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Authors: Michael Robbins

The Second Sex

BOOK: The Second Sex
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Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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New York, New York 10014

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A Penguin Random House Company

First published in Penguin Books 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Michael Robbins

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Page 51 constitutes an extension of this copyright page.


Robbins, Michael, 1972–

[Poems. Selections]

The second sex / Michael Robbins.

pages cm.—(Penguin Poets)

eBook ISBN 978-0-698-16901-2

I. Title.

PS3618.O315244A6 2014





Also by Michael Robbins

Title Page




Springtime in Chicago in November

Live Rust

Sonnets to Edward Snowden

The Second Sex

That's Incredible!

Be Myself

Günter Glieben Glauchen Glöben

Seasons in the Abyss

To Anthony Madrid

Not Fade Away

Out of the Cellar

Peel Off the Scabs


Sunday Morning

40th Anniversary Edition


Within a Budding Grove

Poem Beginning with a Line from Samuel Johnson

In the Air Tonight

Friend of the Devil


The Song Remains the Same

Sweat, Piss, Jizz & Blood

Country Music

Oh Wow

On Making Mixes for Girls Who Won't Give Death Metal a Chance

Butcher Holler

Lose Myself

Michael Jackson

Political Poem for Michael Robbins to Sing

Twentieth Century Fox

To the Drone Vaguely Realizing Eastward

Sweet Virginia

Sticky Fingers

Big Country

Out Here in the Fields

Acknowledgments and Notes

About the Author

to the memory of Bill Knott

Look at your money. No one is smiling.


Springtime in Chicago in November

Springtime in Chicago in November.

My forty-first year to heaven.

My left hand wants to know

what my right hand is doing.

Oh. Sorry I asked.

First comes love, which I disparage.

I blight with plagues a baby carriage.

Green means go and red means red.

we're cooking with Sudafed.

Steer by, deerfly. I hereby declare

the deer tick on my derriere

a heretic. Derelict, hunker down.

Get the Led out, Goodman Brown.

Get thee behind me, Nathan.

Horseman, ramble on.

Springtime snows white hairs on me.

Green means go and go means gone.

Live Rust

In the clearing I stand,

a boxer! Putting all your shit

in boxes, dragging the boxes

to this stupid clearing.

A man walks into his forties.

You lost me at “hello.”

I'm tying balloon animals.

Here you go. That's a rooster.

To burn out or to fade away?

I'm keeping my options open.

I'm looking for option C.

I'm boning up on Coptic.

I'm scrolling past the Dead Sea,

talking to Christ on the road

from Kiss My Ass to Damascus.

I kick my prick. I refute it

Be tawdry for me, thou.

Be like unto Sierra Mist

when it opens in the first

cold of spring. Be a Chippewa.

According to the oral history,

outside the Tastee Freez

you sucked on a chili dog

with your head between your knees.

The United States of Fuck You Too

is what you're about to receive.

You can shoot all the kids you like,

but you can never leave.

The mind is a terrible thing.

That outboard motor.

The tedium is the message.

The chimp signs
in his enclosure.

Is this Mick Jagger which I see before me?

Come, let me clutch thee.

I consider the lilies beneath me.

I tell the Magdalene not to touch me.

I tell the miniature schnauzer not to swarm.

I tell my willy it's getting warm.

I tell the content to fuck the form.

Sonnets to Edward Snowden

Who is the United States?

The grassy knoll elaborates.

Ask not what the Dew can do for you.

Ask about our special rates

for armed forces personnel.

All right, then, I'll go to hell.

These colors don't run—

red, white, and carbohydrate gel.

Navy SEALs are good to go


All along the White House fence

the Redskins mascot leads the chants.

Full fathom five Osama lies.

The blue-chip Dow industrials rise.

Who is the United States?

A snail paces by the Golden Gate's

anti-swan-dive hotline sign.

The snail is going to be fine.

Disabling a suicide

detector is prohibited.

A snail searches a starless sky

with the bionic arm he calls an eye.

The stars have got the bee disease.

The disappearing colonies

are no longer buzzworthy.

