Jennifer Thompson: Selected Poetry
Poetry » April 2001

From A Slut of Long Standing

I remember that flap parting painfully within me;
my hands were numb with fear and I was cold.
I bled, like most women do.
If the good Lord restored that terror and ineptitude --
would I be born again, a virgin,
squalling fresh from the womb of my darker slut-self?
I think of young prostitutes daily made innocent
with the help of needle and thread.
What odd appetites are fed
when they feign ignorance?

No single loss has gained me more.
Each lover has left me with a word
a piece of clothing, a nickname
an ethic, a perspective: a love for the Kings' loose-skipping
catch-and-shoot play;
the nasal raillery of the Beastie Boys
those lewd Brooklyn Jews;
the notion of formalism as careful exploitation
of each medium's possibilities;
the sweeping stone halls of the Getty Museum;
the bones of dinosaurs arcing sublime;
Resevoir Dogs, "Pied Beauty," Big Tool Time;
the hoot and howl of James Brown
talkin' 'bout the big payback.

And my self, seen through desiring eyes:
the poke of bone turned to grace.
I have felt a man's hands tremble upon touching me
have revelled in most intimate tissue.
No: I would rather be weathered and compromised
than lose this jumbled self
to become fresh, pink and born anew.

The Night Laughs and I Want to Run (Dr. J's Mix)

Each night she strides
through the heavy air
the blanket
the sun pulls over itself.
A wild bird's cry harshes through
the ocean's wet breath.
Nearby, the 405 bleeds into
a blur of brake lights
a slow-dripping transfusion
rig that has never seen bleach.
She radiates heat.
She talks to strangers now.

Not too long ago,
a man who had lain beside her
many times
rolled over on her.
The weight of his frame
the pure mass of his limbs
a single meaty forearm
pinned her wrists over her head.
With some slight difficulty
he split her.
He operated with professional ease
it was an unconscious wiping action.

Oh, for the touch of a stranger in that moment.
To be healed with the same thoughtless haste
with which she had been wedged open
operated upon.
She was swollen and battered in rude places now.
She needed to feel the firm touch of a nurse
a surgeon's brisk contempt
for others' shattered members.

He had lain so long beside her
his ring engaging her finger.
His hair had brushed her forehead.
She had gathered up mouthfuls of it once
when they made love.
Perhaps her very proximity
allowed him to break the body
he had mistaken for his own
the body that fell apart in his hands.

She steps light, quick, late.
The streets lie in repose
the occasional motor a gentle
circulation, respiration.
She fears nothing but a shared bed
shared breath
flesh that ceases even for a moment
to be hers.

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