HERE IS THE ANGER ANDREW ASKED FOR*
by Jillian Weise
when he gave me the latest issue of P-Queue.
“I want the poems where you’re angry,”
he said. I read the magazine and I can tell
I’m not his type. What a luxury it must be
to not need sense. It must be like you already
have your civil rights and at least one friend
to call when your leg dies, except wait . . .
your leg never dies, does it?
Your leg never loses a charge. Last week
a girl, fifteen, in Abercrombie & Fitch
was thrown out because she has cerebral
palsy and her sister went in the dressing
room to help her try on a pair of jeans and
that’s against store policy.
If I wanted to write the poem for P-Queue,
I’d write it like this—
a dressing room / a girl / a sister
a try on / a messed up / thrown out
() () () () () () () () () () () () () () () ()
with Fitch / in against / its clothes
Abercrombie body / of was to
–and while I agree the last line is not bad,
is that because it makes sense?
And do you think I’m naive for wanting
store policy change through poetry?
If not change, then just one electrical socket
attached by wire to one charger glowing
green attached by wire to one girl’s leg
(it doesn’t have to be my leg)
in at least one poem in the English language?
Look. The girl with her leg plugged in.
She’s in a poem now. She must exist.
The girl from the Abercrombie news clip
is not that store’s type. Maybe because
that girl never existed in a poem.
She hasn’t been poetry’s type. But I’m not
angry, Andrew. This isn’t anger.
This is a debate. I didn’t get angry until
I read just now in P-Queue this poem
by Divya Victor:
“When the thighs are taken away, one is stumped. One can only / totter away; a stumbledum, a tumbler brimming with demand. / Dimly, one is the witnesses to an / uroboric outpour of bored / bodies. Herein, the harkening of the sound of knock-kneed,
one-legged pirating of a floor plan drawn to the scale of the / bourgeois body.”
Andrew—What is this? Did you pick it?
Am I a stumbledum? Will you ask Divya
if she thinks I’m a stumbledum? Here is this
from Divya’s Artist Statement
on the site Just Buffalo: “To write poetry
[…] is to accept our responsibilities of
making possible positive change.” Is this
positive change, Andrew? Divya?
* This poem was accepted for publication by Andrew Rippeon while he was editor of P-Queue. He discussed the poem with Divya Victor who wanted to write a response. Months later, the poem was dropped for publication.
Jillian Weise is the author of the poetry collection The Amputee’s Guide to Sex (Soft Skull Press, 2007) and the novel The Colony (Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press, 2010). Her work was selected for the film series Poetry Everywhere, produced by PBS and the Poetry Foundation. Her essay, “Going Cyborg,” appeared in The New York Times. Recent work is forthcoming in the anthology Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. Occasionally, she makes movie poems. (Today’s poem originally appeared in the first issue of the brand new journal Catch Up and is reprinted by permission of the poet.)
Editor’s Note: Recently I’ve been thinking about poetry that is doing something larger than itself. Poetry that matters beyond its beautiful language, music, and imagery. Today’s entry in this series is just such a poem. With “Here Is the Anger Andrew Asked For,” and the background and dialogue that have become a part of the poem itself, Weise is speaking up and out for what she as an artist and a human believes in. Her politics about disability, and her disagreement with some other poets about the use of degrading imagery around disability, become a part of the life of the poem itself. By pushing onward and getting the word out there about her battle, Weise is using poetry to reach off the page, beyond the world of art, and into a larger, more meaningful dialogue.