Olivia Gatwood – “Ode to the Women on Long Island” @WANPOETRY

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– I wanna write a poem for
the women on Long Island. (audience clapping) Who smoke cigarettes in their SUVs with the windows rolled up
before walking into yoga, who hack and curse and downward dog and Deborah from the next block over who has strong opinions
about Christmas lights after New Year’s who says that her body
isn’t what it used to be but neither is the economy or the bagels at Rickman’s Deli so who really cares who during Shavasana brings
up the rabbi’s daughter who got an abortion last spring and Candy in the corner who is mousy and kind, but makes a show of removing her diamond ring before class because it’s just too heavy calls Deborah hateful and the class takes a sharp
inhale through the nose. then out through the mouth. And after class after Candy rushes home
to check the lasagna. Deborah lights up a smoke and calls her best friend Tammy so then the girl calls me hateful…hateful can you believe it? What a word some kind of
dictionary bitch over here. So you know what I says? I says you don’t know the first thing about hateful wanna know it’s hateful, menopause. And it doesn’t really matter if Deborah actually said that to Candy which she didn’t because Tammy is so caught up that Candy called Deborah hateful which she did that next week, when Tammy runs into Candy while shopping in Rockville Center. Tammy will adjust the
purse strap on her shoulder and say we all have a little
coal in our stocking Candy and Candy will shuffle away certain that Tammy knows
something about her marriage that she shouldn’t and she doesn’t. She just loves Deborah
who has a lot of opinions, and had Candy given her the
chance to finish her sentence. Deborah would have talked about the reproductive rights
March she went to in the 60s and the counterproductive
sex shaming methods of organized religion. I want to write a poem for
the women on Long Island who ask if I have a boyfriend and before I can answer say don’t do it. Don’t ever do it. You know, my friend Linda, she’s a lesbian, like a real lesbian. And whenever I go over there she lives on Corona over by
by Merrick by the laundromat y’know what I’m talking about, anyway whenever I go over
there and see her and her wife for what’s her name? I can never remember
the girl’s name anyway. Whenever I go over I says you know what I need I says a girlfriend that’s what I need. The women on Long Island smoke weed once a month on the side of the house after their husbands Richard, Larry, Gary,
Mike and Tony go to bed. They let their teenage daughters throw parties in the basement while they watch the home network upstairs and keep a bat by the couch
in case anyone gets roofied even if it’s their own
son who did the drugging, the women on Long Island won’t put it past any man to be guilty even their kin who after all have their
husband’s hands and blood. And last week, when a girl was murdered while jogging in Queens, the women on Long Island
were unstartled and furious. They did not call to warn their daughters they called their sons took their car keys, their coats locked the door and sat
them at the kitchen table. If you ever and I mean ever so much as make a woman feel uncomfortable, I will take you to the deli and put your hand in the meat
slicer you think I won’t. You hear me I will make a gyro out of you with mayonnaise and tomatoes
and dill and onions. I want to write a poem for
the women on Long Island who when I showed them the knife I carry in my purse tell me it’s not big enough who are waitresses and realtors and massage therapists and social workers and housewives and nannies and tell me they wish they
would have been artists but life comes fast. One minute it’s taking typing classes for you new secretary job in The World Trade Center and the next it’s almost over, life, I mean, but I kicked and
screamed my way through it. And so will you? I can tell by the way you walk, one more thing, when they call you a bitch, Say thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you so much for having me, everyone. (crowd cheers and applauds)


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