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The Joy of Cooking

          She’s gifted a hundred copies, maybe
more. I tell her no one needs
          that book. There’s the internet now.

          But she knows women don’t do
things correctly anymore. Women
          that have long hair after forty, who think

          it’s fine to throw a bridal shower
for their own daughter, don’t send
          thank you notes or freeze violets

          into an ice mold to float in a punch bowl. 
Who date black boys and eat in front
          of the television. Who drink too much, host

          sex toy parties and lick flavored
nipple creams from their wrists. Who wear
          sticky red lipstick. What do they expect

          if they don’t lose the baby weight
or have dinner waiting for their husbands?
          What did I expect kissing men

          in Italian nightclubs on study abroad?
She’d already told me a red-blooded man
          would only do what I let him. 


Heirs Apparent

The dining table’s leaves were eased
           into their grooves, extra chairs arranged

for the visiting lawyers, accountants.
           Men who point at me, say now, she really

           gets it, doesn’t she? I wake early
                      to straighten my hair, string pearls

around my neck already framed in a blue
           shift dress. I do not recognize myself.

           I nod as they explain growth, dividends,
                      but think only of twenty dollar bills I slipped

from unguarded wallets to spend on tabs of ecstasy,
           tanks of gas. I can’t help but be impressed

with what they’ve kept from us: the furtive assets,
           the unsigned trusts. How each woman

on my mothers side managed to kill herself, or tried.


YouTube Videos of Koko the Gorilla                                           

I am embarrassed by her nipples. Their heft,
begging to be suckled. She signs
the word baby over and over, despite
the kittens she’s been given to quench
her thirst to nuture. Her name means
fireworks child. She knows one thousand
signs. I was infection child. Wailing child.
Tubes were thrust into my ears to drain
what festered, leaving me jumpy, nervous
of noise. I imagine the blooms of color
each July, the floor of the car where I hid,
sobbing, so frightened by those booming shotgun
blasts. My family watched the bright legs
spidering the sky. I’ve been told that
sensitivity to noise is a sign of intelligence.
I would like this to be true, feeling nothing
but stupid, flinching at a balloon, waiting
for it to burst, fuming at the way a lover
chews, asking him please stop.  How am I
allowed to behave this way? What does
a hulking brute with a few words deserve?


Bipolar II

As in second, as in also. Another woman

in line at the pharmacy, browsing

the supplements, protein bars, condoms,

and lube while the beautiful young

technicians, their hair slicked into neat buns,

herd nests of pills into bottles awaiting

their child-proof caps. As in patterns:

one long grey sleep, a few manic days. Repeat.

My past ten years explained. How my credit cards

sliced and sliced. Then closet, refrigerator

filled. Hypomania: as in less than, as in small.

As in without delusion, but hunched with shame.

The clerk motions me to the counter, a list of drugs

that thrum my veins on her blinking screen

as she calls to another white-coated girl sorting

plastic bags by last name: Is that her there?

Do you have her right there in your hand?  


Anna Claire Hodge is a PhD student at Florida State University and a recipient of a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.  Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal, Copper Nickel, and others.  Her poems have been anthologized in Best New Poets 2013Myrrh, Mothwing, Smoke: Erotic Poems (Tupelo, 2013), and It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop (forthcoming, Minor Arcana Press).