Poems and Texts

California Encomia by Cat Fitzpatrick

Cat Fitzpatrick, Sophia Shalmiyev, Michelle Tea
Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Road, The Hills

Finding the road is always hard. We’re wrong
Then wrong again. I blame the GPS.
We are a car of trannies revving down
The interstate, with bags and bags and bags,
Boxes of books, and half a quart of rum.
We wear our newest, shortest, thrift store dresses,
And play a tune about how hard it is
To be a psycho bitch. We’re running late
And driving very fast. Just let the state
Police turn on their sirens, they’ll get theirs.
California! You’re in a drought.
The olives are all dead the hills are dry.
California! You’re mad with thirst
And so are we but maybe it will rain.

Polar Bear

I meant it as a joke. Who plays car games
They read about online? But when the wind
Brings down the longed-for rain at last, I say
“Let’s roll the windows down and get undressed.”
And Pythia does. We pause, we glance and then
I do the same, Minerva’s driving but
She wriggles off her dress, and Sissy too.
We stare. Like, some of us have had a bunch
Of work (like me) and some just started ’mones,
But there’s no judgment, we’re just curious.
It’s safe. For once! It’s like we cast a spell.
Tall girls! Expose yourselves in cars! Pull up
To pee without a stitch to wear! Share
Your nudity and see how long you last.

Truck Stop

Maybe we should be naked. Even so
They seem surprised. I learned to disappear
But lessons get forgotten too and yes
They notice us in packs but let them look,
Sometimes you need to take that risk. Every
Truck stop should have a few of us, stealing
Wasabi peas and telling noisy jokes,
Demanding very complex sandwiches.
We’re what I warned myself about, we have
A purpose and a name, we’re hungry since
We stayed up getting much too drunk and had
Important conversations where we cried
And yes we’re feeling somewhat drained but truck
Stop people we are here to meet your eyes.

The Goddess

I want to praise, but I’ve been taught critique.
And yes, Minerva can be difficult.
Last night we fought, some stupid argument.
We’d both been drinking, and we know what hurts.
Soft-spoken, scrupulous and measured girl,
All straight blonde hair and pale skin and mouth
That purses when it rests, turned out to be,
Oh right, a warrior. I mean, of course,
We all have had to be. But this was fierce.
This morning, among lemon trees, the sun
Still climbing up the sky, she came
And offered me a way to climb back down.
So praise: this woman’s stubborn, sharp of tongue
And eye, she’s very kind, she likes a drink

The Oracle

People think praise is a dishonest mode
But I’m so done with irony. Pythia’’s
Tattoo says “pretty worthless vermin” and
Her tits are missiles. She told me she
Can move things with her mind. I half believe
She can. It’s like, she always sees your point,
But also past it with such clarity
To what is overlooked, the trash she draws,
The girls like us, the future. All her clothes
Are bright and cheap and way too small, she has
No shame, she finds the use in stuff, which here
Is “Look it shows my boobs so good”.
She’s making cuddly toys do dances on
The dash, and telling us about their lives.

Driving in

Things have to end, there is a traffic jam
There are palm trees there is a city here
Of things we have to go and do. It’s not
The car. I’d leave the car. But when we pull
Into the parking lot of don’t know what
This building is to finish off the rum
And smoke a joint and see if Pythia can
Pick Sissy up and spin her round above
Her head (you know she can) we know that we’re
Unknitting, and we do it with regret.
I’ve never felt like this, so strong, so good,
So clear. I look from face to face, and smile
I never want to turn away again,
Although of course I have somewhere to turn.

Photo credit: Julieta Salgado

Cat Fitzpatrick

Cat Fitzpatrick teaches at Rutgers University–Newark. She wrote the book of poems Glamourpuss and co-edited the Stonewall-Award-winning anthology Meanwhile Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers. She is currently working on a verse novel in Onegin stanzas about trans women making terrible choices. This is a topic she knows a fair bit about.

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