“The Whore Poem” by Cleo

Issue 24 / Winter 2021 / Special Issue: Pleasure

Listen to Cleo perform “The Whore Poem” while you read along!

My body looks best when it’s bent.

I get it from my mother,
a Midwestern baby boomer,
a proper woman who scrubbed herself clean and married a republican man,
forgets about her college days dancing on sticky bar tables in crop tops that said “foxy” across her tits.

She warns me not to look like a
“’Round the way girl”– her literal words.
Which is great, ‘cause I don’t call myself a girl anymore.
But I am ‘round the way.

Sex-hungry but never starved because what the fuck is a dry spell.
I’ll only call you “daddy” if you’ve earned it, paid me,
or you’ve begged.
I don’t call the “nice” boy back when he says my friends are too loud.
Leaving boys on “re/a/d” like their names are crimson and scarlet.

When he tells me my pronouns are too hard to remember, I forget he likes to be called “baby.”
He becomes “unsaved number #3”

When I refuse to let them mount my head on their wall, men name me “beast.”

The fast-little-girl at the family reunion—
made great uncle’s food go cold,
him too busy drooling over a 13-year-old in a training bra—
grows up into femme fatale.

Fatale? You’d be so lucky
to have my lipsticked mouth devour you whole.
If the ways I’ve turned my body temple make me a round-the-way girl,
a whore—
then let me be a whore.
Let this be the Whore Poem.

The “Whore Poem” as in no, I’m not changing clothes because a man is coming over,
what kind of men are you bringing into the house?
“Whore poem” as in, I had a sugar daddy who paid me more when I taught him the term “emotional labor.”
“Whore poem” as in, just because we fucked to Frank Ocean doesn’t mean I love you.
“Whore poem” as in, writing a sad finsta post or a bad poem won’t make me love you.
“Whore poem” as in, I’m queer but I’m not gonna make out with this girl while you watch us, Chad. 
“Whore poem” as in, trauma, and reclamation, and having good sex because I want to.

My mother warns me not to be a person with a reputation.
But it’s not my fault you bite my flesh and call me a myth.

And how fun it is, being a legend.
You talk shit but you came, didn’t you?
Wanted someone to peg you good and meet your mom after?

Y’all wanna lie on my pussy because you can’t lie on my pussy,
call me a whore when I say yes and no.
You want so much,
And have the nerve to tell me I’m the one who taught you how good greed tastes,
like chocolate-covered cherries, and white privilege, and getting what you want
exactly when you want it.

I just wanted to fuck, wear red lipstick and be left alone on Sunday mornings.

If my body is indeed a temple, then I am, indeed, a whore.
And you can mind your fucking business.

 

 

Cleo (They/Them) is a Black femme genderfluid poet and educator. They have been blessed with opportunities to perform up the East Coast, and have publications out with Kissing Dynamite, Barren Magazine, and Pocketfire. They were a member of Penn State’s 2019 champion CUPSI team and a member of the 2018 2nd place earning “Ashe Not Ashy” FEMs tournament team. A recent Best of the Net nominee, they hope for their poems to heal, hold, and rage.

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