Milk and Filth by Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez Smith reads two poems from her latest collection, Milk and Filth, published in October by University of Arizona Press.

Happy Trigger

Off-season and in
the burnt forest
of my nightgown, a feral
undergrowth that marks
me as burial site—
to be still enough or
just enough.

My arms become fat arms:
hearth. I eat dirt for doubt,
a secret bleached
old as a lie. I out-want
like a spindly
winged monster.
If I were a bug—
were I—then you'd hope
for reparation, and paint
more brown into the plot.


An agitator holds her sign up asking do you feel equal,
so you and your sisters deride her
because she’s so public about injustice, so
second-wave. Your sisters gather around

her with scorn and sully her earnest nature. It’s
thanks but no thanks. I can vote,
walk into the pharmacy for my Plan B, and wear
a chain wallet
. One sister throws an apple

into the melee and the unfazed agitator bites it.
Her straight block-teeth break
the fruit apart which shocks your
sisters, but when they’ve abandoned their mockery

for the lure of a choice bazaar—earrings, Ugg boots,
removable tramp stamps,
a Sex and the City marathon—you’re hot for
the agitator. The crowd clears and you kiss

her sweaty neck and use her agitating sign as a bed.
You scrawl her agitating words
onto your belly and stand naked against
her muscle memory. Not just the cause,

the impulse, the result, but the buzz
of lack. You’d like to consume it right
out of her, that humming electric
dissatisfaction. Then you’d like to put it

out of your body in the form
of a Louise Bourgeois sculpture, milky,
blobbing, love the star-fuckery
of doing it with her and to her, then

the sticky pulling apart,
the eternal production
of polyurethane eggs
wrapped in yarn.

Reprinted from Milk and Filth by permission of University of Arizona Press. Copyright © 2013 Carmen Giménez Smith.