When I Was a Lesbian
by Denise Duhamel

bullet Bio

I went out with a woman
more macho than any of my boyfriends.
Jo was into fisting, a rack
of ties in her closet
of wool suits, boxer shorts
under her black jeans.
If that didn't prove she was man enough,
she loved to tell of the time she'd stabbed someone
before she stopped shooting up.
Her one regret--crack wasn't around
before she went straight.
I thought I could relate--
I'd given up sugar
before Pepperidge Farm invented
those huge soft Nantuckets.
We both still craved something,
something other than each other.
I had to compete with Bunny,
her mistress who stripped
in a club in Times Square.
Nothing was the way I pictured my life
as a dyke--two soft women in granny skirts
holding hands. Where were the herbal teas,
the Holly Near concerts, the tarot card readings?
Jo rarely said anything nice to me.
When I broke it off, all she could pout:
"Please don't go. You have nice breasts."
Her woman's throat, deep with regret.
She threatened to come after me if I wrote
about any of this. So I've changed her name
to Jo from Sid. I won't say what city
she lives in. Sometimes I think I gave up
too fast, that Jo was wrong--I wasn't a scorned hetero
fed up with men. I was just a Ben
Franklin, my kite in the air
night after rainy night, then
sick in bed with a head cold
the one time lightning was meant to strike.

"When I Was a Lesbian" appears in Queen for a Day


Next Poem
The Redneck Review 2007