Eileen Myles


Caesarean Toothbrush


for Alice


I left it outside

for a yuk

for those that we know

who may never come


but riding by they’ll

know what I’m

doing. They will know

I’m okay.

It’s what we want

to know about

everything. We don’t

want to get sprayed

by it. More than

once it’s been

suggested to me

that if I looked

more closely

I’d see that it’s

normal. So I live

with weird but

familiar. To traffic

it looks okay.

My jokes are mostly

travelers jokes

I go to unusual lengths

to get what most

people get. In my defense

I like it hard.

My cat’s name is Marco

Polo. His severe profile

gazing into the

dead end

of the apartment.

Hey that’s not

going out.

That end goes

out. To him I just

become invisible

for a while

& to me that’s

just my life.

This is being his secretary.

Worrying about how

he’ll be when

he’ll be anything.

Worry about yourself,

Eileen. Stabbing

things. I just did

do it for a very

long time.

In that motion

in that soothing






Eileen Myles's collection of essays The Importance of Being Iceland, for which she received a Warhol/Creative Capital grant, is just out from Semiotext(e)/MIT.  Eileen also writes novels (Chelsea Girls, Cool for You) and libretti (“Hell”) and many many poems (Sorry, Tree, Not Me). She ran St. Mark’s Poetry Project in the 80s. In 1992 she conducted an openly female write-in campaign for President. She’s a Professor Emeritus of Writing & Literature at UC San Diego. She lives in New York.