“How it Feels When Men Attempt to Compliment Caitlin Clark” by Annie Grimes

Annie Grimes


“If this is the future of the WNBA,
I might just watch”
—some man on ESPN’s Instagram

Once at a local coffee shop
trying to pound some pages out
of a story I’d hoped would write itself,
I overheard a guy being so forthright
with his date that I nearly choked
on the iced mocha I choked down
to stay awake. It was evident
the two knew each other previously,
that to him the topics of conversation
came easily, and I tuned out the sound
of the barista yelling names
at the shop’s crowd to better eavesdrop
on the eagerness with which he spoke
the most unbelievable truths aloud:
You know about my Adderall addiction,
right? he asked, and the woman
laughed, and I noticed both her legs
bouncing beneath the top of the table.
I did molly once with this girl at a rave,
he raved, but I mostly just drink,
and I think, at that, the woman smiled.
Midway through a sentence the man
interrupted himself to admit
he hadn’t been staring at her tits,
but they were nice, and if I recall
this came across as polite in context.
You’re really cool and I don’t care what
anyone else says, was his concluding
message, and the pair left together
promptly after that. I shuffled in my seat,
decently hopped up on the mocha,
not one word typed and trying not
to hate the way the humor of the date
outweighed the weight its witnessing
left in my chest. ’Cause every woman
I know is home to this particular
brand of hurt: knowing a man who
realizes his capacity to care only after
he realizes he cares for her.

from Poets Respond
April 4, 2023


Annie Grimes: “I wrote this poem after seeing a bunch of TikToks showcasing Caitlin Clark’s standout performance in the NCAA tournament. Although I rarely watch sports—men’s or women’s—I know better than to peruse the comments of any social media post highlighting the accomplishments of female athletes. Despite this, I always click on the comments, and I always feel worse afterward. For some reason this feeling felt best conveyed in the context of a conversation I overheard at a local coffee shop a few months ago, the specifics of which I have been unable to shake since.” (web)

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