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Progress Note

More things on my growing poetry project, “Hey, Lady.” First, that’s a tentative title. Its eventual “real” title will have something to do with ladies.

I started writing these poems (or: this long poem in many parts) after Miss Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurzbach, won Miss Universe. I didn’t watch the pageant; I don’t watch beauty pageants. But just as I’d suspected, my social media blew up because of her. There was the Q and A about the US military presence in the Philippines. I am unmoved and unsurprised by her response. I was slightly amused by the Steve Harvey fuck up.

Haaay! Miss Philippines won Miss Universe. I was thinking about what “the universe” knows about Filipinos. Pacquiao, and now Pia. What else? Not much. My previous manuscript, Invocation to Daughters, has at its core, my concerns about Jennifer Laude, Mary Jane Veloso, Julieta Yang, Izabel Laxamana. The photographs of Xyza Cruz Bacani. Please look them up if these names are not at all familiar to you. These are Filipinos that “the universe” which Pia represents, does not know.

So for this current manuscript, I wanted to continue to write some super critical stuff about Westernized standards of beauty, the male gaze and about objectified women. That intersectionality. I’m writing those things, as I’ve been writing those things for years now. I wanted to write about manufactured images, artifice, the kinds of distorted lenses with which we view ourselves. The contradictory standards put upon us as girls and women who are supposed to do it all, and who are also supposed to let others do it all for us. I continue writing about these things as well.

But there’s more to it than that. There has to be. Why would this work in progress even be “important,” compelling to read. Why would I specifically need to be writing something like this, and why would any reader want to seek poems like this that I have written. What makes my work so “special,” and “unique.” I’m still thinking about this.

Also, I realized, wow, Pia seems really cool. Not just inoffensive, but appearing to be genuinely loving life, a cool human being. Why be a hater about her. She just is.

So I think, right now I am trying to find another way into my work. Another angle, another layer, additional tones. What am I missing.

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Hey Lady: Notes

Hey, did I ever tell you about the time that I received a letter from a 17-year old Pinoy after I did a class visit. He told me I should smile. He asked me why I’m so damn angry. He told me I don’t get none from my husband and that must be why I’m pissed. This was before I went to grad school. I wonder what ever happened to this punk. Is he terrorizing some poor Pinay girlfriend or wife with his assholery.

Who told him it was OK to talk to people like that.

What I am writing right now, for my long poem, “Hey, Lady,” is some mean shit. I’m actually kind of appalled with myself, that I am capable of writing what I’m writing. Some images that have made their way into the poem: fad diets, muffin top, cellulite, stretch marks, side boob, camel toe, self-tanning cream. My central figure is constantly being reprimanded and name called. Gloomy bitch. Cow. Lumpy blubbery fucking whale. Little chinky eyes. Your children will look like little monkeys. She can’t get anything right. She dresses like a prostitute. Alternately, she dresses like a frump or just terribly, un-coolly out of fashion. And that’s everybody’s business. She’s so undesirable that her elders tell her she’s going to be left to spoil like sour milk. She’s over-advised what beauty products and beauty treatments she must endure. However extreme. I’d been reading about cellulite treatments, hydroquinone and other potentially liver-murdering, carcinogenic skin lightening treatments. Her body is constantly disparaged. Her ass is too big. Her boobs are too small. Her hips are too wide. So damn mean.

You may wonder, what’s the point of writing such mean shit. Or maybe you’re not wondering; maybe you are with me, that this is the shit we are told on the regular, and everybody believes they have the right to belittle us constantly, voice what our shortcomings are, based upon what they expect, want, need, and demand from us in order to validate them, in order to reinforce their power over us. What they demand is contradiction. You are too much, you are not enough. I didn’t give you permission to leave. Why are you still here. Smile, be flirty. You asked for what you got.

Questions about why we must be/appear/act desirable. Desirable to/for whom. Who determines prettiness and beauty. And why must we aspire to pretty and beautiful. And why we must always be pleasant, agreeable, and why there are consequences if not.

Hey, did I ever tell you about the time that I received a letter from a 17-year old Pinoy after I did a class visit. He told me I should smile. He asked me why I’m so damn angry. He told me I don’t get none from my husband and that must be why I’m pissed. This was before I went to grad school. I wonder what ever happened to this punk. Is he terrorizing some poor Pinay girlfriend or wife with his assholery.

Who told him it was OK to talk to people like that.

Anyway, he’s really not so remarkable. I continue to be dressed down like this. That’s a constant. So then this lady project. I guess I’ll just keep writing it.