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  BLACKLINES

Poetry: 'If Only Out Of Vanity'
by Staceyann Chin
2003-07-01

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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


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