The Broken Column of the Truly Phallic
"Why don't men refer to things as phallic that are floppy and disappointing?"
- Journeys to the Underworld, Fiona Pitt-Kethley, founder of International Penis Day.
The collapsed soggy newspaper.
The drooping corners of a disappointed mouth.
Slush that was a snowman yesterday.
The cake that failed to rise.
A plant gone brown and wilted.
Half-drunk coffee gone cold.
The interview that went badly;
the performance fallen flat.
The date who’s only half there, mind glazed
and wandering, eyes vaguely on other possibilities.
The grade lower than you’d hoped.
The cream that has just turned.
A match that won’t strike.
A dieter’s meal. A smoker’s gum.
The much-loved monument become rubble.
The conversation that needed to happen,
but didn’t. The follow-up single.
The big game rained off. The goalless draw.
The joke that made no one laugh.
The poem rejected. The delayed flight.
The broken-down train. The stale doughnut.
The knowledge that you haven’t given satisfaction,
though you’ve been told that it doesn’t matter.
The tears and mulling over –
and the hope that springs eternal, or at least,
comes up the following night
*"The Broken Column of the Truly Phallic" was selected by Limp Wrist founder/editor Dustin Brookshire as a finalist for Limp Wrist's 2021 Glitter Bomb Award.
You get the whole world in here, and all of them
wanting change or escape. All I can offer is
a stamped ticket and the smile that's part of my job.
Every day is a parade of the legion of hungry men
whose eyes eat my hair, breasts and mouth.
Possible or not? - they wonder, depending on age
or confidence. Their eyes queue at the scarf resting
on my chest, as if they care about floral polyester.
I'm exposed and trapped. I feel a blend of annoyance,
pity and boredom. If I felt lust, I'd offer my number.
I'm not a parking space for your desire. I can't get
away. The scarf, incidentally, is part of the uniform
and compulsory. So what's my eye colour, huh?
At home I have a three year old son, and a partner
who sings in a band. At gigs I stand watching
the crowd holler for the body in front of them,
and my partner and I hate the fact that they don't
listen to a word of the carefully constructed song that
she first wrote on my stomach under a fierce moon.
The Bloody Old Café
I'd never been there before - I would
have remembered the theatricality
and prices. Tea was ten pee, milk
and sugar already in. Bread with marg
was 5p a slice. The place was filled
with tramps and actors, and also
Julia and I, for no reason I can recall.
Somehow there were red plush curtains
and a level of cleanliness.
I'm only fifty but already everything's
gone. Much more important spaces
than the café. Oh now my love,
remember my former beauty and
superimpose it on my wrecked face
and formless body. Make me tea
in a stupid student mug, not my
favourite cup and saucer. And let
me die when high, fucking you,
or someone else who can still shriek
with laughter or horror,
and press their lipstick to my lips.
Cathy Bryant is disabled and bisexual. After being homeless in her teens, Cathy worked as a life model, civil servant and childminder before writing professionally. She has won 28 literary awards and her work has been published all over the world. Cathy's poetry collections are Contains Strong Language and Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Look at All the Women and Erratics. Cathy lives in Manchester, UK.