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Secondary Education for the Moraly Inept
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This is kind of a girls only sort of thing, as in if you're a boy and you want in, you better be comfortable with bleeding vaginas, and not in an "oh yeah, those fuckin things bleed" kind of way.





Cameron K. Gearen

Winner of the Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize in Crazyhorse's issue 68

Right to Remain
portions with an * after them mean parts of it were italicized



Did I ask him, chase me off the Metro
up the worn slick stairs? My profligate self

nineteen in Paris. Boulevard Raspail,
my door's hydraulic slo-mo close threatens

death. Two feet, legs, torso, shoulders, head: he's in
he's in the key the key. I smell him.

My hair still wet from the pool. The concierge
where? fuck these tiles, these mute cornices

no one home.

Door number two, glib-red and craven, its knocker polished
must / get / behind behind behind

open, SLAM, fumble, lock, thank god I'll live*
and I pant with my back to it. Cut.

*

My profligate self set my Aqua-Net "do"
on fire lighting a cigarette in the thin blue circle

of a stove burner. It didn't burn. Turned

from hair to ash without flame and lay
like sawdust on the stovetop.

*

Did I ask him, please undress
here on this boat launch? Even the heron

scissor-walked to shadow. I stayed. Be polite.*
Miguel from Mexico slid closer, opened a beer,

lit a joint. Lest he think I'm racist.* Or a prude.*
Held me hostage, swimsuited on an upended kayak

in the gathering dusk. In Spanish
your name's an aphrodisiac*, he said.
Than chanted it.

*

Despised and this proof: the box of garbage
delivered to my doorstep one Sunday morning.

I'm twenty-one and studious. The cruelest part
the red red bow. Touching, inviting. For me?*

Its insides rank and rotten. For me?*
My roommate's pallor, my false bravado.

I'm despicable and my ex a lunatic.
Receiving garbage renders me garbage.

*

Spring 1989 Parisienne uniform: Burberry plaid scarf
and matching raincoat, umbrella optional.

My French roommate, a law student,
called me a target in my American running shoes.
Tar-zhay*. She said, It's no surprise they honk*.

*

My profligate self dared

buy a fuschia wool skirt on the Boul Mich.
Wore flats all winter until chilblained.

The avenue snow-logged and numb,

me the only mittenless one, always
that bright flag ending at my knees.

*

I dream my husband's African friend rapes me.
Reverend, I'm reverent. Cajoles, at first.

Bright kitchen. Folds my body
from behind and desecrates.

*

My French roommate said, If you ride the Metro
with your hair wet from the pool
everyone will know you're American*.

We don't do this. We dry our hair.
What did you expect?*

*

It's not the rape but its after-snowball-
wall of neighbors stacked in the street yelling Sue!*-

that screws my jaw tight and wakes me,
achy, at dawn. I never should have told

(them).



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