Margaret Balistreri lives in Manhattan. Her recent chapbook is The Evasion-English Dictionary.






You Are

I am a Queen!
I am the rain!
I am the sun!
I am the moon!

And so forth.
You've heard it before:
The young poetess
And her unbridled claims
Statements of self,
Professions of potency.
She is all that she can see!
She silver-backs her windows,
Makes mirrors of the world.
The grandstanding girl version
Of boys talking shit on the street.

Only I don't know why
Young women would want to be
The things they claim they are:

You're a what? a Queen?
And who are your subjects?
Who buckles beneath your dais?
Tell me, show me, point him out:
Who among us
Peels your grapes?

You're the rain?
Whom do you drown?
Tell me
Who ducks and runs at your sight?
Whose streets do you slicken?
Whose rivers do you swell?
Whose bounty do you choke with surfeit?

Are you the sun?
Is that your claim?
Are you that star?
Could that gladden your heart?

Tell me
Whose skin do you sear?
Whose eyes do you blind
As they wind their way
Hoping for home?

All this, and the moon?
Are you that too?
Tell me, Moon,
Whom do you madden?
Which wretch have you driven insane, O Luna?
Whose storybooks do you haunt?

I have heard your I Am poems,
Heard what you are
And noted a lack

A curious omission of consequence.

I would hold you to your claim.

You are all?
Then own it.
But own it all.

Tell me what you are
That you wish you were not.