19 February 2009

Mark Halliday

[from Mark Halliday's Little Star, William Morrow, 1987]

Venus Pandemos [excerpt]

. . .

Breasts: why should they matter?
How dumb am I? Do I belong with
Hugh Hefner's legions of Total Assholes?
The word "breast" makes me queasy;
I wish it were spelled without the "a";
somehow the way it looks like a rhyme for "yeast"
is unsettling, and the way it somehow
reminds me of "roast". . . . Roast breast of turkey . . .
In my fantasies they are indeed a kind of food --
oh this is embarrassing. They don't have to be big:
if other aspects are fabulous, they can even be
quite small; but on strangers they do have to be
definite. Why?
To help make her manifestly Other.
Why? Hey, I don't know! Do I have to explain
everything? . . . Maybe the more Other she is
the less I feel obliged to treat her as a
fellow human. There, I said it, okay?

If a woman is walking toward me
and she gets a good rating for face and breasts
I turn, after she has passed,
to estimate the buttocks.
"Ass" seems such a nasty word,
perhaps antagonistic, certainly crass --
I never use it in conversation --
yet it is the word in my mind when
I turn on the sidewalk to glance back
and judge.

I wonder if any intelligent feminists
will ever read this poem.

. . .

Little Star: Poems (National Poetry Series Books)

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