ means ‘have all the lesbian sex’ now.” And then she kind of latched on to it and I kept telling her you weren’t but she didn’t actually believe me until like two months after we became friends. I’M TOTALLY COMFORTABLE SAYING THIS IN FRONT OF EVERYONE ON THE INTERNET WHAT.
YES CAN WE PLEASE BECAUSE I THINK THERE IS A VERY VERY DEPRESSING LACK OF TALK ABOUT THESE BAMF GORGEOUS BRILLIANT LADIES AND ALL THE INCREDIBLY HOT INTERSPECIES LADY SEX THEY WERE CLEARLY HAVING ALL THE FUCKING TIME I MEAN SERIOUSLY YOU GUYS
Three boys Crammed into the backseat Of a van The color of overripe plums Pressing outward Toward tinted windows Barely cracked open Against summer heat (You could cook a Pizza on that asphalt, Bubbling dough Under a Tennessee sky The color of 64 pack Crayola Not eight) Our shirts hang abandoned Drooping over bucket seats Loud late-90s prints Hand me downs We don’t wear uniforms yet (Tangled in terrified blankets Years later Unable to sleep I press my hands to my chest I think I’m dying) In my imagined history, I know the significance of this moment I recognize my refusal To wear a shirt on hot days, Pizza on asphalt days, As rebellion (I don’t know About bra burning Until later Haven’t yet discovered The definition of androgyny) Three boys Sit crammed into The backseat of an old, Purple van Only one isn’t a boy Not exactly (When I tell my mother Of the lumps in my chest Hands shaking She laughs I can’t forget To think of them as intruders) In my imagined history I answer to she Only because It is expected In my imagined history When my brother asks, With bright cruel eyes And a face like mine, If I’m even a girl, I don’t cry (But I do) I do a lot of wishing these days Wishing is a lot like prayer That’s how I know I’m good You close your eyes And think really hard You try to infuse every silent word With all your desperation Every bitter ounce (The difference is between Crosses and stars But they’re both the same When it comes to reliability) In my imagined, Wished-for history I always know I am born with hir Tattooed into the Malleable bone of my skull (I am here) I am here. And in this reality, This fragile, expanding universe, Ze doesn’t know hirself Not yet. (I am hir)
we took it from tennessee to chicago to detroit cincy cleveland wet heat boiled up steam burning our cheeks boiled thick and dry boiled up hard steel and rust and broken glass you know where these cities have been gritty wiry old crust punks carnegie’s pissed off leftovers children of divorce neglected the delinquent problem children blanketed with graffiti tattoos mangled brass knuckles playgrounds in overgrown vacant lots crumbling roman ruins studs on leather jackets knights in armor jagged glass from broken windows slice through thin chests broken fingers playing punk rock’n’roll blues dirty motown switchblades past twanging protest muggy slick smog mirages go Johnny go we took it from my dog my girl my tractor to rockaway beach took it down on the street to the land of the ghost cities to the voodoo capitals of America population centers of the living dead our dark, dirty corners gritty photographs the world has texture here doesn’t slip through your fingers like those southern cities they have scars nobody dreams here anymore the lights are too bright for sleep sharp, gunfire nights shouting the blues into vacant alleys and parking lots howling through the smog and dusty, polluted streets clubs with sweat-drenched pilgrims rusted bridges over brown rivers these are the theaters of apocalypse the world doesn’t end in cities like nashville elvis’s grin going up in flames
You were mine On one of those hot, spontaneous nights When you crane your neck Searching for stars Among satellites and Swooping, landing planes Curving into my hands Glossy, slick, catching light Fluorescent fireflies
(Are you praying? my father asks, Later, From the driver’s seat. I press my face To the full-color portrait of my idol And say, no.)
“Life is filled with holes, Johnny’s laying there, his sperm coffin
Angel looks down at him and says, “Oh, pretty boy,
Can’t you show me nothing but surrender ?”
Johnny gets up, takes off his leather jacket,
Taped to his chest there’s the answer,
You got pen knives and jack knives and
Switchblades preferred, switchblades preferred
Then he cries, then he screams, saying
Life is full of pain, I’m cruisin’ through my brain
And I fill my nose with snow and go Rimbaud,
Go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud,
And go Johnny go, and do the watusi, oh do the watusi”—