Jessie McEntee does not become Westport’s poet laureate until July 1.
But in the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that declared Roe v. Wade to be unconstitutional, she offered these thoughts:
Dear Westport neighbors:
This is admittedly a cringe-y and self-serving way of introducing myself. But as the poet laureate-appointee, I want to share a poem I wrote a few years back from my chapbook, a response to #MeToo.
It might offend you if, say, you’re a rah rah handsy sexual harasser. If you’re anti-rah rah handsy sexual harasser, but you popped a bottle of Champagne at Friday’s news, you might read it as a way of saying, HANDS OFF, INDIVIDUAL HANDSY SEXUAL HARASSER.
If you’re anti-rah rah handsy sexual harasser AND you declined to pop a bottle of Champagne at Friday’s news, you might — just might — read it as a way of saying, HANDS OFF MY BODY on a larger scale. I leave it to your interpretation.
In Defense of Vulnerable Men
hips spangled with store-bought stars,
lashes blackened with clarified soot,
and rows of roses planted upon our cheeks.
we sweep our lids with patches
yanked from clouds and seas.
Look at us —
how we ask for it
as we loll about in public parks,
midday, airing our breasts, necks —
in full view — all while saying,
Oh, no, we only want
attention from the summer’s sun.
(Does the town butcher ever declare,
I’d prefer not to
sell that pink ground chuck
I just put out on display,
bound in shimmering cellophane?)
We’re ubiquitous, diffuse —
we besmirch your efforts to stay pure
for the respectable women you keep on retainer.
You escape to church;
we become the frothing thuribles that circle about,
then the incense that swells the air,
all while we remain remote.
You’re the victims, here,
when you consider such provocations.
Why, when you think of how we tattoo ourselves
with secret codes
slipped into ankles, lower backs, divots —
aren’t those implicit dares
to come hither —
and, (please!) offer us
the favor of your closest translation?
Your Power dismantled,
your delicate manhood muddled —
you insist upon it:
we must be braille.
Fingers splayed, you lean in
to prove it.