Kathleen Heil

Dear Jesus

It's nothing personal, but
the cardinal perched on the sign
outside my apartment complex
makes me almost not sad
about the April Fools' wedding

I didn't attend. Understand,
my favorite part of Mass
when I was still young
enough to be forced to attend
was when you'd turn around

and shake my hand. And also
with you I went two or three
times to the Polish church
in Greenpoint during the half-
second I lived on N. 9th and Wythe

because the gold communion-
catchers and the crowd of young
people reciting a language I didn't
speak was the trip I wanted but couldn't
take because I worked six days a week.

Understand, when my mother
says to trust in you I mostly
feel resentful, then resentful
of that resentment. I've spent a half-
life trying to get around to trusting

the glut of revelations that come
from the scintilla animating us—
and wouldn't you know, philosophers
still haven't solved the puzzle
of all-too-human consciousness.

In the catechism toy box hide
Catholic Guilt cuddly bear, Lapsed
Catholic dolly, Bastardized Catholic
action figure and Recovering Catholic
playing cards, which nobody purchased

at my garage sale. Understand,
they were only a quarter each,
but people have too much stuff
as it is. And maybe they didn't know
the secrets you confess to me

at every service I miss. Dear Jesus,
don't worry, I won't tell anyone,
I know how hard it is to believe.
If it helps, you can have that
heavylight box for free.



Big Easy Anthropology

if you are a woman of a certain means
you can learn how to be nonthreatening
by visiting anthropologie.com or
the frou frou store in Canal Place

I do not pay full price for my ruffles
I do not get paid to look this good
because I am not worth it not
like the girl on the website

who went to my middle school
her mother was my gym teacher
in grammar school she would have us
do an exercise called washing machine

she would yell at me because
I would do it wrong or stop
now women now stop
doing that with your hands

it isn't that it's this
the boys did it too
hands on hips now twist but
what are the athletic benefits

maybe in the obliques they are less
threatening than the rectus abdominis
now go to a barre class and become
more threatening by getting smaller

there is Rebecca leaning on a fleur-de-lis gate Uptown
because we New Orleans ladies do this in our spare time
though she and I both grew up in the same ugly suburb
where the ducks in the canals have red cancerous necks

and look older than Old [sic] Metairie the oldest suburb
in the city unless you count Uptown which you should
because that's where the Americans lived which is what
the Creoles in the Quarter called the Colonial arrivistes

who built Corinthian columns with their cottoned money
flourishes meant to legitimize their Kardashian newness
but now the sliver by the river is where old white money
live it didn't flood because the old new money knew to

settle on naturally high ground that Katrina could not drown
and now New Yorkers buy houses on the other side of town
above St. Claude they call it Bywater even though it's not
the city a marketing tool for cool for interesting for Rebirth

I saw a brass band code for I see black people code for
the city whiter and more segregated now code for safer
code among certain whites for less black said sotto voce
it is better or worse than white girls like my friend and

I created the Kool Kats Klub in 1988 not thinking
of the konnotation to spell it like that the year the grand wizard
David Duke tried to run for president and again in '92
he didn't win when Anthro Rebecca and I were ten

she looked the same then as she does at 32
she is painting birds on my poem like tendrils and
we call ourselves artists and say we like nature and
we sure could use some clothes from Anthropologie

spare me $300 to feel pretty I own three dresses
from the store but one I don't wear much
I worry it's too 'Kim K'/too tight in the butt
and one is too dressy but the other I love

so please just study your sociologie
and remember if you are a woman
you may want to end with :) or !
if you are a man please don't :)

thanks so much I appreciate it!



Kathleen Heil's poems appear in The New Yorker, The Cincinnati Review, Blackbird, jubilat, Colorado Review, Barrow Street, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. A recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, among others, she grew up in New Orleans and lives in Berlin. More at kathleenheil.net