So ferry cross New Jersey.

I'm a black kid in a hoodie.

This land's the place I love. Et odi.

Who is the United States?

A grief ago—I'm bad with dates—

our fathers brought forth a queer

shoulder in a convex mirror.

I find it hard.

It was hard to found.

Unscrew the lids from the jars!

Prometheus outbound

on Aeroflot follows the Moskva

down to Gorky Park.

I'm proud to be a terrorist.

Mistakes were made at Plymouth Rock.

You might not be aware of this.

The ant's a centaur, more or less.

The Second Sex

After the first sex, there is no other.

I stick my gender in a blender

and click send. Voilà!

Your new ex-girlfriend.

You cuckold me with your husband.

I move a box with Ludacris.

The captain turns on, we begin our descent.

Be gentle with me, I'm new to this.

I say the wrong thing. I have OCD.

My obsessive compulsions are disorderly.

I say the wrong thing, did I already say?

I drive my dominatrix away.

The coyote drives her in a false-bottomed van.

He drops her in the desert. The bluffs are tan.

She'll get a job at Chili's picking up butts.

I feel ya, Ophelia
, I say to my nuts.

And there is pansies. That's for thoughts

That's Incredible!

I will pull an airplane with my teeth

and I will pull an airplane with my hair.

I write about cats. Cats, when you read this,

write about me. Be the change you want to see.

I've legally changed my name to Whites Only.

Changed it back, I should say.

made me

the man I am today.

That, and the University of Phoenix.

Old man, take a look at my life.

Charles Simic, in the gloaming, with a roach,

take a look at my life. I'm a lot like you.

A man stands up and says I will catch

a bullet in my teeth!
That's incredible!

He eats a sword, hilt first, and spits

up a million people persons.

A dolphin pulls an airplane with its blowhole

and keeps the black box for itself.

Bottleneck dolphins don't even have bones,

yet here we are, giving them medals . . .

This is my ass. And that is a hole

in ground zero. I know which is which.

It's the one with the smoke pouring out.

This is my handle; this is my spout.

Be Myself

I took back the night. Wrested it

from the Chinese, many of whom

were shorter than me.

Two billion outstretched Chinese

hands, give or take a few

thousand amputees.

A cheap knockoff, the night

proved to be—

on the touch screen.

Well, even Old Peng gotta eat,

Confucius say. Or maybe that

was Cassius Clay.

In me, folks, a movable object

meets a resistible force. I haven't

worked a day since the accident

of birth. Born of woman,

my father the same. Make love

then war. I'll bring round the car.

These children that I spit on

are immune to my consultations.

I'll have none myself. It isn't

it!) a fiasco. I am small,

I contain platitudes.

Günter Glieben Glauchen Glöben

Says here to burn the rich and take their shit.

I'm paraphrasing. I'm barely grazing

the surplus. Do the rich have inner lives,

like little lambs and Antigone?

They never give me their money.

Bill Gates, the great humanitarian,

stands upon a peak in Darien.

I said Bill, I believe this is killing me.

A sculptor sees the statue in the slab,

the shiv in the toothbrush. The stab.

I plump for Red October. Sink or swim

or wade or creep or fly or soak

it all in kerosene. Miguel Hernández,

tell me, if you know, why there's a darkness

on the edge of credit. My student loans?

Forget it. Burn it up. Let's go for broke.

Watch the shares go up in smoke. Nostalgia's

just another word that starts with

Seasons in the Abyss

Du Fu, you dufus, that's not

a goose. You're drunk.

Please allow me to introduce . . .

no, that's not your horse.

(No, nor woman neither.)

Into every life a little

Freud must fall. I'm a fraud.

I stole that pun. Like I said:

I'm afraid. Into every light

a little moth must blunder . . .

Cue power ballad.

I don't know what to call a spade.

The sky will lately swish stuff.

I open my barbaric yap.

Du Fu joins me on the veranda.

We are old and full of crap.

The millionaires across the way,

their homes are all ablaze.

We like it when those homes collapse

like moths before clichés.

BOOK: The Second Sex
8.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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