Jillian Weise


They call me patient. They pull
with pliers and plug with gauze.

In the pre-operation room, an intern
touches my tibia, fibula ...

Now in the bedroom, I stretch over
him, but it is only night, mattress, plaster

ceiling, a stack of mail on the dresser, a woman
with one leg, a song from camp:

Way up in the sky, the little birds fly ...
Someone unbuttons her shirt.

Gives her a thin sheet for hiding.
She's thinking of white space, tunnels,

a body that waits for her on a coat hanger.

* * *


She's had it easy, you know.

I knew her from FSU, back before she was disabled.
I mean she was disabled, but she didn't write like it.

Did she talk like it? Do you know what it is, exactly?

She used to wear these huge dresses to cover it up.
She had a poem in The Atlantic.

Yes, I'll take water.

Me too. With a slice of lemon.

After that poem in the The Atlantic . . .
It makes you wonder.

Oh, she's had it easy all right.

She should come out and state the disability.
She actually is very dishonest.

I met her once at AWP. Tiny thing. Limps a little.
I mean not really noticeable.

What are you going to have?

I can't decide.

How can she write like she's writing
for the whole group? I mean c'mon.

It's kind of gross. It's kind of offensive. It's kind of
a commodification of the subaltern identity.

Should we have wine? Let's have something light.
It makes you wonder how she lives with herself,
with her tokenism. And such narcissism.

I wouldn't mind. I wouldn't mind.
I would commodify and run.

She's had it easy.

I can't stand political poetry.

She doesn't even write about it critically.

You would think, if it really concerns her,
she would write an article or something.

I heard she's not that smart. My friend was in
class with her at FSU and he said actually
she's not that smart.

I believe it. I mean the kind of language
she uses, so simple, elementary. It's like
am I in a poem or . . . ?

My friend said she actually believes
her poems have speakers.

Oh, that's rich. I'm sorry but if the book
is called amputee and you're an amputee
then you are the speaker. That's so funny.

So New Criticism.

Really I don't like her work at all. I find it,
well, lacking.

* * *


I am so sick of reading poems by people
who must be bored in their homes
about soldiers with their legs blown off

and how sorry the people feel for them
and how awful America is and rotten.
I am so sick of reading poems by people

who have their civil rights and say, Yes,
I feel your pain
before they pull
a short night for a long poem about legs

blown into ditches and across streets
and under trees as the soldiers
come to Walter Reed to find a poem

in a magazine that reads You're
nothing now, Good as dead, What a pity
is your country
by a poet whose legs

are attached at the hip and knee
who is drinking chamomile tea.
I am so sick of reading these poems
by the patricians of poetry.

*from Jillian Weise's book The Amputee's Guide to Sex


Jillian Weise is the author of the poetry collection The Amputee's Guide to Sex and the novel The Colony. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times and Tin House, among others. She was a poetry fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and a Fulbright fellow in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina before joining the faculty at Clemson University.