hated reading work by women

January 13, 2017


I just knew in a quiet way I was ruined. If I agreed to be female. There was so much evidence on the screen and in books. I read Doris Lessing in literature class and that depressed the shit out of me too. I just hated reading work by women or about women because it always added up the same. Loss of self, endless self-abnegation even as the female was trying to be an artist, she wound up pregnant, desperate, waiting on some man. A Marxist guy, perhaps. When would it end.”

Eileen Myles
Foreword to I Love Dick by Chris Kraus

My lover’s pussy…

April 10, 2016


I always put my pussy in the middle of trees like a waterfall, like a doorway to God, like a flock of birds. I always put my lover’s cunt on the crest of a wave, like a flag that I can pledge my allegiance to. This is my country. Here when we’re alone in public. My lover’s pussy is a badge, is a nightstick, is a helmet, is a deer’s face, is a handful of flowers, is a waterfall, is a river of blood, is a Bible, is a hurricane, is a soothsayer.

Eileen Myles
poem for Jill Soloway’s Amazon TV series Transparent


Is it so great for women now? I’m not convinced. We can disregard the media but nonetheless its propaganda surrounds us…When people talk about my work they talk about whether or not it’s memoir. They talk about genre. They don’t even want to talk about my writing. I have lots of good answers, but they just can’t decide what I’m doing. Like I signed up to listen to them muse. It’s so about being female. They just can’t trust that I know what I’m doing. I mean, to be this far in your life and to be in such an arena of specialty and to be endlessly questioned like you’re the secretary. Of course. How would I know what art is? Some guy interviewed me and he clearly hadn’t read my book, and he asked me why I didn’t think it was memoir. I told him in great detail and very carefully and wisely I thought and then he said “Got it.” Like impatiently, like would I please shut up. I mean he hadn’t read it. But he was impatient with me. I think I’m hardly more than a symptom. It’s not so good. I guess I’m wondering why anyone thinks I’m a woman. I think that’s more interesting. I wonder why I should even be interviewed as a woman. If they can decide what my book is why can’t I decide what I am? I mean I know I can in our queer world—that’s a given—but in the literary world…Since a woman is one who “doesn’t know,” why shouldn’t we just refuse our gender? What would be the answer? Rape?


Eileen Myles

September 13, 2015

40th Street

August 19, 2015


I’d like
to say

that when
I change

the pot
doesn’t know
it for
a few

it’s awaiting
the tempo
of French
espresso &
El Pico
is back

it’s inexplicable
the glass pot

is dulled

so wake
me up
with your

in a few
days you’ll
be shaped
like this
& a new

Be patient
pot. Advance
the parade.

Eileen Myles

Peanut Butter

August 17, 2015

I am always hungry
& wanting to have
sex. This is a fact.
If you get right
down to it the new
unprocessed peanut
butter is no damn
good & you should
buy it in a jar as
always in the
largest supermarket
you know. And
I am an enemy
of change, as
you know. All
the things I
embrace as new
are in
fact old things,
re-released: swimming,
the sensation of
being dirty in
body and mind
summer as a
time to do
nothing and make
no money. Prayer
as a last re-
sort. Pleasure
as a means,
and then a
means again
with no ends
in sight. I am
absolutely in opposition
to all kinds of
goals. I have
no desire to know
where this, anything
is getting me.
When the water
boils I get
a cup of tea.
Accidentally I
read all the
works of Proust.
It was summer
I was there
so was he. I
write because
I would like
to be used for
years after
my death. Not
only my body
will be compost
but the thoughts
I left during
my life. During
my life I was
a woman with
hazel eyes. Out
the window
is a crooked
silo. Parts
of your
body I think
of as stripes
which I have
learned to
love along. We
swim naked
in ponds &
I write be-
hind your
back. My thoughts
about you are
not exactly
forbidden, but
exalted because
they are useless,
not intended
to get you
because I have
you & you love
me. It’s more
like a playground
where I play
with my reflection
of you until
you come back
and into the
real you I
get to sink
my teeth. With
you I know how
to relax. &
so I work
behind your
back. Which
is lovely.
is out of control
you tell me &
that’s what’s so
good about
it. I’m immoderately
in love with you,
knocked out by
all your new
white hair

why shouldn’t
I have always
known be the
very best there
is. I love
you from my
starting back
there when
one day was
just like the
rest, random
growth and
breezes, constant
love, a sand-
wich in the
middle of
a tiny step
in the vastly
path of
the Sun. I
squint. I
wink. I
take the

Eileen Myles


Laughing screams of sex wafted in from the apartment directly across from my window – Tony’s German boy was in town this weekend. Spank spank. Tomorrow Tony’d be talking about what they did. I tried to explain I wasn’t that cool when he had me over for tea . You’re a dyke, he teased. Um, no. Really! I felt like I was the most normal person in the whole world because I grew up in Boston, didn’t do drugs and had to pay my rent. I had a bottom line and it wasn’t even food, but once food was gone, I began the scramble to keep cigarettes and coffee in the picture, but finally absolutely rent. Tony told me he sucked the landlord’s cock to pay his. You could probably do it too, he winked. Our landlord had an office on the first floor and he had a wide straw hat with a striped band and he wore fat ties and a striped double-breasted jacket and generally exuded an aura of hip businessman. Some college professors also had this look. Our rent was so cheap. It seemed kind of cool to have a building full of sluts. Everyone helping each other. I kind of admired him for that. But when he said my name in this leading way: hello Miss Myles do you have something for me, I kind of froze. It was like a multiple choice test.

