August 10, 2018 >

August 10, 2018 >


sarah collage.png

My Brain is a Slut

by Sarah Cook


My Brain is a Slut

What’s so wrong with castration? Everything I like is traced with everything I’ve ever liked. It’s impossible to like something without diving head first into an embarrassment of life. An overflow of life. More and becoming and too many and here’s another one: I once liked a ridiculous man. I once liked my own diminishing returns. I once liked my father. One time my brain lit fire to the small pile of interest still curled in my lap. Sleep and fire and rescuing—who needs it? I’ll never stop being mad at the ocean. How it mimics my mourning. How it makes me sleep later than I mean to. How it forced me to swim out to you. The you of my young girl establishment. I don’t even love the ocean. Who could bring herself to love what defines itself against her? The ocean was born of a small girl’s singular disgust. The ocean is the best framework we know of to distinguish between swallowing and being swallowed. The ocean is pregnant.

 

My Brain is a Slut

Here is my poet’s voice: booming. Here is my inside voice: advertisement, echo of what you once saw in a mirror, a halting accommodation. How did it get there? At least I’ve slowed down my cave climbing. At least I still remember the words to that song. The cave sleeps around the animal dwelling inside. If that isn’t motherhood you might as well take away my internet right now. You might as well commit to the storefront of another girl, any other, she isn’t hard to find, everywhere, she’s practically me again. The clothes you wear say something about the shape of your body, whether you’ve used it fully or too often. Your skin, how it presses up against the surfaces that existed long before you. Like this coffee shop. Ancient. Historic. Nostalgic. I’m so nostalgic for a cup of coffee. I remember that cup of coffee like it was my own son. That cup of coffee was like a father to me. That cup of coffee couldn’t keep his hands to himself, his eyes.

 

My Brain is a Slut

Or we could cut up the women. Cut up their magazines their nail polishes their curled everything. Women curl toward themselves and each other. Just commit already! Or cut it out. Sharp, hysterical, can cut through anything. Women are like diamonds: man’s best friend. In order to accrue more women. Women are like men through the occasional choice of pantsuit. The occasional man is already more than most women will ever be. Jack of all pants, so many to choose from. Either rumble or acoustic. Either longer or shorter. Usually shorter. Usually busted. Caught in the headlights. Women are like deer: losing their mothers left and right. Or we could cut up their credit cards. She’s a cut up! Get this woman a backpack. Get this woman a purse and a handkerchief and a long list of glass objects to carry on her person, without exception. Without refrain. Or we could cut up her catchphrases. Anything too insistent on being said.

 

My Brain is a Slut

If nature is an invention, then sex is too. Most poems are just trying to make a point, sometimes at great cost. Most stories. The cost of exaggeration, of embarrassment, of money. Never all three at once. My money is an exaggeration of itself. Anything too big is an immediate embarrassment. But which gender? Most poems forget their initial reason for bringing stuff up. How else can deep investment and social consequence invade the casual reader, the man or boy or older man unwilling to consider the slow crusade of empathy and cross-stitch by any other means, unwilling to trade guns for blankets and tampons. Give me a blanket, a tampon, a sunny day and an obituary and you’ll never hear from me again. Men! When they’re straight, they’re crooked. Nothing sticks to them, even words. “Hysterical.” “Soft.” He’s the soft-pretzel of my heart. I mean the gruff salesman, of course. Ugly and insistent. When I grow up I want to be a caricature of patriarch. The head of the head of the family. Vulnerable from the scruff up only. Howling at all times of the month. How else is complaint normalized? How else is sensitivity supposed to hide in its own brutal strength? Come back and you’ll hear me yelling at the tail end of this thunderstorm. The lightning and the crashing down and the regret. My tail end was struck by the invention of lightning, beautiful and hot. My tail end was asking for it.

 

My Brain is a Slut

Accommodation is exhausting because nobody sees it. They just swim in the embarrassment of riches, your small body bending and stretching, keeling over, alterations made normal, like water. When has water been anything but abnormal? Being a slut is exhausting. But most of the time I’m not, which makes me feel better, here in this bright room. But most of the time it’s dark, which makes one thing lead to another. Bumping into the worst and worst and worst kind of self, even when I’m not awake. Even when the interstitial space between dreamworld and real life is a bang and a poof and a sizzle. Even when feelings are uncanny, a word-wearing mask. I dressed up as a slutty sentence for Halloween, but everyone mistook me as a confessional poem. This one is a response to something I haven’t even met. To the next person I will marry. To the obligation of the page, which should replicate the body producing it: How it needs space to cradle its content. How it tears in two, effortlessly. How a living something is always the product of a dead something else.

 

Sarah Cook's recent work has appeared in So to Speak, ASAP/J, Bright Lights Film Journal, Culturework, and at freelancefeminist.com. She lives and works and writes on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. Her latest project involves growing sunflowers despite crappy soil and trying really hard to love cats and birds at the same time.