bell curve

bell curve
by kaia sand
that shape we strike for sound
how we draw it, a line around ‘abilities’
how the legless man saw the legged
how the legged saw him
how I map natural disasters, friends nearby
how states-in-reds-and-blues is a shorthand
who we have sex with who we match our glasses to
who we buy with our billfolds
how fifty percent of bankruptcy is from medical bills
how the lotto winner swore she’d never change
how we spin sickness on the roulette wheel of capital, catapulting, catapulting, catapulting
how she was called ‘feebleminded’ because she was pregnant in 1924
how he was called criminal for his long face and bad eyesight
who we grieve for
whose touch is infectious
whose home has what walls
whose park is a home is a bed
whose ashes fill rusted cans
who is not my enemy
whose global funeral finds its fans
who I grieve for
who chased my car with his car
who I escaped from
who I chase with my daily purchase
who was tossing rice at a bride
whose body is not claimed
who is a boy who wishes to be glamorous and womanish
who is a girl who is a girl who is a girl
who is a girl
who smiles to signify static and such future
who names her truck ‘snowball’ and furies the logging roads
whose teeth cut on smoke
whose teeth were pulled by country doctors
who then moved to the city
who then moved his human body to the city
whose human face did not smile
whose gray smile was not bought
whose gray signature claims personhood
whose gray is her black and white
who was black when she crossed state lines
who was white in her long shadow
who lives nearby who is not a neighbor
that person does not talk to that person
whose taxday is evasive
whose IRS envelope is annual and heavy
whose address is racial
whose wall marks the white demographic
whose body is perfumed and bedecked
whose body is sequined for the complicit mirror
whose body is not claimed
who learned chess from his father
who stands guard by the wrought iron the barbed wire the chain link
who demands a callback
who is not a mother but a telemarketer
who is not a telemarketer when another job is offered
who is a mother and a telemarketer and a cousin and a lover of tulips and tobacco
who we grieve for
who is a sister is a brother is a brother to a brother to a sister a sister to a sister a brother
whose human body we recognize in its carbon in its sequins
that we recognize faces as beloved or we look down and keep walking
that we keep walking
who we grieve for
who we have sex with
who is a suitor who suits us
who we love who we recognize
that shape we strike for sound
whose bodies we claim

0 thoughts on “bell curve

  1. My first thoughts upon reading: This is a brilliant poetic exercise about identities, and how identities are assessed in America. Second thoughts: The repetitive use of pronouns (e.g., who and whose) makes “Bell Curve” more difficult to read aesthetically. (Not sure how this would be received at a poetry reading.)
    However, the poet guides us through her instant portraits successfully despite (or maybe because of) the extensive and intensive use of pronouns. This poem will separate readers into aesthetic camps, but I’m beginning to question the teaching of poetry, or how to write it. These how-to sites that teach us structure may be doing us more harm than good. Finding new patterns, and even tearing up old ones, can be good.
    Oh, yeah – I like this poem, and I’d like to read more from Kaia Sand.

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