Doritt Carroll

Things My Mother Taught Me

to start a car apply red lipstick first

when you drive by the country club in summer roll down the windows and yell
“napalm the bigots” at the golfers

if mommy takes you to the Viet Nam protests in your stroller
tell Daddy we were shopping all day

at 5 o’clock when the gin comes out little girls need to stop talking

when gray haired women dye their hair
the color that they get is “menopause red”

if some old lady takes too long backing out of her parking space she’s
“powdering her pussy”

if somebody notices the scar where your mother burned you with a cigarette
call it your flower power tattoo

when you’re 8, and the kids from the Catholic school
charge across the street to chalk “dirty Jew” on your house

when you get to a safe distance, spit

when the teacher makes you play Mary in the Christmas pageant
because she says you’re so “nice and dark,” do it

when you father asks “how was school today?”

in 1945 when you’re 13 and your parents pay for plastic surgery
because they think you look too Jewish to make a good marriage

bleed and bleed and bleed
later, when it heals and people stop you on the street

to ask if you’re the movie star Jennifer Jones tell them

fuck yeah
that’s who i am


Doritt Carroll is the author of GLTTL STP (Brickhouse Books, 2013) and of a chapbook: Sorry You Are Not An Instant Winner (Kattywompus, 2017). Her poems have appeared in Coal City Review, Poet Lore, Gargoyle, Nimrod, and Slipstream, among others. She has served as poet in residence at the Shakespeare Theater Company and runs the Zed’s reading series.