I have begun to tell the students

my politics: always dangerous

in box-shouldered academe, walls

where whispers strike thin cracks,


widen, echo, suck. I speak

of women’s bodies, choice, language

that keeps men men but makes of women

girls, chicks, cunts, slits, pieces


of a twisted dream of domination.

The 18-year-olds in their warm socks stare

all pink and green, small alligators

dancing on their shirts. One mutters


“feminist,” daring just that much

against the red ink my pen wields.

They will write home to fathers and mothers

—or, more likely, call collect—and tell


of the teacher who wears her hair short,

who says strange things that have nothing to do

with them, their needs, their nights, their money,

the jobs they will hold in four years.





                                                                                            Katharyn Howd Machan