by LINDSEY BOLDT
According to the archive of my lately much neglected blog, I began writing titty poems in July of 2008. I was newly single and fresh off my first post-breakup rejection, full of repressed rage and burning everything at both ends. I had been living in San Francisco for a year and a half, all the while busy proving that I was more than the latest piece of ass to arrive fresh off the boat into Poetry Land.
Everyone Loves a Straight Girl
sand in (send in) your oyster
I got pearls up in mine
Sitting around a kitchen table in The Mission District among poets, and frustrated that I wasn’t being taken more seriously by the male poets of “the community”, I asked the poet Suzanne Stein how my friend Alli Warren and I being the youngsters on the scene at 25 might avoid being seen as merely choice pieces of fresh meat. We wanted men to gangway in conversation, rather than remarking solely on our outfits or taking it upon themselves to explain critical theory to us. We wanted to talk about our writing projects, not be scanned from head to toe by someone so drunk he can hardly stand. This was less of a problem for Alli as she was already well established in the scene, having given many readings and published several chapbooks, but I wanted an accomplice and she didn't protest. After listening patiently, Suzanne looked me in the eye, and answered sternly, “You have to use whatever power you have.”
This made sense to me.
Alli and our friend Michael Nicoloff, also from my hometown Olympia, Wa, had recently come out with a collaborative chapbook, Bruised Dick. One night, in a different kitchen, in Oakland, while a party raged (or fumbled) in the next room, I began to drunkenly tell Alli and Michael, who does not drink, how I loved their chapbook but I was sick and tired of poems about dicks. Why were there so many poems with the word "dick” in it? What was so provocative about dicks? Why didn't anyone ever write about vaginas and tits? Which, God, there must have actually been tons of, but apparently I couldn’t think of any besides Victorian drivel about pale white bosoms. What I wanted was the poetic equivalent of Bikini Kill’s “Suck My Left One,” which I would blessedly find later in the prose work of Dodie Bellamy and Kathy Acker. Alli or Michael must have mentioned Dodie’s Cunt-Ups, which I had not yet read. I continued to protest loudly.
Which, if you’re quick to judge, might answer the question of, why wasn’t I being taken more seriously by “the poetry community”?, but please remember that this was a party and I was doing my very best to perform belligerance.
Alli, with whom I was sharing a flask of whiskey, laughed into her hand and shook her head, while Michael, soberly egged me on.
“Okay, Lindsey. Maybe you should write some 'titty poems'.”
“I could write a ton of poems about tits.”
“If you write a book of titty poems, I will publish them,” Michael suggested, folding his arms and leaning against the doorframe to survey my drunkenness from his typically sober pose.
“All right then, I will.”
Unlike so many plans hatched under the influence of Ancient Age (Bourbon), I remembered Michael’s challenge the next day and did begin writing a series of Titty Poems. Writing short, witty poems that I would later be told weren’t “complicated enough” felt a bit naughty amidst a community so set on disjunction and since I was too busy dodging sexual advances from awkward male poets and too awkward to make any advances myself to actually have any sex, I had to get my kicks somewhere.
I’m keeping the dick out of my mouth
just long enough to learn to say my own name
At home, in the sanctity of my room, I thought of breasts as beacons. From behind them, the chest emits a warm glow, probably a chakra thing, attracting some lecherous moths but also communicating with fellow beacons by way of semiphor: pulsing lights speaking silent code.
a device at a fixed location that, upon receiving a pulse,
transmits a reply pulse that enables the original sender
to determine his or her position relative to the fixed
It was from there, about an inch or so within my chest, where I began to build up a store of energy and power that the poems emerged. I would sit at my desk, stationed in a corner of my tiny cave of a room, usually late at night, and concentrate on that spot inside my body. I curled over my laptop in a C shape, wrecking my spine, and channeling all of that, what I realized once I finally got laid after six months, sublimated sexual energy into very short two and three line poems like a satellite dish. Like Bruce Lee's famed punch — I aimed one inch inside the reader’s chest — get in, get out, sit back and watch the destruction. Poetry works that way too. From one chest to another.
He’s What I Want in My Pants
I’ll tell you everything
if you just ask
but don’t go, Jason Waterfall
I’m doing weird social things that I don’t mean to
and so I creep
Inspired by the biological ownership of breasts and the children's book Bread & Jam for Francis, Titties for Lindsey was written in response to lived experience within a particular predominantly female body in the Bay Area under Capitalism. You purchase the book from Brandon Brown’s OMG! press here: (http://ohemgeepress.blogspot.com/)
"Tell Me So" - Bikini Kill (mp3)
"Hamster Baby" - Bikini Kill (mp3)