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About this Poem 

"I wrote this poem after hearing Margaret Cho in an interview off-handedly make a joke about her many tattoos—she said that she couldn’t really carry a corsage because she’d clash with it. I laughed, but she also made me think about woman-as-flower, and that led me to the rest."
—Denise Duhamel

Permanence

Denise Duhamel, 1961

The barista at the coffee shop is covered in tattoos. She says there are only two ways they hold her back. 1. She can’t work at Starbucks. 2. She can’t wear a corsage, since she’d just be way too busy, and this makes me laugh. She says no to gifts from prom dates—the wrist corsage, the pinned corsage; no to bridal bouquets, the get-well-soon carnations. One day soon her mother will insist on sympathy wreaths around her coffin, which is closed, lest she be confused with the flowers.

Copyright © 2013 by Denise Duhamel. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on June 24, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Denise Duhamel. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on June 24, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Denise Duhamel

Denise Duhamel

Born in 1961, Denise Duhamel is the author of numerous books and chapbooks of poetry

by this poet

poem
—to Sean Penn

I'm writing this on a plane, Sean Penn,
with my black Pilot Razor ballpoint pen.
Ever since 9/11, I'm a nervous flyer. I leave my Pentium
Processor in Florida so TSA can't x-ray my stanzas, penetrate
my persona. Maybe this should be in iambic pentameter,
rather than this mock sestina, each
poem
The perfect voter has a smile but no eyes,
maybe not even a nose or hair on his or her toes,
maybe not even a single sperm cell, ovum, little paramecium.
Politics is a slug copulating in a Poughkeepsie garden.
Politics is a grain of rice stuck in the mouth
of a king. I voted for a clump of cells,
anything to
poem
I had sex with a famous poet last night 
and when I rolled over and found myself beside him I shuddered 
because I was married to someone else, 
because I wasn't supposed to have been drinking,
because I was in fancy hotel room
I didn't recognize. I would have told you 
right off this was a dream, but recently