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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Excerpt: Selected Poems by JC Mehta

In recognition of the virtual Birdy Poetry Prize event, 6 p.m. on March 13, each of the previous winners and finalists will be reading and discussing one of their fellow Birdy poet's poems in these special videos. 

We look forward to seeing you at the event! Make sure to register at tinyurl.com/birdypoetryprize.


Lattes and Labiaplasty

How good are you at unpacking? Real
damn good and fast--I beat everyone
at emptying the suitcase after vacation.
No, I mean your feelings, your emotions. Oh, real
fucking good. I slam those things into drawers
and closets so quick you can't be certain,
not totally, that was a stain you saw
on the sleeve. All these new words
are so careful, the phrases so contrived. Nobody
wants to be all woman, and here I am
apologizing for not envying his cock
or whipping out credit cards
for labiaplasty. On the inside,
I picture a half-man goat sucking
a flute when I say I'm pansexual,
such a ridiculous word for lust
without limits. Who cares
whom I bed or what my testosterone 
levels are today? Unpack this, dismantle
that, something about patriarchy,
and pretend women have zero privileges.
How's this for privilege: I pass
as white and all the freedom
that carries, will never be falsely 
accused of rape, and when I wear high heels
I trade perceived weakness for doors held
open and comped lattes with foam
like waning orgasms. We set the price,
finger the terms, and choose by the day
the space we spoon from this world. 

Let Me Go Quietly

I don't want anyone saying they knew me
should I die ahead of others or when I'm gone
before the whispers. I don't want women
I can't stand, who despise me pound for pound,
muttering niceties over raw earth or prettying up
memories alongside casseroles. I don't want
men sniffing around, saying how lovely
I was when they use to comment on my bones,
the propensity of my skin to mar. I want you

to be the only one to say my name like it mattered.
The body of my pieces I wrote for you, the meat
of my words thickened from our story and the heat
from what we bore isn't for the gawkers
or forced, awkward acquaintances. Let them forget me,
feel satisfied that their bodies wore out at last,
store up those social graces like pinching shoes
they'll never wear. You're the witness
to my entirety, attestant of my every,
the only I want following
my loping footsteps into the deep.  

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