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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

Sestina for The Girl in The Horror Movie; Fallingwater Outside the Met

By: Brennan Bogert

Sestina for The Girl in The Horror Movie

The girl in the movie   never meant to find the body

just knew         bad things will happen              when they will:

knew the car crash                 rended roses       and ax wound

would be the same pastel     colors of her bedroom

and was all too familiar with blood.

The girl in the movie never meant                 to be the monster.

She knew         from the movies           that the monster

and her had some similarities:             a wounded body

desire                too much time alone   too much time in one room.

She always seems                       a bruised knee a tear                 to be nursing a wound

and she walks past the fence posts like spears                            full of will,

She knew         from the movies           to step over                      the blood.

It always takes so long to notice          on the ground the blood

to see                tugging on the sheets  the monster

to feel the monster make                      its way into her             body

and it happens, alone   in her baby                 blue bedroom

touching the swell                       of bite the shrapnel                of self                  the wound.

It always takes so long to notice           how the self                  becomes            the will.

The self becomes the will when                          it will.

When the brag of blood

says it’s always better dead     than bodied weird                     better monster

than girl with eyes                     and voice averted                      better a body

than an empty boy’s room.

The self becomes the will when                          it picks the wound.

One night        moon-silled      and soil-gowned         she slips her hand into the wound

Is a woman     a grave absence                  who will

break her body and make it                       a body

like a tomb                       like a choice of                monster?

Is a woman      the monster                    who chooses to know where the blood

comes from                     soil-gowned                     in her room?

It hurts to change the body         to           never know a womb except my mothers                      except my lovers             what wound

we have to fill with velvet and pastels                                 what will

we have had                  to come from blood 

and still choose this    hybrid kind of monster

It hurts to add               sex on sex of body.

The girl in the movie   looks at her body                              and soft white-lighted room

and then will                 in the mirror      find the thread stitching wound.

The girl in the movie   looks at her blood          and is not              no matter where the blood comes from

                           a monster.

Fallingwater Outside the Met

I get off  at  the  station  for  the  museum  &

want to write that the station is me

busy straining against the things that run so

loud within it                  like the blood thrum       

but I can’t because it isn’t.                      T h a t

tunnel is a deliberate building.          Walking

along                this body      is listless unlisted           nameless         against glass

pushed against          &  stacked  &  licked

like I like           that until I don’t     I bleed

until I don’t      & build a statue of scab a house where I haunt a bottle & myself.

There’s Fallingwater  in  an  ad  for  a  fashion

line.       The Frank Lloyd Wright house, a well-dressed model              &   s a l v a g e d

brick.                  What body is this?                All

plaster & paint                  Her legs spread like a

compass           pointing toward               w h a t

must be the future.

I think my queerness is a state of becoming      my boyishness           a state of drones. The girl in the ad            is an addition to the

house which wouldn’t match a skinlessness

or my fishskin or the kind of speckled back I

bring to bed.

It needs another kind of fabric                        a

lightweight muslin kind of skin              t        o

compliment the end table & clothes.

I wonder            if of all               the buildings I

walk past                           one was not built out

of bodies.                      I wonder if there is one

building that is not over a grave.           I worry

so much that my body &           all the others I

have intimated               imitated           stroked

& streaked                       will remain like that.

I wait for tits to flower from the soft cement

of my chest.                          I wait for light like

the winter glare of headlights on snow the glare of eyes on my partner & I pacing              from a hard step      a

crunching violence                     something so

natural we wish it weren’t              our nature


In the museum the body is broken until it is

beautiful          until it is marble.             B  u  t

will our bodies ever be  the  kind  museums

want to see      outside of photograph

fantasy              & crime-scenecrime-scene

              & outsider art?

& it occurs to me           that museums

more than anything else            are a record

               of the way a body can hurt        t   h   e

way skin can crack         & limbs be lost &

the portrait falter.           All day               one by

one       I watch the others see the statues

              bodies exposed             & feel

them become anonymous       b e c o m e  the

same brokenness                        crackedness    I

know each of our bodies to be.


