"...people expect me to put my hand up my own ass and turn myself inside out...or play Double Dutch with my colon...."

--Jim Carrey

For laughs, I sit on the whoopie cushion of my heart
and sip champagne through the straw my esophagus makes.
I toss my liver, a heavy frisbee, your way.
We play a game of jacks with my gall stones and spider veins.
I blow music through my stomach as though it were bagpipes.
I wear my bladder as a beret.
I hook my kidneys onto my thumbs, two wet maroon castanets.
My clitoris is a pink eraser. I slip my vagina out of myself--
it's nothing more than a kaleidoscope--
all the beads spin then fall into a flower-shape
the way June Taylor Dancers lie head to head,
their legs kicking open like petals.

Denise Duhamel


I forgive the boy at school who nicknamed me Cow.
I forgive the cop for giving me the ticket.
I forgive my rapist and my real estate agent.
I forgive myself for putting on weight.
I forgive my mother and my father.
I forgive my husband and the woman who cut in front of me in line.
I forgive everyone who hasn't loved me (what I deemed until today was) enough.
I forgive the bank for losing my check.
I forgive Blue Cross.
I forgive Blue Shield.
I forgive all the US presidents and congress.
I forgive the equivalent ruling bodies of other countries.
I forgive barking dogs and mosquitoes.
I forgive grammatical errors in newspapers.
I forgive rain storms and diseases.
I forgive all the prisoners.
I forgive the IRS.
I forgive the big car-owners.
I forgive the jellyfish who sting.
I forgive the drivers who take two parking spaces.
I forgive the bigots.
I forgive the big drinkers.
I forgive hairdressers who yank too hard.
I forgive broken down meters and meter attendants.
I forgive the infidelity.
I forgive the woman at customer service.
I forgive the plane for being late and crowded.
I forgive multinational corporations and all their sins.
I forgive the subway smells.
I forgive farmers and their pesticides.
I forgive the terrorists, almost.
I forgive wars.
I forgive the jealous, the ambitious, and the lazy alike.
I forgive the poor for being poor.
I forgive the rich for being rich.
I forgive the perverts.
I forgive bombs and people who make them.
I forgive the accomplice and the snitch.
I forgive the kiss-and-tell novelist.
I forgive the needy.
I forgive the aloof.
I forgive the teacher, the doctor, the priest.
I forgive the church, and I forgive God.
I forgive the nerd.
I forgive the dumb kid.
I forgive the bully.
I forgive the wimp.
I forgive those who feign forgiveness,
I forgive those who curl up instead of fighting back.

Denise Duhamel
DENISE DUHAMEL was born in 1961 and is the author of numerous books and chapbooks of poetry. Her most recent title is Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001). Her other titles currently in print are The Star-Spangled Banner, winner of the Crab Orchard Poetry Prize (1999); Kinky (1997); Girl Soldier (1996); How the Sky Fell (1996); and two co-authored volumes with Maureen Seaton: Oyl and Exquisite Politics.  A winner of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and the Poets & Writers' Writers Exchange Award, she has been anthologized widely, including three volumes of The Best American Poetry (1998, 1994, and 1993). She was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and educated at Emerson College (BFA) and Sarah Lawrence College (MFA). An assistant professor at Florida International University, she is the winner of a 2001 NEA in Poetry.