Poem of the Week | June 27, 2022

This week’s Poem of the Week is “Minnie Mouse vs. Security” by M.K. Foster.

M.K. Foster’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Indiana Review; The Gettysburg Review; Crab Orchard; Kenyon Review; Crazyhorse; The Columbia Review; Best New Poets 2019; and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Maryland and a PhD in early modern natural history from the University of Alabama. She teaches writing at Birmingham-Southern College. Additional notes can be found through her website: marykatherinefoster.com


Minnie Mouse vs. Security

—my revenge narrative is not going as planned. Again.
Neither is my self-improvement montage. Whatever.
If my body isn’t vomiting these days, I’m choking on it.
And vice versa. I rinse my mouth. I wipe my eyes.
I clear my airways. I straighten my clothes. And all of this
while thinking how, in another dream, I’m a body
in the costume of another body trying to fight,
trying to kill back everything that wants me dead,
the way in a video online, Minnie Mouse yanks off
her yellow booties like hold my shoes and then proceeds
to beat the shit out of a guy with her bare little gloved hands,
slamming his head into asphalt like it’s her goddamn job.
And I’m thinking, at least one someone gets me. At least
somebody else knows the body for what it is:
a clumsy weapon wielded with four-fingered hands.
And I’m so scared. All the time. Of nothing—
does anyone else know how to live so visibly possessed
by so much invisible fire? Strike hard, strike true: the head
like a run-over peach or cat, the head of a mouse
flying off like a lost hat. That’s what you get for living
like your life depends on it — I didn’t mean that. I mean,
how can you stand it? Because I can. What I mean is,
I told you I ain’t no bitch. I would be afraid of me, too—


Author’s Note

In the beginning, the “clickbait” poems were my new favorite joke— a micro-series of pieces playing with lurid shock and grotesque spectacle in lyric terms, a holiday in absurdism to make myself laugh. “No rules!” I cheered as I scooped everything from weird DIY home remedies and celebrity gossip to bizarre medical nightmares and “Florida man” headlines into my notebook—but then came the COVID-19 pandemic. In a matter of days, all that was once a hilarious novelty to me became a mode of survival, and ridiculous sightings and viral web content, including sensational footage of Minnie Mouse in a street fight, transformed into a massive meditation on the hilarious dimensions of grief, the rage bound up in mourning, and the witnessing of the sublime as a species of elegy. The “clickbait” poems were still just as outlandishly funny to me, but their tiny chaotic frames suddenly became unaccountably sacred to me as spaces for processing the annihilating anxiety and inconsolable chaos that surged around and through us all. “No rules,” I’ve whispered to myself as I’ve written through this lawless season of our world, and the outcome has been a body of work so unhinged that has kept me bolted to myself and, therein, as alive as can be in an era of mass death.