Brennan is a transgender poet. Her work has appeared include Iowa’s Best Emerging Poets, Go Magazine, INK LIT MAG, The Paha Review, Little Village Magazine. She is currently pursuing her M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. You can find her @brynnfest on twitter and at

Interview with the Poet:

Cathexis Northwest Press: How long have you been writing poetry?

Brennan Bogert: I think there are two answers to this to question. The first is that I have been writing ever since I was a child—or so I’m told—but I think that for children, in particular, poetry is a kind of verbal tic; it’s something without any real intention and part of learning how to move the language muscle. The other answer, probably the more truthful answer, is that every time I sit down to write a poem I’ve just started writing poetry. I’ve always babbled or spoken or written poetry, but I can’t pretend that there was just a day when I was suddenly and consistently writing poetry. I haven’t. I’ve just started writing every time I claim the space to write.

CNP: Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?

BB: This is embarrassing but I remember being really young and really attracted to Edgar Allen Poe. I actually thought that’s why they were called poems. My scope was limited I thought maybe he had invented the whole form. 

Thank you for this question by the way. It’s made me go back through my little mental calendar of literary loves. 

I think the first poem that really showed me what poetry can do must have been “During the Eichmann Trial” by Denise Levertov. I remember going in to The Haunted Bookshop, in Iowa City, and coming across these three little books, all by Levertov, all like $3. And in one of them I found this absolutely horrifying and miraculous poem. Eichmann, is of course, the man for whom the phrase “the banality of evil” was coined. His acts, his obedience to Nazi regime, his argument that he was just doing his job (which has continued to haunt us) are all retold in this poem, quoted in this poem. Levertov convicts him all over again and says—in one of the best pronoun uses in lyric history—“he, you, I, which shall I say? / He stands / isolate in a bulletproof / witness-stand of glass, // a cage in where we may view /ourselves, an apparition.”

It’s an old theme, but one that seems increasingly relevant to our culture and my own writing, that all poetry begins and ends in the body, and all bodies are political.

CNP: Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?

BB: sam sax, “The Politics of Elegy,” Franny Choi and all of Soft Science, Ish Klien’s “My Love Has Left Me I Have No Home” is a perennial favorite as is Frank O’Hara’s “Memorial Day 1950.”

CNP: Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone?

BB: My writing process is long and messy. I’m not the kind of person, as much as I wish I could be, who can churn out poem after poem after poem in a few months. I just don’t work that way. I write sporadically, in between things, when I give myself—no—when I claim the space to write. Going to graduate school has been good for me to clear an opening in my life in which to work on poems, but I still don’t write every day, and certainly less than I should. 

Most of poems start out as little tiny thoughts, or scraps of language, but I find that as I write they grow. And they grow best when I impose some kind of structure onto them whether that be an arbitrary syllabic structure or something more proscribed, like the sestina. I love a good sestina.

CNP: 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? 

BB: I’m a practitioner of both methods. I like to start with a form. Like I said, it could be anything, but I think that the real power in a poem comes from the moments when the form needs to break. Our minds will do some really incredible and unexpected things when put to a puzzle, but I think the most underrated tool of craft is knowing when to break the form. 

CNP: Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?

BB: My advice is, to not worry about it. Do you remember your voice started to change when you were a kid? Maybe when you started taking hormones? Our voices change as we grow up. It’s not any different with writing. 

CNP: What is your editing process like? 

BB: Yikes! My editing process is, like the writing process, slow but I do have some favorite methods! I like writing perpendicularly (metaphorically): if I find a word that seems not quiet right I try to think of synonym that’s more interesting or has a different connotation. I like rearranging stanzas, lines, syntax, what have you; even in the most rigorously structured poems nothing is nailed down. I also like waiting, reading, and watching movies as forms of editing. I like to file that boy away and wait for a time when he peaks my interest again.

CNP: When do you know that a poem is finished?

BB: I don’t. I really really don’t. I’ve recently been going back through my grad school application and changing things in there. I’ve been going back through poems I wrote in undergrad and finding some things that have some promise in there. And, of course, there are poems I haven’t looked at in years, but I know when I’m rewriting them and rewriting them. My poems are never done, at least until the day when I never edit them again. Maybe then they are. But only then.

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