In 2019 You Can’t Slap My Face with My Face by Julia Cohen

This lyric essay describes an assault

In 2019 You Can’t Slap My Face with My Face

I puncture the froth of your root beer float with a paper straw | My socks are made of snow | I gut all books & fill them with the greenest, coldest moss | I wear red & white striped pajamas like a sleepy candy cane | Perpetually look for glass grapes at thrift stores | I want you to have nothing to hide | In 2018 I could not get a dick I did not want in my mouth out of my mouth | Or rather, I want you to hide nothing | Unlike a candy cane I cannot melt i.e. I will never be sticky in your mouth | I am sticky for myself.

I keep burnt matches in tiny jars | I eat salads on benches | I would be a happy squirrel | I might be a happier squirrel than I am a human | I never replace my shampoo until it’s empty & I am hot & wet & tangled | I like to show you my hot & red ass when I get out of the shower like the inverse of shame in Carson’s Glass, Irony & God | The bridge of my nose feels different than how it looks | In 2018 I was pinned to the carpet with a dick in my mouth | It’s hard to poach two eggs at once | But I am too impatient to wait | I let my dog lick peanut butter off of spoons | I pretend to wash my silverware better than I do | Is it possible to be emptied of shame? | Intimacy like ivy could crawl across our faces | Could make a tent fort out of couch cushions.

I like to wrap presents in newspaper | I find old newspaper in attics | I have 11 unmatched socks | I’m embarrassed by how much work I do from bed | There are white umbrellas on my shirt | I was always too tall for hand-me-downs | Or was that just the feeling of tallness | Like a child I fantasize about my next meal | Intimacy is letting me read the notes in the margins of your books | My hands are lilacs | It’s insane how so much of your life can be dickless how so much of your mouth cannot have dick yet the two hours of dick you do not want is not a containable time cannot be relegated to the body it belonged to | What version of a phantom limb is this? | In thrift stores glass grapes are placed next to 70s ashtrays | Avoid beige & mustard | From bed I comment on most homework that students are “thoughtful & thorough” | I am pajamaed & not sticky.

I have battled against placemats & lost | Orange pulp inside an empty glass | Can you believe you won’t be rejected for what embarrasses you? | Can you believe there is no need for shame? | If you can, then what? Trust? | Let me leave my lilac hands | Sticky with scent | In 2018 there was a dick | So what | I am giddy with popcorn | My students impress me with their care in selecting quotes | With their openness about mental illness | With the sequins glued to their cheeks | I search for some objects I never collect | Each time I see my own face I am amazed.

In 2019 all my writings will have a dick in them or maybe in 2019 all my writing will have 0 dick | Is it possible to hide nothing? | What is hidden is shame | What shame hides | What shame hides, intimacy cannot reach | Two cushions on a couch | A bowl of glass grapes | O bulbous glass grape | O clump of frozen fruit | O like a nest of paperweights | O you cannot rot & you cannot be scried | O to warm the cold color in my lap | O to want more than warmth | Shame is a cold knot that could dissolve could be a wet spot we talk about.


In 2019 You Cant Slap My Face With My Face


Julia Cohen’s most recent book is a hybrid collection of lyric essays, I Was Not Born (Noemi Press, 2014). Her poetry books are Collateral Light (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2014) and Triggermoon Triggermoon (Black Lawrence Press, 2011).  Her work appears in journals like Juked, The Rumpus, Boston Review, BOMB, DIAGRAM, Entropy, The Destroyer. She can be found at:


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