Cathexis 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
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 brynnbogert.com
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.