Parker Bagley

Sometimes the person you’re talking to will be topless, or about to be. There is no etiquette for this. You were taught to cover your eyes when male members of your household stepped out of the shower unannounced, when a sex scene happened on TV. So you’ve heard what topless sounds like but you can’t place these sounds, wonder how someone stripping on a baseball court becomes heavy-breathed and screechy. You’ve been practicing deep-rooted groans.

When clothed, you’ll imagine the outlines you can see underneath, especially when you’ve seen flesh before. You’ll look for cheat-sheets, problem pages, web forums, with ideas to get men down to underwear. You’ll carry bottled water. You’re reclaiming wet t-shirt contests for feminism, doing us favours.

He will think there’s a trade, if he can clock hours against you, eventually you’ll strip too. This is not how it works. He’s basically your bitch. Your name’s on the credits. He’ll be recast next season. Fuck him while you can.

I Can’t Kiss My Own Neck

First, you think we all think the same. Then you realise your thoughts are similar to those of your parents and friends and the people at school who hold sway for no real reason, maybe after school sessions mean something different for them. You did your maths’ homework at Mark’s house, got the last bus at six fifty six, watched Big Brother before bed.

Parents will say, “Carve your own way,” and, “Decisions are yours,” but someone else’s hands have a stake in your brain and, often, it feels like latex-ed fingers are inside cavities created by surgeons, somewhat delicately, but not enough.

The advice you give floors others because hope is for dreams and upbringings. You say, “Die, if you want to,” and, “It hurts,” and you leave doors open when you shouldn’t. You challenge the regressive nature of the women around you who want to recoil into their own wombs, live with the fetuses they grow but shouldn’t. You have a steady hold on guns, in a totally non-euphemistic way, and why should you change your life’s direction for dish washing, peeling carrots.

Whoever said women make stability, girls create homes, never met me.