Carol Brown

Feeling Good


Soon after the leather jacket, I buy an ace bandage

at Rite Aid. It is such an innocuous thing,

stretchy beige cloth in a smiling red box,


so easy – put it next to toothpaste and I seem like

a blank slate, pass for unconcerned with my heart

rattling in my chest.


It is already a year later and I am finally beginning to let go

of the girl, to let all the childhood portraits just flutter away

in the wind, let them fall back into the ocean where they belong,


but every time I strip the flesh, all I find is bone

where I was promised woman and I don’t know how to

fill this void in my skin, so


at home, I try on man like a new dress

parade around in front of the mirror, twirling to see

how man flows, how he rises and falls in the wind.


I drop my voice, call myself Max (teenage fantasy of boy)

but my tongue keeps catching on the word ‘I.’

‘He’, ‘She,’ and ‘They’ are fine, but ‘I’


‘I’ catches in my throat like so many dead leaves,

rakes at my esophagus, a shard of glass

once something beautiful, now just so much shocked silence.


As a child, I often played inarticulately with make-up,

I never quite understood how the whole thing

worked, so I applied eye shadow, not to my eyelid, to


my cheeks, or my nose, or to my whole face,

turning my whole self blue, or green, or even purple

on wild days. I put on a mask then not because it was


true – what, after all does a five year old know

about truth – rather because it felt good to have a body malleable

as clay, soft gobs of flesh without the bone.


Because it felt good.




Until the Blindfold


take off your clothes, he commands

and you do, you peel your shirt over your head


it drops to the floor like a deflated

balloon billowing

warping as it flutters down


he taps the top button of your jeans

a gentle gesture but demanding


expectant and you obey, your fingers

dropping to the button tugging it free

to slide the fabric slowly from your hips


you stand before him

a grotesque thing


pure object, the image of yourself and

he makes a show of you

clothed, you are woman


there is shelter in that word

it is the roof over your head


but when you stand in front of him


and he names you


you are a homeless shivering thing

a wordless being, skin, red raw


covered in ash, goosebumps and cold sweat

without ‘woman’ to hide inside, you become

(almost) the girl, the impossible image


of yourself again and you watch her

move towards him


you watch her fold into his lap

you watch her and are not her

you move and stay frozen


watch and act

and you are ashamed


he sees it

i see it

we all see it


you are ashamed

your head ripped back by the hair


the girl filling you up

helpless, innocent, despicable thing

rising from the ashes in your gut until


you are tenuous surface tension threatening

to spill over, to make a grand mess of this


you are ashamed

until the blindfold, until the ballgag

then you are


then you act

then act, then act


when he is finally finished with you

and you collapse into him, soft,

and he holds you


you are the girl, wordless

a broken thing, yes, but an honest one


there are no words for it

just body

no foreign name inked on your skin


no woman, just body

his hands quiet on you, accepting


every breath

to rise and fall

in your chest


Carol Brown is a performance poet, student and general bookworm based in Brooklyn. She is currently studying poetry and psychology at Eugene Lang College. Carol has been featured at the 2014 and 2015 New York City Poetry Festivals, the LaMama Experimental Theater, the 2014 TedYouth Conference, the Jersey City Slam and on Indiefeed. Her work can be found in Germ Magazine, 11 and 1/2, 12th Street and great weather for MEDIA.

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