Marliee Goad

p o e t r y

Rewriting the Self


Burn ten pages to watch them unfurl red leaves gone

black at the edges — follow the blue, its center holy

light enshrouding chemical transformation, break

bonds and reform yourself into the ashes you tape

back together, sentences crossed out and rewritten:


first draft the precursor to a chapter so different you

can’t quite recognize the pen that wrote it, nib sharp

and quickened to an ink swirling cursive mysteries

made real: the terrarium sprouting life from the

water trapped beneath its glass canopy, recycled


rain the answer to grief unstuck between two deaths

you cannot mourn: yours and not yours. In the second

writing, relight the fire, plunge more fuel into its core.

Undress the clothes that mask the body, naked form,

flame to flesh, heat kissing the space between. Accept

the discomfort and shatter the page. Let it all burn.




Precious porcelain


You said, it won’t hurt, but it has only ever hurt,

the way you look at me with eyes hungry and wide,

deep dark brown orbs devouring the platter of moist

tender meat heaped on precious china, the clink of

your knife against porcelain like the sound of my

heart dropping, thudding beyond the ever-present

realization that no matter what grace I might employ

you shall always seek the pure womanhood of my

form and divorce her from my humanity,

compare and price me next to past lovers as if

we are cattle, hides sweaty and flea-ridden from

the stench of your breath and that of your

predecessors — sometimes, in an attempt to love

and be loved, we forget that we are each worthy

of the reverence and respect that you save only

for your fellow men, warm welcomes drowned out

beneath the menstrual blood you find repulsive

but which carries you and your progeny ever

onwards, despite logic’s appeal that we forego

your affection for the sake of self-love and respect,

to reclaim the simple fact of our humanity,

imperfect and beautiful.




What We Women Have to Endure


The doctor squeezes my hand as she inserts her probe and mourns what she says

“we women have to endure,” and I shake and sob and think fuck that, I am tired

of what “we as women” have to endure, I am tired of the poking and prodding,

the refusal to grant us space, liberty to consume life with all the vigor and vice we

can muster, the acquiescence to men and manners that demand we accept their

privilege, their freedoms at the expense of ours, the tussle in the hay that costs

them nothing but the faint possibility of a treatable infection, our risks higher

in almost every way, the shame and stigma blotting out desire with its scarlet

letter, unfurling devotion in a crimson cloth that cloisters and confines until we

cannot even name that which we most want, until everything we touch is marked

and marginalized, castigated with the hated brand of femininity screaming its

pink and purple banshee howl, singing damned if you do, damned if you don’t.




When St. Joan Visits


At home, they whisper benedictions for my womb:

not me, just my organ, rosary beads clinking into

action for the sake of progeny unspooling from yarns

of faith and tradition, woman you were made for


nothing more than my vessel, I gasp and disavow

my former devotions, reject assertions spiraling

into commands that reduce ambition to the moment

I could die, for the sake of new life, blessed red


streams baptizing tiny heads in the ritual of our

sacrifice, my heart heaving in its misery, craving

more than this endless duty, knees ground into

granite floors for the sake of religion and


consequence: when Joan appears in my dreams,

I beg her for her armor, but she demurs, enfolds

me in white robes that swathe my hopes in

swallowed centuries of my chromosomes: what


if I’m not even a woman? She touches my lips

with her fingers, shushes curses and grins, says

nothing, only holds me in her stare, motions

with scissors to my hair — to cut long locks free


of tropes that bind me, as if a disguise could

subsume the roles that shackle me to my state:

how many prayers is gender worth? Joan shakes

her head; it’s the wrong question, still tied to an


imagination in captivity: breathe harder, feel

millennia bloom inside you, ancient rocks devoid

of identity, dust cruising space in its solidity:

still yourself. Joan disappears and I stay here,


wondering how birds learn to fly when their mothers

flee them, nests upturned in abandoned caves: how do

I go on with no map or saints to guide me, only wispy

dreams by which to see, so far off from my reality?

Marilee Goad attended the University of Chicago and has work published or forthcoming in Ghost City Review, rose quartz journal, Persephone's Daughters, OUT/CAST, and Georgetown University School of Medicine's Scope arts magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @_gracilis and find her website at

© 2018 by Azia Archer

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