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“Self-Portrait as Getting Drunk Dialed by God”

Book Excerpt: I Am Not Trying to Hide My Hungers from the World

Self-Portrait as Getting Drunk Dialed by God

Oh to be shameless as a bachelorette party
singing “Friends in Low Places”

as they cruise 12 South
in a pedal tavern. Maybe it’s the jealousy

in me that gives birth to the aftertaste
of defiance, whose flavor is not unlike blood,

not unlike a Bible opened
randomly to procure a message,

but what if the message is something
about vegetables or the perils of menstruation

or the proper way to wash one’s hands?
Who am I kidding. I’ve never

read the Old Testament. I’m just a half Jew
who’s never been Bat Mitzvahed

standing at an intersection in Nashville
where a flurry of blondes stake claim

to this city’s malnourished heart,
where they chant Gucci Mane

and Brad Paisley lyrics and hitch
up their skirts like blessings,

a broken sort of dazzlement,
sun-soaked as the cleft of dunes

where I lost my virginity
(claimed my non-virginity?)

while my family picnicked nearby.
Dear God, if you are real,

I hope you have gold teeth
and watch Game of Thrones,

that you love the ice cream cone
gilded across Gucci’s face

whose teeth were once beautiful
and profane as typewriter keys,

luxurious premonitions,
gold as the drag queen’s eyelashes

who snorted a whole passage of cocaine
off my clavicle one night at the Grotta Bar,

gold as John Waters’ aura and the blinking
rims of his bicycle, the only stranger

I’ve ever wanted to blow
for my own pleasure, a kind of devotion,

gold as the feeling I get when I’m lied to
out of mercy, the way I believe

you must lie to us sometimes,
those late night calls

where all I can hear is your heavy breathing
and you mumble

“I love you” just once
before hanging up.

“Self-Portrait as Getting Drunk Dialed by God”

“Self-Portrait as Getting Drunk Dialed by God” from I Am Not Trying to Hide My Hungers from the World, © 2021 by Kendra DeColo, BOA Editions, Ltd. All rights reserved. Kendra DeColo is the author of two previous poetry collections, My Dinner with Ron Jeremy (2016) and Thieves in the Afterlife (2014). Her poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Tin House, Waxwing, Los Angeles Review, Bitch Magazine, VIDA, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a 2019 Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and has taught creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and Vanderbilt University. She lives in Nashville.

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