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Katie Degentesh

Three poems

link I Loved My Father

link No One Cares Much What Happens to You

link I Sometimes Tease Animals

I Loved My Father

I loved my father and I loved Jesus.
What was I to do?
I felt like a canoe
that was being pulled apart by two strong men.

I expressed that eloquently by imitating his life,
by becoming more and more ineffectual daily.

People would generally hide from him
because he looked so American

I didn’t know that my father was controlling and manipulative.
I wanted to glorify Him by paying off the debt of sinful man

At least he could’ve explained why
he didn’t want me to play with the toy gun.

He really cared about us.
Maybe he had no feelings towards or against other people, either.

Rather than be exposed to one more sales pitch
They spit on me and I ran away

Nothing happened for almost a year then
He’d call the State Police just to try and settle me down

If you got your finger cut off on the
on the thought of killing him
He got angry and he wanted to get even.

I love plants and trees, but
I wasn’t allowed to go out or talk.

He was a wonderful man,
dealt with the servants of the castle
made a good living and provided well for his family
shared his affections with his boyfriend on weekends

I loved him from afar.
I sucked my thumb until I was six years old.
I didn’t realize it at the time.

When I was your age, he said,
“I had a square piece of white cloth to be made into
firstborn children of God, truly made perfect as God.”

He looked at me, and he knew I had stolen it.
A man will be hated by his own family.

I hated Listerine and I hated my father.
I do not know whether he is alive or not.

I took what I wanted, and left him spoiled behind me.
I was reborn in Ireland, in 1753.

No One Cares Much What Happens to You

when Serbs get mad, they talk
about a small town like Grace

Stop laughing; I’m serious
Grace is all I can afford on my nursing home wages

I pity her for the thankless job of building
A nation of Americans conceived in petri dishes

Whores are disposable.
They get strangled, beaten, tortured, raped...

on old motels, diners, train stations, or whatever,
and I think about Capri Sun bags when it happens.

As he unzips his pants I realize that I’m
what happens to us when the curtain goes down

no one cares much for the body parts
murderer creeping up behind her

Look, poetry, painting, writing. . .
People don’t get it like they should.

But it exists because it’s a link to what we can
accomplish through our Academic Plan

no matter how public it all seems
there’s a forced casualness to this conversation

I’ve been out here shooting long enough
I know even a public toilet will net you jail time

because when it comes to that word, “nigger,”
— I know that this is illegal —

it’s like the emergence of yet another guilty, white Southern male
as the fat lady continues to sing,

“when they were first created the thing
was to make them as white as possible”

as long as we are laughing
at Rush Limbaugh’s addiction

remember that Mt. Rushmore was itself
the creation of an ardent member of the Ku Klux Klan

I Sometimes Tease Animals

because my husband and I have given one another
the freedom to stay alive and growing, we

have never engaged in serious investigation
of the nature of Being in any of the more august

forms of child abuse or verbal harassment
(plus telepathy from the sitter or other living persons)

My son takes showers for the longest time and
he has the cutest bounce to his little step

the back of his legs look like the little lines on a road map
I’ll snip them off and make pillowcases out of them

I know what he’s doing, masturbating,
being such a tightwad just makes plain sense

in a world where everyone’s someone’s private dancer, boy-toy
and we will not worry where our water came from

The houses in this town are very neat
The seats are the products of the forest
And are covered with people of both sexes

Whenever we gently stroke a little pet, or give a surprise gift
the wicked boys do sometimes tease the old
by shouting “police, police” on these occasions

and shock the politeness of the inhabitants of the town
— Oh My PetPet! This is Pork, my Zebbra!

When I first start to get to know people
especially some sad seedy tosser

I tell them about my son having this lust
for someone else’s small perky breast

and that although I found nursing while walking to be easy
he now buys nothing but wargame manuals

She looked at me and asked if “Dickson” is my son’s name
And do we wrestle as a way of showing our fondness for each other

Then my son gave a pint of gin for a squaw
and lived with her as such until his death

Katie Degentesh lives in New York City. Her poems and writings have appeared in Shiny, Fence, the Poetry Project Newsletter and numerous other venues. These poems are from THE ANGER SCALE, a book-length series forthcoming from Combo Books in mid-2006. Each poem in the series is titled with a question from the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) and constructed with the help of Internet search engines.

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