Reader/Writer

By DENISE DUHAMEL

Lady Gaga says she truly cares about all her Little Monsters
and if you don’t believe her that is just because you don’t know her.
They send her fan videos, tell her about the bullying
and the beatings
and she takes it all in. One night a bulimic approached me
at KGB Bar.
Her eyes wet, she said, Your work has meant so much to me.
As she told me she was battling an eating disorder,
I felt so far away, as though I should have started to cry too,
and I did cry, kind of, but it was a fake nervous cry
because I was “on,”
performing a persona, I suppose. I was aware of the line
of people behind her, people waiting to have books signed—
that was so new to me, so weird itself. I said, Thank you
for telling me, which I knew was completely inadequate as I said it.
She was that someone I had hoped for since I started to write,
that someone my poetry had actually helped, yet in that moment
I flubbed it. If she had written to me, I could have written
something back heartfelt, grateful that a poem of mine
actually reached a person who needed it, a poem like a FedEx box.
The woman was disappointed, I could tell, as she slunk away.
I signed books and chitchatted with people who had
clear boundaries—
how perhaps I knew so-and-so, or how I should really try
the soba noodles at Dojo’s. The woman stood near a stool
with her arms crossed. I thought I could feel her stare,
but every time I looked her way, she was looking at the floor.
When I finished signing, I walked towards her to talk to her—
she looked at me, shook her head no, then fled down the stairs.
This was years before Lady Gaga, but I felt like a Mother Monster.

 

Denise Duhamel is the author, most recently, of ScaldBlowout and Ka-Ching!. She is a professor at Florida International University in Miami.

 

[Purchase your copy of Issue 10 here.]

Reader/Writer

Related Posts

two white daisies next to each other

Translation: Poems from The Dickinson Archive

MARÍA NEGRONI
No—posthumous—inquiry will manage—never—to see what I wrote. What I lost each time—to / discover what a home is: stiff body inside the openness it has created. No one will know how / much I insisted, how much I demanded—and with no defenses.

image of white small bird on a stalk of grass. wing feathers are gray

New Poems from YOU ARE HERE, edited by Ada Limón

ADAM CLAY
On / the Golden Record that’s out of the solar system / now, scientists deemed the sound of birds / important enough to include as a marker / of our planet. Listening this morning to a clip / of what someone or something might hear one day, / I can’t help but wonder.

The parthenon in Nashville

March 2024 Poetry Feature: New Poems by Our Contributors

MATT DONOVAN
On my flight to Nashville, after / telling me the Parthenon in his town was far better / than the one in Greece, the guy seated beside me / in the exit row swore that Athena was an absolute / can’t-miss must-see. Her eyes will see into your soul, / he said, no goddamn joke.