poem about emojis and jenny slate, with footnotes

seph mozes

historically we use man for people of any gender because men win.

so it’s useful to do that when cornered (1)

have you ever been cornered?

this week the ministry of emojis announced a new line of gender neutral emoji people

the gender neutral emoji people look like the woman emoji people

except that they have shorter hair and they wear tank tops and pants

they stand poised on the keyboard, ready to work

they work for the first ever privately owned language

they are good at their jobs

like men, they are perfectly simple, normal, natural

like women, they are helpful, smiling, apologetic, friendly

have you ever wanted to be smooth and dry all over like a posable wooden doll?

cordelia: are you a man or a woman? [. . .]

fool: which would you rather? it’s all the same to me

goneril: how can you be so . . . accommodating?

fool: it’s what I’m paid for (2)

unlike non-binary or genderqueer or butch or fem or trans

all of which suggest an active claiming of difference,

self-definition in opposition to a norm—

neutral suggests a serene lack of desire

or rather, an intense desire not to get in the way

neutral is practical,

winning, cool, unadorned, placid, earth-toned, sans serif, crisp, mid-autumn, dead leaves

neutral shaves with occam’s razor

and never bleeds

that lady is smiling

because she’s an actress

and she’s earning money for learning those speeches 

that mention those wonderful soaps and detergents and cleansers and cleaners and powders and pastes and waxes and bleaches (3)

have you ever been cornered?

right now jenny slate is wearing a pink dress

and a silk tuxedo

she is laughing and dancing around inside of netflix

every time she dances, she makes more money

and the atmosphere gets thicker with the carbon released to run the servers 

that her image, princess-leia-like, is trapped inside,

and I am watching her and I love her

thou art a lady:

if only to go warm were gorgeous,

why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st,

which scarcely keeps thee warm. but, for true need!— (4)

have you ever worn a motorcycle jacket,

although you did not know how to drive a motorcycle?

have you ever been cornered?

have you ever found yourself sitting on a bedroom floor, stoned

with three other men, also stoned,

who only spoke in nervous grunts and catchphrases,

and felt like marcel the shell with shoes on?

did you speak flatly?

did you let your voice

jump and dive and skitter like a balloon?

jenny slate fucked the moon!

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1: anne carson interviewed for the paris review, 2004

2: lear’s daughters by the women’s theatre group and elaine feinstein, 1987

3: “housework” from free to be you and me, written by sheldon harnick, performed by carol channing, 1972

4: king lear by william shakespeare