Monica McClure


Inquiries feel like enemas
What is it called when your fist blooms
inside someone

The civilization I live in has lost its purpose

so I turn to amateur porn

Because I long to believe that people hide
deeper truths in their genitals

hairy reality slicked
down with spit-wet lace

Invisible panty lines and IUD’s
Instrumental promises of the soul’s efficacy
to carry you past the threshold

of shame

the entrance to the cervix opening once a month like the doors of Jubilee

We genuflect to use value
Another day bustling around
Ms. Dalloway’s foyer

And the river clearly runs through it
to a crevice in your body
I can’t follow

Look away, you profane
who would conceal from me
the stable reality within:
their gilded domes of meaning

I want cruelty turned
Blood out flesh in
Divine Glass sending rainbows shot with plagues
But not as god-like

The question of why people do evil
turns raspy
gawds gawds gawds of no
pale ankles

gawds of
You don’t have the guts for me
Why people commit evil is
the only question worth asking

gawds of I am standing at a pit where bodies
quit their living like thunder in a pile

I am a composition of absence so heavy
I call it Marlene Dietrich

That a man would not recognize
the limitlessness of my nudity is hard to accept

For the greatest sexual experience of my life
happened in a room full of
a dead fiance’s pictures

I admit, I had laid a trap for his trauma
with my sad sap
It was a plan. That is my favorite
word for my body & naked voice: my A plan.

In times of conflict, Plan B: Put as much in
your head as possible

I had wanted our grieving to be stickier, I thought
it would stay inside
with my Marxism
and your lazy America

I could lead a country one day
for all I know

It’s not up to me

All the women I’m not
line up to bring me diamond cuffs

You don’t have the guts for me

I could take a monogrammed gold
pair of scissors to my guts, but

You don’t have a pair of scissors
for my guts

I could be the women I am not But
I can’t forgive myself

for disappointing a civilization
designed to give me rights

as long as I fulfill simple responsibilities

My leisure time is overdrawn

I could straddle the two O’s in the HOLLYWOOD sign
and jump

Low verb highway
History’s continual drug-addled orgasm

I love acting beyond repair
and branding my damage:

a deer twists on the curb
and a rose grows necrotic with overdraft fees

Some ideologies are only party girls in decay
Don’t pick me up again
Oh sacrament boy returned from Afghanistan
to tell me my art is waste

When enough’s enough
I want to dignify it with my body
I fold my hands butterfly-style prayer-style
over my holes
holding the waste inside

Rights without responsibilities –
that’s the kind of humanism I hope humans
can achieve One day

you will look into my swampy green irises
heavily lined with blue
and give me health insurance

Why should the transnationals get the goods
when we are swimming sickly
in the black water with the cold eels squirming
in our veins

Below the yachts
where their perfume
turns over a new warm layer

Let your eels out, everyone
Let them swim electric through marble halls
as their golf courses burn

Maybe it’s shame that will deliver me
I found panties stained with his ex-girlfriend’s period blood
and put them on

I can sell you my secret
for unlimited access to your adderall prescription

Sometimes life is like
dating a rapper who is afraid of
hard drugs

I privately sneered at you
the whole time

Taboo will take you through the red curtain
Shame and poetry, I return to you —

What shouldn’t be
flayed for the king’s entertainment

What isn’t “false” — that can’t be stripped
I knew a Teuton from Chicago who thought a fallacious
person was grave

reserved for those who peep-show
in the game’s finest moment

Look earnestly inside me for there is
a temple of mirrors

where the devout marry
Join me in these moments of ecstasy

Here’s the thing
I am a collection of your eyes

Behind this Chloe dress I hide a deep, universal truth

A vintage scarf folded on the body, a coffin
is rife
with non-euclidean meaning

When you stop watching yourself
a spirit will arrest us all

Even sacred cows find their butchers
inside a triangle of surveillance

the lover watching the beloved being watched
by the rival
My Abraham Darby backstage
watching the makeup melt

That’s the kind of thing that siphons me out
Viscous on the walls

of Roman catacombs evaporating on contact
with human voices
of the past, disappointing
in their unthinkable meekness

The best words don’t function
as language or function
at all

Can the heroes in heaven see my cunt or tell it apart
from the cunts of others

I didn’t accept cookies from the homeless man
who approached me on the street

because I thought he meant heroin

No thanks to you for the street smarts
This hot swill in the chest is mine
and so is he

I don’t know how else to say this:
there’s nothing inside me
to fight over

If I’m too good for this club
then pull it out of me

I was in a pro-ana phase
when you took me to the Body Worlds exhibit
on the southside of Chicago

That’s where I wrote the memoir of my carcass
her persistent desire

Because I was euphoric from starving
I used the “I” to fuck the “I”out
until it trembled
and broke about my spine

Then I took some klonopin and threw up
and passed out
When I opened my eyes you were
putting on your shoes

and taking me to a White Sox game

So proudly slumming it
with your glossy cards
in your pockets

and your watch
pointed on me like a laser

not long after
you had called my family

Hello, I’m brown
on the inside

And if you look for my cash
you won’t find it

though, rest assured, it is on me

Working night-shifts is like
trying to home remedy
a relentless yeast infection

Never the right appetite
at the right time
The light always getting mopped up
before it can bathe you
in optimism

Power is so cute when it tries
to hide its impotence

Consumer culture and the apparatuses
of class always seesawing

across my screens

Do I want to look good?
Or do I want to look rich, and if not rich, taken care of?
Of course, erotics troubles this

An obscene picture of a stranger
or even a fictional character
is dangerous

to the decency
of all the people you love

Hello Monica

helloo Monica how are you today?

