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[Spoken Poetry] Stacey-Ann Chin’s If Only Out of Vanity

April 9, 2012

If only out of vanity
I have wondered what kind of woman I will be
when I am well past the summer of my raging youth
Will I still be raising revolutionary flags
and making impassioned speeches
that stir up anger in the hearts of pseudo-liberals
dressed in navy-blue conservative wear

In those years when I am grateful
I still have a good sturdy bladder
that does not leak undigested prune juice
onto diapers—no longer adorable
will I be more grateful for that
than for any forward movement in any current political cause
and will it have been worth it then
Will it have been worth the long hours
of not sleeping
that produced little more than reams
of badly written verses that catapulted me into literary spasms
but did not even whet the appetite
of the three O’ clock crowd
in the least respected of the New York poetry cafes

Will I wish then that I had taken that job working at the bank
or the one to watch that old lady drool
all over her soft boiled eggs
as she tells me how she was a raving beauty in the sixties
how she could have had any man she wanted
but she chose the one least likely to succeed
and that’s why when the son of a bitch died
she had to move into this place
because it was government subsidized

Will I tell my young attendant
how slender I was then
and paint for her pictures
of the young me more beautiful than I ever was
if only to make her forget the shriveled paper skin
the stained but even dental plates
and the faint smell of urine that tends to linger
in places built especially for revolutionaries
whose causes have been won
or forgotten

Will I still be lesbian then
or will the church or family finally convince me
to marry some man with a smaller dick
than the one my woman uses to afford me
violent and multiple orgasms

Will the staff smile at me
humor my eccentricities to my face
but laugh at me in their private resting rooms
saying she must have been something in her day

Most days I don’t know what I will be like then
but everyday—I know what I want to be now
I want to be that voice that makes Guilani
so scared he hires two (butch) black bodyguards

I want to write the poem
that The New York Times cannot print
because it might start some kind of black or lesbian
or even a white revolution

I want to go to secret meetings and under the guise
of female friendship I want to bed the women
of those young and eager revolutionaries
with too much zeal for their cause
and too little passion for the women
who follow them from city to city
all the while waiting in separate rooms

I want to be forty years old
and weigh three hundred pounds
and ride a motorcycle in the wintertime
with four hell raising children
and a one hundred ten pound female lover
who writes poetry about my life
and my children and loves me
like no one has ever loved me before

I want to be the girl your parents will use
as a bad example of a lady

I want to be the dyke who likes to fuck men

I want to be the politician who never lies

I want to be the girl who never cries

I want to go down in history
in a chapter marked miscellaneous
because the writers could find
no other way to categorize me
In this world where classification is key
I want to erase the straight lines
So I can be me

[Transcript via Womanist Musings]

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Cecil Voorhees Jr. permalink
    February 28, 2016 3:48 am

    I trip to leave this plane.
    Just once.
    Would this bring me to one extreme?
    So far into the unknown.
    Exactly were your fears come alive.
    All our tears so deep ,nothing but the truth comes alive.
    Today we fast, only because there is no food.
    I trip on my daily opinion.
    Blow out the candle, for the new President.
    With God we gossip, Amen.

  2. cool permalink
    July 12, 2017 3:44 am


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