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2 poems by Jaimie Gusman - The Feminist Wire

2 poems by Jaimie Gusman

Swoon

 

When I pass out I have visions of my soul.

My soul is a large blue flicker with white glow.

 

I pass out two or three times a year.

The first time I held my breath before jumping

 

in the pool – I was ten or eleven years old.

When I jumped I had already began to lose

 

consciousness and the dream began

where I was floating inside a huge bubble

 

in an ocean full of bubbles—each sphere

held a fish or a seahorse, sometimes a wolf.

 

When I didn’t come up to the surface my father

jumped in after me. I felt his arms beneath

 

my diaphragm and even though I couldn’t breathe

I felt his lungs, those heaving boulders, against

 

my spine forcing me back into life above water.

I knew what I was doing, but I never told him

 

because daughters can’t be suicidal, they must

learn to grow fins for balance, swim side to side.

 

 

*

 

It’s hard not to be so personal—some myths

are so embedded in your history, wait,

 

some histories are so embedded in your myth

that even breathing requires a rhythm.

 

Instead you must catch yourself as you fall or

learn how to let go and hope you’ll wake up

 

with wings larger than your body, larger

than the soul you want to fit into your body.

 

Sometimes I will pass out when I drink

too many whiskeys in short glasses with ice.

 

My skin gets cold and the dream comes back.

Why is everything in circles? Why don’t we collide?

 

Sometimes when I’m drinking so hard I cry

and can only breathe between long images

 

of panic: the roof of the house crumbles,

my lover reaches his hand down my throat

 

and pulls out a long beam made of wood,

my sister is watching from a hole in the floor.

 

*

 

When my bubble reaches the water’s surface

I’m afraid it will burst, or worse, the air

 

will leak through a small hole and fill the bubble.

I will be forced to take long breaths of fresh air.

 

I grew up on a peninsula, surrounded by salt

water and mangroves, crooked like hooks.

 

They stay alongside you as you cut through

the ocean, like your arms are wings made of blades.

 

No one asks if you want to stop swimming.

They only ask when you want to dry off.

 

When I reach the shore, I pull the bubble

behind me and drag it to the edge of the beach.

 

Is the bubble my soul or just a shadow?

It deflates on land, heavy as a pile of wet rags.

 

I unfold the bubble and lay it out like a blanket.

First I sit next to it, then I put my back against

 

the cold flat surface – but we are stitched

so closely together, only inches apart.

 

*

 

When I wake up, I am in bed and someone

is feeding me toast, stroking my face.

 

I cannot move freely from the bubble

and the bubble cannot move without water.

 

I’ve seen my soul up close and the flickering

isn’t light emanating from the outside.

 

Instead, my soul is a pool of water dripping

back into itself like a thousand round waves.

 

When I wake up, I am in bed and someone

is feeding me toast, stroking my hair.

 

The only dreams I have of my mother

are the ones where she helps me put stars

 

back into the sky. They are glow stars,

and when you rip the paper off the backs

 

they stick to anything, so I put some on her skin.

When the stars are gone she turns into a wick.

 

My mother burns feet up, the ash consuming her

from the ground to the ceiling of my room.

 

 

 

The Game

 

A thousand nasty bros

made the internet unsafe.

 

While they posted about

turkey basting I climbed

 

a 300ft ridge, took off

my hat, and like a true

 

mountaineer, spit wildly

into the dry and brittle brush.

 

*

 

I looked it up on Google,

and thank the lord

 

turkey basting isn’t

what I thought it was.

 

Some rape joke, some

way to interpret female

 

bodies as bird dinner

drowning in its own bath.

 

*

 

Instead, turkey basting

refers to the insertion

 

of meth into the rectum.

It also refers to ‘bitches

 

who use a turkey baster

to gather sperm from a used

 

condom in order for said bitches

to impregnate themselves,’

 

*

 

But let’s not talk privacy

as body, let’s talk about privacy

 

as face: Rene Zellweger’s body

walks into a Hollywood event

 

with an entirely new face.

A face easy to photograph,

 

easy to write about, slim

and regular, even smiling.

 

*

 

A woman’s trademark, the full

face, her youthful, cheeky glow,

 

that seems to effortlessly

exude her [supporting] character

 

was gone—like erased,

like a stone-cold memorial erected.

 

*

 

Who was replaced by this Rene

we all knew as a face we could

 

recognize and photograph,

and blog about –isn’t this awful?

 

The face is not a veil, it isn’t

promised to us, but yet, we

 

are disappointed by chance,

by movement, by difference.

 

 

*

 

The bros are still posting

about basting, “booty bumping,”

 

“plugging,” “shafting” and

“potato thumping” but what synthetic

 

drug are we keistering?

Ladies, our heads reach

 

our asses, too—but that mountain,

thank god I am climbing it, am I right?

 

 

 

JaimieJaimie Gusman is a freelance writer in Kaaawa, HI and founder of Mixing Innovative Arts, Honolulu’s longest running reading series. Jaimie has three chapbooks: Gertrude’s Attic (Vagabond Press, 2014), The Anyjar (Highway 101 Press, 2011), andOne Petal Row (Tinfish Press, 2011). Her work can also be found in the journals Moss Trill, Sonora Review, BODY Magazine, Trout, Mascara Review, Unshod Quills, LOCUSPOINT, Capitalism Nature Socialism, Hearing Voices, Hawaii Women’s Journal, Spork Press, Shampoo, Barnwood, DIAGRAM, 2 River Review, and others.