Two Poems by Stacey Waite

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

when butches shoot pool

sometimes one of them goes overboard
sometimes one of them gets drunk
sometimes one of them starts a fight
with a woman who looks like Tony Danza
sometimes one of them sinks the cue ball
sometimes one of them gives the other the last cigarette
sometimes one of them becomes the other’s father
sometimes one of them holds the pool stick like a rifle
sometimes one of them makes fun of the other’s side spin
sometimes one of them hits a three-cushion bank shot
exhales quietly and grins like a pool shark
sometimes one of them has the blue of the chalk on their fingertips
or the blue of the blue chalk in their blue eyes
sometimes one of them calls the other a sissy boy
sometimes one of them plays a sexist song
on the juke box and calls their partner “the wife”
sometimes one of them slaps the quarters down on the table
like it’s the very last pulsing left in their beating hearts
sometimes one of them imagines their rage contained by the triangle
watches it crack open in the other’s clean break
sometimes one them calls the shot by nodding their head
in the direction of the intended pocket
sometimes one of them is wearing the same cologne
they wore in high school
but when the night is over
when they’ve left the bar without yelling or fighting
when they’ve left the last bills for the bartender
when they’ve both spit on the city sidewalk
when they’ve reached the fast food parking lot down by the river
one of them would hold the other if they cried
not that they cry
if they did


Villanelle for the TSA, or Do Not Go, Gender, into that Good Flight

We pledge that if additional screening of your person is required,
it will be provided by a screener of the same gender.

     The TSA’s “Pledge to Travelers”


Oh, TSA, your pledge you cannot keep
my body evades your notion of same.
I don’t dream in gender, genderless sleep.

Who will scan my genderless legs and feet
who will scan my nearly genderless name?
Oh, TSA, your pledge you could not keep.

No beeping, no beeping, no beeping, beep.
Genderless hands should have taken the train.
I don’t dream in gender, genderless sleep.

Which secure hands endure androgynous heat
and which to caress my genderless frame?
Oh, TSA, your pledge you fear to keep.

All your king’s horses, your women unleashed,
there is no gender you can find the same.
I don’t dream in gender, genderless sleep.

All your king’s horses, all your king’s men weep.
Are genderless bodies safe on the plane?
Oh, TSA, your pledge you did not keep.
I don’t dream in gender. In gender, sleep.


Stacey Waite is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln and has published four collections of poems: Choke (winner of the 2004 Frank O'Hara Prize), Love Poem to Androgyny (winner of the 2006 Main Street Rag Chapbook Competition), the lake has no saint (winner of the 2008 Snowbound Prize from Tupelo Press), and Butch Geography (Tupelo Press, 2013). Waite’s poems have been published most recently in The Cream City Review, Bloom, Indiana Review, and Black Warrior Review. Waite is also the co-host of the radio podcast Air Schooner produced by Prairie Schooner.