Venus Cohen.jpg

Two Poems

Venus Cohen

CAMP FABULISM

in my closet

ten million stitches in my closet

g-d says not to mix fabrics but in my closet

i’ve got leather//pleather//latex//cotton//suede//velvet//jersey//knit in my closet

in my closet

sequins//beads//rhinestones//costume pearls//feather boas in my closet

liza minnelli lives in my closet!

she’s always watching this dusty copy of cats 1998 in my closet 

liza minnelli slips me some coke under the door in my closet

in my closet

we can hear the mice chew through the walls in my closet 

probably running away from cats in my closet…

 

I used to know that I was Liza Minnelli. I have photos of myself after watching Cabaret for the first time in full Sally regalia. The photos exist on the internet in a safe place, in a locked Photobucket, and I’ve thrown away the key. I later realized that I was actually Alan Cumming- No, Joel Grey. But I’d rather be Alan Cumming than J.G! Better voice. Better body, yeah. Then I realized that I was neither Liza nor Alan, but some very strange version of the two! I was birthed right there on the Cabaret-stage during the climax of Money Money Money, oooh, Money. 

They stepped over my wriggling baby-body and finished the number.

 

In heaven, everything is fine.

 

I stow away in closets because closets are filled to the brim with things that people need but don’t want to see: An old wedding dress from “fifteen years and fifty lbs ago” (white women are always saying that), the corset you can’t lace up without your best friend’s foot on your back, the strap-on that you keep taking out and putting back in because maybe tonight is the night but it’s never the night, the boys who think they are straight but they want to fuck you but they won’t admit that they aren’t straight so you just fuck them right in the closet, with the strap on, the old stage costumes, the vacuum cleaner and the extra linens, and Liza Minelli and Alan and the cast of Cats 1998, cause you don’t really want to see them but you need to know they’re there

[Valleygirl Accent Required]

like // being femme is an open invitation to consume parts of my body

 

I wonder sometimes if people like// invite themselves inside of me simply because of my sexual availability. Or is it my naïve method of like// making friends with monsters, or my femininity? If I like// let entropy take my body, it would melt into a state of middle-masculinity in a few days time, and that’s really unfortunate because, like// I just don’t love my beard! I don’t think that’s like// terrible to say… But like// if the beard lengthens, do the hands stop prying into me? I’m like// two years out from my last round of cheek fillers and I really want to top off, but if I don’t, will men like// leave me alone? It’s not as if I could even go get them soon anyway cause like// I have an appointment for the covid vax and sometimes the immune response will trigger in your body and your fillers will inflate and swell, leaving you like// a fucked up version of pete burns. So like// If I don’t wear something vapid and delicious over my gross naked body will the fingers stop their pressing thrusts? If I just button some gray shirt to the top button at my neck and strap down my tits with a binder, will that save me from the seeking? If I wear pants that buckle at the waist below the belly and leave me feeling like// like// a sausage or something, will that stop the invasion? 

 

I’m sorry but that is like// so incredibly boring. 

 

Can we collectively introspect about this insidious method of tearing down and away our femmehood? In order to protect our-femmeselves from the un-asked for advances of entitled hands, we have to strip our entire like// aesthetic identity away? I can’t be bothered to masculinize uncomfortably for the purpose of self-protection, that is like// trading one downer for another! So what’s the manifemmesto, here?

 

 If you exist on the fringes of polite society, there is no use being bored or boring for safety! 

 

We are not safe! 

Jie Venus Cohen is a mixed, transsexual/intersex writer. Their work explores the intersections of surrealism and identity, and has been published or forthcoming in Boston Fashion Week, Serotonin Poetry, Singapore Unbound, and Poets.org, amongst others. They are the editor-in-chief of LUPERCALIApress and assistant editor at Smoke and Mold Journal