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Two Poems by Arati Warrier

In Which My Mother Intervenes in My Sexual Education

Your body is divine / my body is impossible.

Your body is pure / my body is a doll I fondle for pleasure.

Your body must be hidden away upstairs / my body is my last vestige of power

Your body introduces shame / my body is ugly but tits

Your body is made of light / my body does not listen to me

Your body is too easy to see / my body is depository of the pain I need to see

Your body is hunted / my body is hunted.

Your body marked forever by sex / my body an experience

Your body is something to be careful with / my body keeps me alive

Your body blessed by covenant / my body more than sex

Your body is not yours / my body is carrier of my joy

Your body is good after marriage / my body is not yours

Your body is impossible / my body is mine

Drag Queen Application

Are you looking to be a drag queen or a drag king?

Girl with a mustache,

furry femme,

Freddie Mercury impersonator,

I’m picturing an audience I know -

an auditorium of beloveds

who know me

by my walk,

my animated gestures,

the quarrel of my hair -

beloveds who see me

and can still be surprised

by all I can be,

part time girl part time swirling orb.

Possible names?

I was named once. I can be renamed,

I can come when called. In the dance

recitals of my youth, I wouldn’t wear

glasses on stage. My little made up face,

dollar store red lipstick, hair wrangled

and gelled, bangles jangling on my wrists.

Too young for contacts, so every performance

was a test in remembering where my mother

was sitting, my blurry vision narrowing

as my eyes sought hers. Will you still be there

on the other side once I arrive?

What are your pet peeves?

Don’t get distracted by props, by frills,

by the way I can make my hips move.

I am asking you to stay enamored enough

to see right through to me, to trust

me when I say I don’t need a blanket

and offer me one anyway. I am not asking

you for too much. I hope you enjoy the show.

What gets you horny?

Have I punished myself before? Ripped hair

from my skin, shamed the good stink of my

pussy, undressed/redressed/regressed before

any event where someone else would see me?

Yes, yes of course. But on stage, I can reach

for the furthest ends of gender, bend around

corners, render myself new. I wish to own my pain,

my joy, my confusion. And I’ll cleave

down to the meat of me, so you can know it too.

What are you trying to accomplish?

I’ve spent lifetimes in one lonely night searching

for the warmest part of my bed. I still

spend whole days trudging through the cold

mud of this world. So yes, I do want a shining,

blistering moment of spectacle, of performing

myself and every translation of me. I do want

a packed house, a dance floor covered in dollar

bills, a legion of bodies, their cheers and applause filling

the air, one hand ready to catch me, on their toes,

clamoring to come touch me kiss me twirl me

around backstage after the show.


ARATI WARRIER (she/they) is a queer South Asian American poet from Austin, TX, currently living in the Bay Area. She featured on the final stage at Women of the World Poetry Slam 2014, is a recipient of the Andrew Julius Gutow Academy of American Poets prize, and is a 2014 national collegiate poetry slam champion. You can find their work in Junoesq Literary Magazine, The Aerogram, and BOAAT magazine. Arati's other interests include dancing, reading, and loving intentionally. She is a part time vegetable enthusiast, a full time youth and community worker, and co-author of the chapbook Longing and Other Heirlooms forthcoming from Eggtooth Editions.


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