Poetry Corner: "Diet Talk Blues"

I could be constructing PowerPoint slideshows for my Race and Ethnic Relations class... or I could be slapping together some videos of me performing my poetry. Guess which won out. 

Anyway, below is a video of me performing "Diet Talk Blues." The written version is below. I welcome all thoughts. 

The Diet Talk Blues

Come closer.
I have a secret,
A little chunk of my soul
I severed and packaged just for you:
I don’t give a shit about your Weight Watchers™.
Couldn’t care less about Jenny Craig™.
Your thinspiration? Caloric restriction?
Decision not to eat biscuits
for the past seventeen years?
Your heroic escape from dieting
and rebirth into a
“lifestyle change”?
Yeah. Don’t care.
Couldn’t pay me to care less
(and that’s saying a lot,
because I’m criminally cheap).

I don’t know if anyone’s ever
sat you down
and explained this.
I’m a teacher, so I guess I’m elected.
You know, as Southern women say,
“bless your heart,”
but nobody cares about your diet,
your decision to eat, breathe, live
How do I put this?
We really wish you’d learn
the fine art of taciturnity,
otherwise known as
“shutting your pie hole.”
Bless your heart.

Think about it.
“I just lost twenty-seven pounds
and can get back into
those old college slacks!”
For everyone who buys –
literally and spiritually --
into diet culture,
into remodeling bodies like ’57 Chevies,
your words chafe. They hurt.
They scrape and scour and grate.
Their body scars tear asunder,
they bleed shame and anger --
and, who knows, maybe jealousy.
You know those skinny slacks?
Metaphorical blood stains, too,
and you can never get that out.

Those people who hate diet culture?
Who know how this institution --
this deadly, expensive, shaming, divisive, unhealthy institution --
mows down bodies and expectations,
chews them into an astroturf mulch
that rots without fertilizing,
know it and, ahem,
write poems about
its 95% failure rate?
We’re bored.
I mean, you’re great and all,
but we’d really prefer to talk about
global warming, Dr. Who, and
the buttery softness of warm biscuits.

And fat people.
Imagine what we hear:
You’d rather deprive yourself,
starve yourself,
jog in place on expensive machinery
till your face burns
and your muscles weep,
annoy people with tales of Weight Watchers™
than look like us.
Like me.

Speaking of me, I like me.
I love this body
that rumbles through space,
that bends time like a stole –
faux fur, of course –
around this vastness,
that tramples weeds and fake grass
beneath tough, bare, fat feet.
Why would I want to change this,
my body?
Why would I want to hear about you
changing yours?
I mean, minus the Weight Watchers™ thing,
I kind of like you.

Someday, if you want,
You’re welcome to hitch a ride
on the ol’ body love bandwagon.
I thought about saying,
“Join me -- there are biscuits,”
But you know what?
Not every body love warrior
likes biscuits,
fantastic as that may sound.
The only thing we have in common
is freedom,
freedom from the body hate dictate.
But freedom is still pretty nice
and I have to say,
it tastes a lot better than
frozen, prepackaged, carefully weighed and precounted
diet food.


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