Poems and Texts

“WOMEN IN PUBLIC” by Elaine Kahn


Once upon a time
Saint Bernadette was born
first child of her mom.
A homely woman
of absurd virtue
she had the martyr’s squint
of a Bernadette

A purple saint
an asthmatic saint
of course, she suffered much

What does the world hate more
than women
in public




When I am in my robe
then I am like a mom

And I do well in bed
and do not wait

When I look in the mirror
and my face is everywhere




All you cult born infants
think the earth is your clarinet
and like to crawl across its body

Do you think that you are greater than a mom?




When it is so hot
I lie on the floor

When I think
of what I have
to give

Life has it’s good points

And the fat, white thigh-bones
of a tourist




Dear mom
beautiful mom

Smile, as you always have
and ask me what I need

I’m your prisoner


Elaine Kahn

Elaine Kahn is the author of Romance or The End (Soft Skull, 2020) and Women in Public (City Lights Publishers, 2015). Her writing has appeared in Frieze, The Brooklyn Rail, jubilat, Poetry Foundation, Art Papers, and elsewhere. She received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches at the Poetry Field School. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

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