Postcard Poem and Under the Knife

Magazine cover reading "The quiet epidemic: Gay-baiting as right-wing tactic. Gay-baiting is new in Southern politics. There is reason to believe that it will replace racism and anti-communism on the top of the bag of tricks of conservative Southern politicians."

This article originally appeared in Southern Exposure Vol. 13 No. 5, "The Quiet Epidemic: Gay-baiting as Right-wing Tactic." Find more from that issue here.

Postcard Poem

It should be brief

and written in

indelible ink, so the postman's

hands, sweaty with the strain

of so many words on his shoulders,

will not smudge your message.

It should contain the expected “wish

you were here,” but no return address;

it should bear an exotic stamp

with the likeness

of the martyred leader of an

underdeveloped nation, or a plea

to save a nearly extinct species

of sea mammal. Through panoramic

views dominated by impossibly blue

skies, it should imply

that where you are

is the only place to be.


Under the Knife

By Judith Ortiz Cofer


She wipes blood from her knife

across a kitchen towel.

The thick contents of a just decapitated

hen spill into the sink.

I feel slightly nauseated but must

forbear for my aunt's sake. Childless

family martyr; renowned for her patience

with human frailty, and her cooking.

Her man drinks; she has failed three times

at childbearing. She squeezes the last

of the blood from the neck and a blue button

falls into her hand. Rinsing it, she drops it

into her apron pocket. As she places the pale carcass and

the knife before me she explains

how to cut the pieces with even, forceful

strokes: no hacking. She is under

no obligation to be kind.

The mothers and the daughters

have given her a lifetime license to mourn.

Like a queen in exile she acknowledges

nothing as a privilege. The pale fingers

of my aunt work with precision over

the pink flesh, showing me just how

to separate the tough from the tender.