by Vanessa Willoughby
men will not listen to your voice
unless it bends with lily-white persuasion
desire cloying, pawing like gold diggers for godliness in cleanliness.
men will not touch your skin
unless you canary sing exalted prophecies of
the lover who loves with a boxer’s bruised ego,
a crumpled fist to the face that will not close.
men will fall at your feet,
crawl on their bellies like cast-out snakes
for the barbie who bathes in bleach.
you could bury them all if you tried
but Beauty says you must whittle yourself into a stake.
to keep a man
you must hack off your tongue
shave down your nose
and renounce your race.
to keep a man happy
you must become a beauty pageant suicide bomber
a pretty young thing
bright with a hollow-headed, dressed up cockroach who will not die,
a nappy-headed and adept at the art of passing.
Vanessa Willoughby is a graduate of Emerson College and The New School. Her work has appeared on The Toast, The Hairpin, Electric Cereal, and The Huffington Post.