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.


Work in Progress: Rules for Ladies, and Ghost

You would be pretty if you wore the right shade of lipstick. If you counted your calories. If you brushed your hair. If you stayed indoors. If you tamed that muffin top. If you weren’t such a gloomy bitch. If your hips weren’t so wide. If you weren’t so smart all the time. If you weren’t such a cow. If you didn’t talk so much. If you quit arguing and said yes. To everything. When you retreat to the darker corners of the room, remember you are very lucky to be in the room at all. You would be pretty if you were grateful. You should post inspirational quotes on your Facebook wall to give you lift and radiance. Do a juice cleanse. Take a Xanax. Wax your bikini line. Everything will be just fine. #selfcare

* * *

A ghost is a dissolved self stressing about dark circles and eyebags, lingering in places when they didn’t know you were really there. They never knew whether you had your own tongue. They never knew whether you ate, had a warm bed, a lock on your door. Did you have a door. Whether you could sleep. They wanted your nightmares. They wanted you to wear trauma on your face, with cosmetic correction, photo finish perfection. You brushed your sunken cheekbones with natural pearl powder. In a halter top, the angles of your shoulder blades had runway strut chic. You did this because you thought it made them see you.

A ghost is a dissolved self stressing about what to wear to her own dissolution. In a backless evening dress, every segment of your spine shows. If they see your scars, they will want you to present every terrible detail. Serve these to them with the banquet you have prepared. Let them savor the fragrant steam of you, jasmine tea, coriander, bamboo. Your bones have been simmering so long, your meat just melts away. Render your fat with love, and ladle yourself into their open mouths.