Hello Monica

Hello Monica, Milk of Milton —–

Dead moments in a high shine
Djuna and her grandmother:
Did they fuck?

The lack of irony in the middle ages
was not sexy, but sexual

But then again I don’t really know how peasants approached the bible
So when I read that radical mimesis is original sin

I think those serfs were better artists than any us

And we are orphaned birds who can’t grow up
until we see our magnified reflections

How to fill a father-space in the sky
with what enters us from our mother
through the heels

Carnivals nowadays are kitsch
yet uncompromisingly sordid

On our way back from spring break in Florida
we talked ultimate sexual fantasies

Because in the middle ages they wouldn’t
have confused imitation with heresy

Laura liked to pretend it was her first year of marriage
and she was in the intercourse stage
of getting pregnant

Spring break Carnival cruise
Yes, that’s when I started to feel really gay

I skipped cocktails and went out to kill myself
There was a storm at sea

I had a copy of Jeanette Winterson’s Lighthousekeeping
found in a Key West bookstore

You describe, evoke, then invoke, in a way, active thoughts.

You went to that bookstore too?
No wonder our sex is swampy

You changed me slightly.

My body feels open and oozing
with hormonal excess
in the summertime

How horny were you after she died?
You can tell me I really understand

I still crawl into his hospital bed
Someone I’d hardly touched when he was alive

The ones I had— Well
I guess it’d been enough

There was always an empty quarry between us
to cross
What has been emptied gets filled
until we forget to

When real people expose themselves
can you enjoy it without giving them money?

I accidentally smoked crank once and couldn’t
remember being born

I took this as proof that I didn’t exist
and spent four hours in my dorm room
having labor-like contractions.

I’ve always said men go to strip clubs
to spend money in front of
other men

I’m just glad I’m the first living girl to get you off
in four years

Anything illicit excites
Nothing sanctioned does: secret

Cordelia flirts with her father for the first half of King Lear
Thanks, Bakhtin, for ignoring Shakespeare altogether

I really would like to know what Bakhtin would say!
I know I’m high, but really, I am religious

If I have so many more nerve endings
in my clit
than you have in your hand
why does it feel so bad for me and
so neutral for you

I rebirthed myself once
when it became clear that I had just
smoked ice

The white turned rainbow
in the foil boat
The migrant workers had left their candles behind

I was thinking
This was once a slave shanty
and still is

Our Lady of Fleas
Bless this barn in Somalia where you slept
with the goats

I could have cut off your head once, but didn’t
Give thanks
the cotton disappeared
before la migra showed up

Women, don’t act like my gentlemen suitors
who fill me with disgust
and an all consuming desire to please

I feel chubby today
but smart
so it’s kind of okay

That night I knew we were making personal history

My back was sweaty in the moonlight

Death was close

On your birthday, the sex store on the highway will give you

free flavored lube

That’s what is meant by birthday sex:
a special stunt to mark
an eternally reoccurring moment

Are lesbians into lighthouses
Is it a thing

PTSD in my very own bed
I feel like a hard journalist

After I traded anal sex
for your cooperation at the party

It hurt you to cry in front of me
over the last few months’ trauma:

the dead man who seemed more human
because he was still wearing his sneakers

I believe in love
after that night

Because we got really ugly
to grieve for this world

Scraped off the shellac and
grew nettles

I left the scarf you brought from Tunisia
in a British pub on Macdougal

Ambulatory as I wish you freedom
from my clawing

How I hope my nudes serve you
when you’re scared

I asked you to tell me how she played volleyball

the way her ass looked on the beach
before she died

We were supposed to meet
so I could tell you how death changed me too

Are you fucked up
Do you see a shrink

I don’t, but me too me too

People from New Orleans are good lovers
They’re like literally covered in sticky magic

If you google me you can find my nude body
fructified, like literally

Life is not as valuable everywhere
Are you afraid of it?

I promise I’m not hiding anything inside my body
so I’m not very useful
as amateur pornography

It’s so obvious

There’s no such thing as capitalism
with a human face

MONICA MCCLURE’s debut collection, Tender Data, will be published by Birds, LLC this year. She is the author of the chapbooks, Mood Swing, from Snacks Press and Mala, forthcoming from Poor Claudia. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, Jubilat, The Los Angeles Review, The Lit Review, Lambda Literary Review’s Spotlight Series, The Awl, Spork and elsewhere. She curates Atlas, a collaboration series of visual artists and poets, and lives in New York City.


Scroll to Top