"I Will Consider My Catra"
“‘No Land’ is inspired by Wallace Stevens’s ‘The Emperor of Ice Cream.’ I was interested in poems that, as per Stevens, ‘resist the intelligence’ and yet convey something that coheres.”
“‘I Will Consider My Catra’ is inspired by Noelle Stevenson’s brilliant reimagining of She-Ra for Netflix. I watched this show with my daughter while my wife was in quarantine, and it has become our favorite show. For this poem, I am drawing direct inspiration (and a few lines) from Christopher Smart’s Jubilate Agno, specifically the famous section that begins, ‘For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.'”
Bring the swinger of axes,
with his leather face, his grit and grin,
the little girl would have a whack
would learn to split the seam
and see halves fall, practice the arc
that keeps the violence clean;
this is no land for the in-between.
Walk the trail to the splitting path
where the body lays not in this world
or the next, gray skin on green grass.
The better mother guides the girl
to where bright hymns cleave the past
from the bone, righteous machine;
this is no-land for the in-between.
Let the girl grow tall as chimneys,
give her boots that lace to the knee,
let her swing the axe and sing the hymns,
until the engine hums with clarity
and confusion falls, all husk and ruin
amid the shine of a brutal dream;
this is no-land for the in-between.
For I will consider my Catra.
For she is the anti-hero of the Netflix She-Ra.
For she is the alpha and omega of queer girl yearnings.
For mighty is her butch when she bestrides the princess prom in loose bowtie.
For righteous is her femme when her tail makes calligraphy of air.
For she rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having fallen through portal of rock bottom she is redeemed.
For this redemption she performs in ten degrees.
For first she was abandoned by the Sword Girl to which we can all relate.
For secondly the Sword Girl reveals herself a giant, with hair of burnished gold and shoes on point, which many would justly covet.
For thirdly she works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly she saves the Teleportation Bestie with bravery most endearing.
For fifthly she apologizes and means it.
For sixthly she gets a short haircut which smites the eyes of Queer girls with insatiable longing.
For seventhly she is the angel of unwanted daughters, and sharp is her whip of loathing.
For eighthly the way the name of the Sword Girl blooms in her mouth.
For ninthly their love, which is rightly construed as the romantic love between two women on a television show for children, a love which saves the only world.
For tenthly she promises the Sword Girl further quests for epilogue.
For having gotten this far we may as well continue.
For the original poem was very long as all poems were before Netflix distracted the poets.
For I have a stuffed animal of her, which is totally normal for grown-ups.
For deftly she fits between what breasts I have.
For closely she attends the systole and diastole.
For nimbly she was stitched by a trans hand for trans holding.
For how she counteracts the powers of darkness by her electrical skin and two-colored eyes.
For how she counteracts dysphoria, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in the morning I find her swallowed by blankets like a Catra burrito.
For my arms still reach for a newborn baby.
For there is no bottom to them, the tears, the tears.
For sometimes my breath becomes impossible until I hold her.
For trauma is a scratched record is a scratched record is a.
For tightly coiled is the little girl inside my chest.
For she needs a hero who gets it wrong many times and then many times again before getting it right.
For we all deserve the Sword Girl who will rescue us as the theme song plays.
For we ourselves must rescue the Sword Girl.
For if every trans girl is a cat girl but not every cat girl is a trans girl, something something.
For trans girls are made of estrogenical fire.
For estrogenical fire is the spiritual substance, which the Holy They sends from heaven to sustain the bodies of femme folx.
For you can tell cats are Queer from the warble of their yowling.
For soft are our bellies to the righteous hand.
For swift are our claws against the Devil.
For the Devil wears a red hat and doxes for lulz.
For the Devil tears our limbs from our perfect bodies.
For this is a poem about Catra, who was forty years too late.
For where have you been? Where have you been?
For now is the only time we have, as any cat could tell you.
For she sharpens sarcasm into a blade.
For she bakes self-loathing into a bread.
For devours herself into being.
For she can leap.