Eileen Myles, Inferno

Plan the book party…

August 12, 2015


February 13, 1982

Time passes. That’s for sure. It’s the nightmare of having what you want that I’m interested in today. I had a book party five years ago. It took place in New York where I live and it was the beginning of the end for me.

I’m a very different person today. Bill’s coming over to build shelves in the kitchen. Things have a slow progression, kind of a pleasant listiness. A big part of my list is the past. I went over to Rose’s to plan the book party. Power Mad Press, which was Barbara, was publishing my book. Barbara lived with Rose in a loft and that’s where we were going to have the party. Rose is an astrologer. She pointed to February 13th on her calendar. It’s got to be this date, she said. Absolutely. But why, I asked. A lot of things will converge for you on this date. Your Mars, a lot of your aspects . . . I don’t know how to explain it, but this is YOU. Maybe you don’t want your party to be such an intense experience. It could be a lot quieter. It depends on what you want. Rose was like a lawyer, or a salesman. You never knew if she was making this stuff up — if she really had her finger on the pulsation of the orbs and if she did, I mean, if she really had the power, was she on my side.

I watched the way she played with her cats. What if she was just very powerful and intuitive, but to her we were all just cats. It was an interesting place to be and I decided to go with her

I made a very nice white on black invitation. Mostly the party was publicized by word of mouth. I bought some cocaine. I was a very down and out person. Sort of a beer drinker, really. The kind of person who always had diet pills in her faded jean pockets. My main concern really was that I didn’t get so drunk that I fell down or turned it into an embarrassing night in some way. It was an early evening event. I had slept with this girl who was a musician and who I was currently in love with. She left around noon, left me to my cigarettes, and a nice foggy musing upon my pink floral sheets and the birds outside my window and the slender branches of the trees. I have an old cemetery outside my window and I felt like Keats in the 1800s or something. I could feel the nervousness rising in me like some kind of strange spring, inside and out. The winter had a way to go, but there’s always days in February when you forget that. For me to put down one hundred dollars for cocaine was something, but all in service of this wonderful amazing day – the long-awaited book and of course my new life.

I suppose I had the typical horror of what if nobody shows up. I went over to the loft relatively early and I know I was full of the deep calm of one who is in a total panic. I smoked significant cigarettes. The whole thing wasn’t very professional. We didn’t even know we could sell books. We had maybe twenty available copies. The rest of the books were there in the loft but a couple of things were missing from them. One was the name of the photographer who did the photos front and back. Irene Young would be pissed if she didn’t get credit so we had a stamp made and dutifully stamped her name in red ink on the credit page The other thing missing from the book was a whole stanza, the last stanza of a poem called “New York.” Here’s the stanza:

Then entering the subway, pushing through
the crowds at 34th, I saw a
baby sucking desperately on its bottle
tears streaming down its tat dark face.
As it sat in its carriage. It stopped me,
I turned, examined some flowers
for sale, cloth on silky green leaves
mounted on a comb. I plucked
up a black one, a black rose, paid the
guy a dollar. I love it.
I’m softly fingering the petals on the
subway home, it is so artificial
so dark and so beautiful.

I thought “it is so artificial / so dark and so beautiful” referred to New York. Now it strikes me that I was talking about my life. Line four should read “fat dark face,” not “tat.”

So what happened once the party got going was that as people wanted copies of the book I had to go into the back room and stamp “Irene Young” and the final stanza of “New York” into each copy. My book was called A Fresh Young Voice From the Plains. I had always figured if I had a book I would want my face all over it. The experience was like television. Every book hanging off the end of someone else’s hand was like another tiny monitor. As more and more people began to flow in it meant that that many more pictures were bobbing around the room. What a horror. Particularly in relation to the people I didn’t know. They would look down at their book and then up at me. Oh, it’s you. Here it was a big moment in my life and to them it was just another party. I began to join that group. Some beer, some coke. Some people you know. I would go in the back and people would offer me some coke and then I would offer mine to other people. People seemed surprised that I had my own coke. Of course. It’s my party. It’s a self-serving event…

Eileen Myles


Sex is problematic. I mean, isn’t it? In the world, and definitely the poetry world. Yet it’s everywhere in the world of your poems. Sex is the desire to survive—not just to multiply, but to be. Yet a queer person is always told to ACT LIKE US—for your own good—so you won’t bring all this grief upon yourself. Be like this, and not that. This kind of persuasion goes beyond simply telling us what we should do and look like, but informs us of what we should read and write. It gets under your skin. There’s a threat inside of it. People are all afraid of what they will become …

Eileen Myles


April 7, 2015


One boring March evening
my parents were
trying to think
of something
to do since
Dad was sober
for a change
they decided to fuck.
At that moment
I got an idea
I wrestled with it
said, Ok, fuck, I’ll try it.
That was in December.
Now we’re in May
& still don’t know
what to do. I wish television
existed in 1949.
It would’ve been Bilko
instead of me
and you’d be doing something
else right now.
You understand my problem
I suppose. Why this?!
and the leaves shake
it’s getting light again
that’s how it always starts
—you get caught up again.
Memories are for lovers
but I really don’t know one
who isn’t like my mother
really telling the same story
over & over again
until someone decides
to leave home. If Mom left town
the kids would have a house.
All the runaway notes
I left in childhood
were just substitutes
for Mom will you please leave.
But here I am getting
caught up in my own story.
I need a teevee
or to be in a series
—Lesbian Mother
a cute thirty-five year old woman
living with her collected kids
in a covered wagon
turning them onto booze
& shit. A very human drama.
To be very real you have to be
full of shit. Like the
streets. Why don’t you run for Mayor
you slob, and clean this
town up! I’m very embarrassed for us.
I won’t bring my kids
up in this mess.

Eileen Myles