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Weirdness Evaluation Engine: WEE reviews April 20, 2006 [online]:
Cancer by Eileen R Tabios.

Julie: I find myself definitely not wanting to know how nipples might curdle. I have a weird dislike of direct quotation in poetry. It always drags me out of the moment. Can't explain. Shouldn't try. I find myself flailing a bit for something to say about this poem.

Gabriel: How to tackle this? Well, the sexual politics are problematic to say the least, and the language brings this to a point of crisis frequently throughout the poem. Consider for example the subtext of “anxious thighs” (L 5), which suggests both expectation/longing and also fear.

The male sexuality in the poem is rapacious. The violence of the male gaze in the third strophe was particularly troubling, as well as the themes of domination, objectification, and rape that run through the poem. The male sexuality in the poem is literally murderous. Clearly destructive throughout, as seen by desire to “tear” the female mouth, and every interaction which involves the male identity, in lines 18-20 the rationale behind the title declares itself. L 20 “as if life-generating air still flowed, between our bodies” which is to say that life-generating air does not flow. The male identity pulls the speaker into the absence of air, ergo, murderous. The male sexuality in the poem wishes to possess sexually by domination and violence, and in the act of possession destroy the thing (let's not mistake the objectification here) possessed. [...]
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