8.10 / October 2013 :: Queer 4

Two Poems


listen to this poem


blushing brides bearing witness
virginal, white, innocent, etc.

ring like a rope, ring
like dog’s piss on the tree
marking territory

blush on my cheeks or
name of exotic-dance nightclub

In a non-erotic sense, the word
“exotic” applies to something out of
the ordinary or perceived by
spectators as unusual.


greek men at fast food restaurant:
i like your piercings, very tribal or
cousin’s grandmother: they look
good on you because you look exotic

when T read his newest poem,
said: i want to impregnate
a hundred and ninety seven women

from a hundred and ninety seven
different countries

i was screaming: what about us
fractional women, split and

what number do i divide by
what shade

what line drawn in the sand,
across the bedroom floor, my
mother says: you’re not brown. your
sister is, but you’re white.

under what light was i measured?
and what if i were blushing?


Blushing is closely associated with
shame. Some people believed African
Americans did not experience it
because their blushing was not

Blushing refers to the involuntary
reddening of a person’s face due to
embarrassment or emotional stress,
though it has been known to come
from being lovestruck, or from some
kind of romantic stimulation


my father tells D about cashews:
the false fruit and how to extract
the nut, how he used to crack
open the shells

my mother offers us white wine
that i only drink when she leaves
the room. warms my throat, my
cheeks and nose.

i tell D about the Goan restaurant
owner in Squirrel Hill who gave
my father free feni on my

and the man who climbed the
coconut tree with nothing but a
white rag and dropped them to
his partner below

and how my father tells her, i was
going to buy you a smaller car
because then maybe you wouldn’t
buy so much food

and how resilient my mother is,
never gets red even in company
while he tells her to slow down
on the pumpkin cake


someone says,  i know you’re
Indian, but what kind? dots or

feathers? someone else, what are
you, Italian?

my cheeks heat up, collect sweat
at the hairline: the shame of
being found out, or worse: not

how literal they were about
colored, though my skin lightens
in the winter.

the irrelevance of inaccuracy:
guilty until proven white.


i redden when our hands brush
accidentally, i graze her bare leg

between this, and betweener:
what to call someone who loves
and is more than one:

fractions practiced as defining,
the Kinsey scale enumerates love,
the Brazilian IGBE census
records: whites, browns, blacks,
yellows, and indigenous based on
the shade of ones skin

what number is assigned if
i have loved a woman without
touching? under what light do i
measure myself, and what if i
have tanned? and what if i am



listen to this poem

“That’s the famous joke: I don’t like peas, and I’m glad I don’t like them, because if I liked them I would eat them and I hate them.”—Quentin Crisp

i eat my peas slowly, mash each one with my tongue.
use a spoon to preserve structure.

roll them around before they explode.
we call this savoring.

i keep them hidden in the back
boxes under the bed.

halve the blanket and kneel
forehead to carpet to reach them.

i have unmade you of peas, too,
molded you like clay.

a pink pea between your legs or a string of white
around your neck, hanging from your ears.

laying on a soft bed of them beneath pea-shaped stars,
with peas dropping from the wrists of trees,

stuffed plump under your nails as you grab the sheets.
tear-shaped peas on your cheek as i kiss you.

peas crammed in rolling paper that we smoke
out the window before fucking.

silver peas on gold bands, dried peas thrown
as we walk out of the church.

i have many pea sculptures in your likeness,
one for every meal of the day.

there’s one for lying to, and three for kissing.
i keep them hidden in the closet.

some nights i get so hungry that i’ll taste a finger,
or a chunk of your hair.

but i eat your peas slowly,
mash each one with my tongue.

Melissa Dias-Mandoly lives in Pittsburgh with her cat, Catrick Bateman. She has degrees in poetry and film studies, and currently works for the University of Pittsburgh Press. Her work has been featured in Storm Cellar, Broad!, Collision, and more.
8.10 / October 2013 :: Queer 4