Three Poems by Chloe Hanson

When things are bad I think shitdamn, finally something to write about.

My body has never belonged to me. It was my mother’s, captive under her rib cage. It belonged to my parents, bodies staking claims to my features. It belonged to porn and fantasy, took its only pleasure in a world from what I could imagine in the quiet of my basement bedroom, to the first boy who ran his fingers across my stomach -- then nothing more -- to men who pushed my legs behind my head to fuck in a way that can’t be called making love. I’ve been told nothing can be done, to curl my lips into a pleasure-mask that is -- occasionally -- a portrait of my face and not a sarcophagus.

Sometimes I wonder what strange men think of the way I look without makeup, my crooked front teeth, the fact that I don’t smoke, if they would accept that I don't know anything despite the absolutes given across clasped hands.

And sometimes, alright, most days on the bus I wonder who’s already been fucked and who’s tried it in the ass and who, if anyone, could love me.

Prayer to the Goddesses

Mother, I think of you every time

I order a beer so dark I can’t see myself

in the womb of the glass.

Beverly, great grandmother, when I catch eyes

with my own and hold them,

I wonder if I inherited your wildness.

I see you, women who made me woman

sitting side by side behind my eyes

on the front steps

like the photograph of all of us together,

and we are all young and smiling

because we could still imagine

what was coming without fear.

I see you reaching toward me:

open-mouthed statues of Athena

at the Forum Romana.

I didn’t understand her, either. Or

couldn’t hear. Mother, mother

of my mother, and her mother,

tell me what it means to be a woman

who, if still afraid of her body,

can at least picture the possibilities it holds

with the clarity you had when I was born

and you tried to wish my future into being.

(read: another excuse for not having sex)

Forgive me.

I have nearly circumcised myself

trying to shave the long hairs

in my labia for you. Meaning

we won't have sex tonight (again)

unless you'd like to rip my skin

open, birth blood

with each thrust.

No matter how long it's been

you always start the clock at 3 weeks.

Should I be offended

that you forget?

I don’t think of you

when I masturbate any more.

It is cheating if I don’t think of anyone?

If sex feels like hunger

when nothing tastes good?

When it’s over

I feel I took care of something

Important, but that doesn’t mean

I like the taste left in my mouth.

And it’s not you.

It’s not your body.

Some nights you get drunk and ask

if I’m asexual. How do I explain

I feel I sliced my pleasure away

with a razor when you say

take pleasure the way some say

take heart and mean it gets better or

wait. I surprise you every time

I reply it’s been too long already.

Chloe Hanson is a Ph.D. candidate in Knoxville, TN. Her work has appeared in Public Pool, The Heartland Review, Contemporary Verse 2, Pretty Owl, and various other journals online and in print.

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