The Real Politics of Lipstick, by Mary Carroll-Hackett

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The Real Politics of Lipstick, by Mary Carroll-Hackett (2010)

"I've always found something seductive about the prose poem. One undresses the prose only to discover that poetry has another button. Mary Carroll-Hackett's first poem in this book will make you lose your innocence. Life and death meet in The Real Politics of Lipstick. Like a first kiss there are poems here you'll long remember after you turn your face from the reading. From Gaza or a soldier returning to Iraq for another tour of duty, things slip quietly into the world according to Caroll-Hackett. A few poems contain references to food, but the real nourishment comes from this Southern woman's ability to shake and bake on the page. Carroll-Hackett's poems smell with the urgency of now. Inhale with celebration. I already have lipstick on my collar."
E. Ethelbert Miller                   
The Real Politics of Lipstick Copyright 2010 by Mary Carroll-Hackett

Poet Bio:
Mary Carroll-Hackett
Sample Poems:
Neanderthal        The Food She Makes Him        The Real Politics of Lipstick

Mary Carroll-Hackett
Mary Carroll-Hackett Mary Carroll-Hackett earned an MFA in Literature and Writing from Bennington College in June 2003. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in more than a hundred journals including Carolina Quarterly, Clackamas Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, The Potomac, Stone Table Review, Reed and more. Her awards include being named a North Carolina Blumenthal Writer and winner of the Willamette Award for Fiction. Her first book, a collection of stories, What the Potter Said, was released in July 2005. Her scripts have won or placed in numerous competitions, including Moondance, the Great Lakes Film Festival, Beaufort Film Festival, American Gem Short Script, Gimme Credit Short Script, the Page Awards, and Wildsound. Wildcard Pictures recently staged a full reading of her script Outer Banks at the National Center for Film in Toronto. She currently directs Creative Writing at Longwood University in Farmville, VA where she founded and edits The Dos Passos Review, Briery Creek Press, and The Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry.



The boy she loved in high school, or thought she loved, because he was
so insistent, because he pursued her so. Junior year, he followed her to
Nags Head even after she had dumped him, risking arrest by walking
into her biology class two years after he’d quit to work repairing cars
in the daytime, selling meth at night. His mouth powdery, ancient,
conquered hers as everyone in Mr. Bullock’s class looked on. His
insistence confirmed her belief that Neanderthals had not, in fact,
vanished, but bred, bowed bone to long femur, coarse into fine, into any
number of their taller sisters, homo sapienettes, who laid back accepting
his devolved beauty, but only where they wouldn’t be seen. After, she
moved again to the fires of her own kind, sending him back to scrape
hides, believing her birthright came from finer bones, shapelier skull.
He must have watched her, seen her satiated. Secretly animalized. That
boy, Randy, black eyes beneath ridged brow, led her to the beach below
the motel, sand sliding a world away beneath them, his demanding hands
showing again and again that he wanted her, wanted her like no one else,
her pelvis a dense flat rock worthy of pounding, flint sharp hips against
his, bent on making a spark against extinction, shaping a species.

Copyright ©2010 Mary Carroll-Hackett

The Food She Makes Him

she still cuts in tiny bites, Ahi tuna almond soaked, sesame slick and
shiny, nori wrap blooming from the pads of her fingers, until each seam
gleams from her mother’s touch. She pinces sticky rice, each grain
twice-rinsed, to free the starch, to feed this son, strengthen the march
of those infant legs she recalls, the thump and pull as he swam up from
the hollow sway beneath her ribs. Her hand cupped on her belly, back
then she imagined him a sharp-tailed shrimp, frothy pink curl of flesh,
anemone in a sweetened sea. He belongs to me, she had whispered,
hollowing melon with the bowl of her spoon. Giving she knows. It
means to live. So even now, dumplings grow fat and rich in broth, aji,
sweet pickles, salted cod, daikon, miso ball for soup. He will always
want miso, when he comes. She’ll boil water later, fry enoki, eggplant,
as good as that wife might wish she could make, that wife who keeps
him, so far away, for years now, in a city she’s never seen, where she
knows, just knows, the Ahi is never fresh, the nori dying from lack of
salt and water.

Copyright ©2010 Mary Carroll-Hackett

The Real Politics of Lipstick

She learned the secret authority of her mouth at a young age, too
young to form the words, but she understood the looks men gave at the
innocence of the Tootsie Pop in her lips, a generous mouth her mother
called it, easily sliding from a smile to a sulk, that ice cream cone a
weapon that she wielded easily by the age of fourteen, the sweet cream
of it deliberately left on the cushion of her bottom lip as she watched
them stare, sweat, shift away from their wives. Look up at me, look up
at me, they said, and she did, especially after she discovered the ultimate
power of lipstick, blood red for regular guys her age, who wanted to
rush, wanted to own the cleft of her upper lip, the tangle of hair they
fisted at the crown of her head, but she switched to blushing pink for
older men, that sweet slow youth they struggled to remember, cotton
candy, candy apple smeared across her cheek as they mouthed thank you
thank you thank—. They all thought they were taking her, as she knelt,
eyes lifted, thinking of nothing more than how for that moment, she
owned them, branded each forever with the tip of her tongue, shadowy
traces of lipstick that would never completely wash away.

Copyright ©2010 Mary Carroll-Hackett