Anne Barngrover

To the Man Online Who Hates Hillary Clinton Because She Just Wanted It Too Bad

I could ask you for specifics, but what’s the point? My students aren’t allowed
to write it and this without a corresponding noun, but a teacher’s a bitch
unless she’s a busty character trope adorning your fantasy world in which
you star as the sole nice guy, sci-fi-loving gentleman around—
so misunderstood! You’re the only one who’s lonely and vowed
to find out who’s to blame. Have we learned nothing at all? A witch
hunt occurs when a woman’s desires are attained. I can’t forget the twitch
another man created in my eye. Twenty-three, I tottered on Storm Cloud
Nine, so in love I couldn’t deconstruct this pattern: he picked a fight
when I excelled. Back then, I didn’t have #yesallwomen or Lemonade, bell hooks
on my shelf or the steel in my heart. Once he snarled, I bet you hate that guy
at a Mel Gibson preview in his bandmates’ house. All I could do was recite,
He’s an anti-Semite. What had I done to set him off? Maybe the drummer looked
at me wrong. Maybe I threw a dart in front of everyone, and it hit the open eye.



To the Male Pundit Who Called Hillary Clinton’s DNC Acceptance Speech Unmemorable

Do you remember the first color that you could name? The first damp mushrooms
you lifted to your face—kidney beans, Lucky Charms—before your mother slapped
your hand away? The first time you woke up with your lips cracked
and bleeding? The first time you burned yourself on an iron? When your bracelet bloomed
in the lake since it was made of seeds? The first ice furred on branches? The first spoon
that had teeth? The first time you thought about nothing and relaxed your knees for a Pap
then they called that something was wrong? Do you remember when words collapsed
in the tunnel of your throat, when you stopped drawing and started writing, the art room
where you remained after school to watch a movie on Vermeer—you always stayed
for extra credit, you always worked so hard—where the two boys behind you tossed
popcorn and you told them, Stop? What did the redhead do, his glare blazing like a knife?
Lead-tin yellow, lapis lazuli, ultramarine—such haughty pigments for a maid!
One syllable and he was roaring, Sit down, shut up, you think you’re so smart. Are you lost,
or too far off? You’d remember how close you were to standing, all the days of your life.


Anne Barngrover is the author of Brazen Creature (2016 Editor’s Choice Selection, University of Akron Press), Yell Hound Blues (Shipwreckt Books, 2013) and co-author, with poet Avni Vyas, of the chapbook Candy in Our Brains (CutBank, 2014). Her poems have appeared in North American Review, Ecotone, Crazyhorse, Copper Nickel, and others. She earned her MFA from Florida State University and her PhD in English and Creative Writing from University of Missouri. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.