Pretty Young Thing by Michael Jackson, a Translation
I watch Maxine’s pink pigs dot the horizon.
I watch her teacup, bald and gray.
Behind the starfish fodder of her hair she starts to say
I love you like I love my mantelpiece. Something you
rest an elbow on, that cool slab that curbs the heat. Maxine,
I say, what was that dream again, the one where you end
up dead? Poor Maxine loves the end
of bananas, she digs her tongue into that yellow horizon,
that yellow curd of string. And she begs Maggie,
my maraschino yolk, my lover collared gray,
do you want me to tuck my tongue inside you
this way? Do you? And as her lost little cherry I say
I’m so frazzled darling I don’t know what to say
and in her usual huff Maxine puts an end
to the foreplay. Oh we’ve been to this bayou
before. Let the marsh muck our horizon,
Maxine half-lit, eyes on a dinghy half-gray.
Yet never to set sail on the S.S. Maggie.
There is a mathematics behind Maxine.
Like a cursive equation, she swoops across the page. I say
Let x unhook her overalls. Let y douse her in Earl Grey.
And I try to forget that after thirteen years this is the end
of her brushing back my bangs, the end of her eyes on
the worn out trail of my face. I want you
all verbiage, all passé. Now, Maxine peels bark from the yew
tree, uses it to feed that god awful mantelpiece. Oh Maxine
admit that those grody cantaloupe lips are but a cyst on the horizon
compared to the rip of rouge they used to be. You say
old is natural, honey to the honey bee. That there is no end
to love’s elasticity. Then kiss the gray
fuzz on your lover’s chin, celebrate the gray
wash of my tongue on your clit, shame on you
if you won’t upgrade to a wrinkle from a zit. End
your rhapsodizing, your constant theses You are old Maggie
So is the divinity. So is Aphrodite. Say
what you please. I ebb out like a horizon
laced in pumice gray sheaves. Yes I’m porous Maxine
and I know what you want to say to me,
Just to rush against you
I would forget the first time I fucked
god in the shower I was thirteen
when mom hung jesus
in the bathroom she said
its easier to love what we can
touch his face was a blue affair
it had the harmony of shade
a night energy below his tongue ma
ma the aftermath of his eyes was a virtue
and one sunday unshackled
of everything I summoned him in the water
color hush and Dial haze
every tile reflecting my unmasking
of jesus as the only reachable toll
sometimes we do things for nothing
the spigot brushed my collarbone
in a shiver of steam
this is how I want to sing
against you a god
ripped from the plaster
just to touch you as you gasp
am I prayer or prey
Alexa Doran is a poet in the UNCW MFA Poetry program. She has recently been featured or is forthcoming in Ekphrasis, Petrichor Review, So to Speak, Thin Air, Educe, Cactus Heart, and CALYX literary magazines. Her poems were finalists in the 2014 Third Coast Poetry Contest, the 2014 Puerto Del Sol Contest, and the 2014 Fairy Tale Review Contest. These poems were selected by Maisha Z. Johnson.
I would like to see more authors using literature as a means to illustrate the negative impact of living in a gender-centric society. Until we address the destructive emphasis society places on gender, using that most powerful medium of words and page, we will not be able to articulate this issue well enough to defend against it.