By: Sofia Sears
For Christine Blasey-Ford, in 2019
tenderness seethes the same way a car
will rut a dog’s flesh. In the headlights, see - a pale smile sneaks out of the house.
The safeword is blood loss. I associate wanting
with a dark road.
Your face: a gutting more eloquent than any sentence. We girls must
preen in our hurt like princess gowns. Self-ruin or it didn’t happen. Do you realize,
we are entitled to nothing but Trauma here. But a scraped hippocampus, but a Bad Thing.
I keep mine folded, prodded into a heart-shaped locket.
How long does it hurt?
I am beginning to think forever, but
whatever music carries a country towards itself must rise soon,
even if not soon enough.
I am trying here, I am fumbling here, I am listening to the heart make its meal of our ribs. I am knowing where to look now, where to see the bright water behind all of these men with their
callousness and their palms rosy, sacrificial. They moan for their own goodness, their own
carnival of entitlement. How many times can I taste the words and not say them right. How many bodies can I guard with the slender gun of my chest
before they estrange us from ourselves.
It mattered, it matters still.
us badgirls and our tourniquets for throats? We make goodboys cry moonstruck and fish-eyed when we
take our own damn blood. Before they can get to our pulses, let me tell you,
we were bloodsisters first. Bullshit isn’t thicker than womxn-rage, bullshit isn’t blood, their beer-suckled mouths are
ours to unjaw.
Re: Love Myth
You would have me be
core-sweet, an apple shined and exorcised. You would have me be
tasteless. Pull the tongue from its bedsprings. You would have me be
schooled in tenderness, a bathed-in sink fresh with your trimmed hair. You
would have me be a message reading paralysis in smooth-limbed text. You would
have me be the vinegar in the dark corner of the cupboard. You would have me be a speckled eye embarrassed of itself. You would have
me marooned under a prim sun, a casket of honey and nothing else. You would
be removed: this throat a lever for your toe-tapping upswing. You
would have me be the rotted pink-skins purring beneath a grapefruit tree. Anything
but the tree itself, anything but the reaching.
This skin is a sort of negotiation -
a conditional type love. The backwoods kind. Where the good girls went, where they sold their cold cattle laughter and thorn-teethed licks. The way the trees watched.
I take time to cull the slices of myself. The patchy parts. Melon-halved eardrums, plantain-fried muscles. We flipflopped stories for our mothers, we lit our scarves in the backyard. Slit the sky with such pink
sharklike breastbones, like the rosebush beneath a callus.
Oh, so we’re traumatized-traumatized. Capital T(rauma)(Klonopin-fucked or like, at least CBD
oil) type love. Let me know when you get home.
Mouthing the lyrics of a funeral chant, or the National Anthem, slung down low in our stomachs where nothing gets out. Pretend you know how to unmake a bed. Pretend you know how to tell when an avocado is ripe. Or how to shape an eyebrow. Breathing under a mattress, kale and
loose hair like vague baby-girl-first-time hickeys. Your manners come and go, fly low, inside, or don’t fly at all. You meet yourself in hell first.
Sofia Sears is a writer and activist from Los Angeles. She writes about everything from female rage to the zine culture of Los Angeles to the importance of fandoms to queer teenagers. She is a passionate advocate for reinventing the literary canon and using literature to inform, channel, and individualize (and intersectionalize) our politics and feminism. You can find her work at sofsears.com.
Interview With The Poet:
Cathexis Northwest Press:
How long have you been writing poetry?
My house always had Norah Jones or Fleetwood Mac playing. As a kid I was immersed in these sorts of gentle, unconventional poems; music was my first poetry, but because I had no musical talent, I wanted to say something some other way, wanted to author my own “Landslide” without singing. In middle school I read Charles Bukowski way too young and deified lots of white dudes, learning through copying their style, mostly, but eventually found Sylvia Plath and dove headfirst into womxn and nonbinary poets from then on -- really cultivating my preteenage angst and finding poetry the only means to do so.
Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?
Probably Emily Dickinson’s “My life had stood - a loaded gun.” Dickinson said that she knew it was poetry if it “feels like the top of her head’s been cut off,” and that poem was one of my first little decapitations.
Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?
Marilyn Hacker, Ada Limón, Anne Carson, Frank O’Hara, Olivia Gatwood, Morgan Parker. So many. Anne Carson’s “The Glass Essay” will always be my heartsong.
Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in
My process is: agonizing. Waiting. Agonizing some more. Undoing everything I’ve ever written, undoing every feeling I’ve ever held or even looked at. I type furiously in the dark a lot, have to wait until night or that uncanny morning-after-time. I am an unorganized writer, unable to follow any of the advice on writing rituals that anyone has ever given me. I make it happen, somehow; I certainly don’t understand how. But certain shards of hurt or longing lodge themselves behind my breastbone and start to poke through my skin and my shirt until they’re ripping up all my clothes, and making people uncomfortable, so I have to write when that happens, when there is nowhere else to put these little mournings in me.
How do you decide the form for your poems? Do you start writing with a form in mind, or do you let the poem tell you what it will look like as you go?
I recently read an essay by Dorothea Lasky about bees and poetry. She essentially says that every poem has bees buzzing around in it, once you know where to look. I like to think I follow the bees wherever the hell they want to go, which is often nowhere interesting or poetic. At times, I’ve become obsessed with certain forms -- there was a moment where I binged on as many villanelles as possible, until I couldn’t stomach any more, for example. Sometimes form can be liberating, sometimes it can be a cage. I like when form forces me to whittle, to refine and narrow my poetry so that nothing is redundant, and yet I like to subvert, feel that writing as a queer Latina is already a subversion of so much boring, white, suffocating form.
Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?
I don’t even know what my voice is. My voice is multiple voices, and they’re often in fierce disavowal of one another. They don’t like to meld nicely or harmoniously, but that’s okay, that’s in fact what personhood really feels like. Devour as much poetry as possible, and by that I mean not only written or spoken word poems but music, experience, visual art. Ride the train by yourself. Do things by yourself. Let mundane shit become transcendent, let yourself lean into that kind of melodrama and gather all of your voices in a room, let them fight with each other and make that visible on a page.
What is your editing process like?
I edit and edit and edit and edit. I might be a bad editor for my own work, but I’ve slowly learned how to be pretty ruthless when it comes to poetry. A lot of poets have said this, and I really believe it -- that in poetry, there is no room to be redundant. I am really mean to myself and my work, maybe more so than is necessarily healthy, but it works for me. I have people I trust and respect to read my stuff, and I encourage them to excoriate it -- but the best thing is when they recognize some glimmer of good and tell you how to pluck that from all of the other messiness.
When do you know that a poem is finished?
Not to be that person, but are any poems ever really finished? I don’t think so. I often find my work in conversation with each other, this arduous and incessant dialogue that jumps from poem to poem. When my heart is sore, almost, I feel that it is “done;” when I read a poem and can access whatever feeling I am getting at so immediately and specifically it’s as if, yes, the top of my head has been cut off, it is “finished” for the time being.