December 5, 2017

Diana Goetsch

IN AMERICA

“Why don’t you go to Japan and ask the cats?” I said
to the TSA agent when she asked if I was Amish,
because I believe in answering a non-sequitur

with a non-sequitur. I only said it
after I’d been cleared, after I’d been strip-searched
behind frosted glass, and then posted

the bitch’s face on Facebook along with her name.
Maybe being trans is like being Amish,
or maybe I went pale when I missed my flight

as Security Agent Pamela E. Starks
conferred with Explosives Expert Gary Pickering
to discuss, based on the “soft anomaly”

picked up by the body scanner, which of them
needs to search me (at one point she
suggested they each take “half”).

I suppose I could have come from Amish country,
a place so deep in the heart of America it can’t be seen,
and delivered to the airport by horse and buggy—

an Amish horse, oblivious to traffic. Maybe
it’s because of my long black dress, or makeup
that makes it look like I’m not wearing makeup—

a goal whose purpose used to elude me,
though I totally get it now, but please don’t ask.
You could go and ask the cats in Japan,

though it’s bound to earn you a contemptuous frown,
by which they mean to say, “Eat my ass
in Macy’s window.” How do cats in Japan

know about Macy’s? you must be asking.
Beats the hell outta me. They have
no tails—did you know?

Neither do the Amish. Just kidding.
I’m still waiting to hear about
the complaint I filed, the one that,

along with the viral video of them
repeatedly calling me “it,” shut down
the TSA website for three days

while they rewrote the rules about me.
“You could be charged for this,”
friends warn me, but in America

it can’t be libel if it’s true. I learned that
from the cats in Japan, who you can ask—
though it’s best not to disturb them.

from In America
2017 Rattle Chapbook Prize Selection

[download audio]

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Diana Goetsch: “I’m basically a love poet. I’ve started to understand that after all these years. No matter the subject, I think my mission has something to do with redemption. And I just go for the hardest thing to redeem.” (website)

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