Emma Seely-Katz


Martyrdom

Everyone is funner than me
at the Bronx Museum of Art
whoever’s controlling the lobby music is playing
Salt-N-Pepa
and I am feeling
horribly depressed
but I obviously have to dance
and wonder if it’s okay that all the elementary school kids
on a field trip
are listening to “Push It”
msw is rolling
and being all big brotherly
which I don’t appreciate as much as I should
I’m probably just bitter that he’s cuter than me
though today my hair is making me feel
extremely Jewish
and that feels kind of sexy

I hold his hand
and think about what it means
that half the men I’ve slept with see me as a little sister figure
and that the other half
I don’t talk to anymore.
msw says he won’t compliment me until I least expect it
I never expect it
And I am so loud
And I am so red-faced
And I am so quick to expect
my elementary school “genius”
to return to me in my sleep some night
so I will once again
be the right kind of annoying.
I walk through the Bronx with soaking wet socks
feeling mostly unloved
and sweaty

I recognized yesterday
my lips have become addicted to Aquaphor
I looked it up online
there are chat rooms dedicated
to chapstick addictions
there is probably hope for me.

msw’s friend says she learned all she needs to know about me today
I am a Pisces
and carry a full-sized bottle of Advil
on my person at all times.
Why can’t the boys I fuck
see me that simply?

On the train home with Ellie,
I am a little performative with my sad sex stories
for the benefit of the man
whose hand is above mine on the subway pole
I can feel him
subtly shudder with laughter
when I talk about the boy
who started telling me about his hatred of his dad
while his hard penis was in my hand
I feel generous
and hope the man texts his friends
about the annoying white girl
on the Downtown 4.

In the Lorimer station,
I hand a homeless man a wet dollar bill
I found in my pocket and tell him to
“have a nice day”
and feel like an enormous cunt
and still hope people who might have seen think I’m
Good, if annoying
I go home
to watch The Passion of Joan of Arc
and feel
very nineteen
 
 
**
 
 
I like dick I guess

In the library alone
I watch the first half of three different movies
feel grand and impotent
and think about eunuchs
I listen to the bolero music
playing in the hair salon next door
seeping through the bathroom wall
I google the song and play it back
loud, so they can know I know
what they hear in it.
I have a date in one hour and fifty four minutes exactly,
and my feet smell like seaweed
sweating on a rocky beach
on the first hot day of the year.

The woman I love
has not looked at me in months
I try to project myself into her brain
but find I can’t make it past
this one painful curl on her cheekbone.

I masturbate to a wall of spines
of books and laugh
when I see
I Love Dick
I write the lost woman
letters in bed
in my head
and recite them to my smelly feet
lying on the other end
of the leather couch.
The music is slow trumpet now,
I will always love her,
I will always let her
play me to sleep
 
 
**
 
 
Winter Wind

Last night we kept splashing
rum onto my yoga mat. I cannot
believe I sent a video
performing a monologue I did
in 9th grade acting class
to my high school crush.
I did not ask him how he was doing in school
but he answered anyway:
pretty fucking good

I fell in love with him the second week
of freshman year when he told me
I was going to hell
he looked so tender
if only he could have
come with me
I tried to figure out by squinting
at his hands in Facebook pictures
if he still wears a
purity ring.
I’m so voracious, it scares
men away

my therapist told me
as an experiment, I should try to dress
sexy at a party, since I always
complain about how men don’t approach me.
She asked me “What do you want?
You want them to come up to you like
Hi I saw your face from across the room
and you look so
intelligent, fallible but ultimately
well-intentioned, would you like
to start a book club with me?”

I asked L if there was any way
I could make a turtleneck sexy
My special old person insoles
had me bouncing down the sidewalk,
dragging L along by the arm and saying
SHABBAT SHALOM!
to the Chasidic Jews we passed
the looks I got made me thankful
that murder is nixed
in the Ten Commandments.

My earnestness
will be
my downfall,
I’m calling it right now.
 
 

**

EMMA SEELY-KATZ is a Pisces studying sculpture and philosophy at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Her first book of poetry, Yellowing, was published by Lost Alphabet Press in January 2018. Every word she writes is a love note to the women in her life.

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