November 14, 2020

An Olivia Gatwood Poem for all the Women who have “Resting Bitch Face”—& Own It.

If you’re a poet, a woman who has ever been told to “smile, honey,” or someone who isn’t smiling all the time, you’ll love this piece by the poet I admire most—Olivia Gatwood.

Enjoy a portion of the poem, Ode to My Bitch Face, below:

You pink armor lipstick, rebel steel cheek, slit mouth, head to the ground, mean girl.

You had ‘phones in but no music.

You house key turned blade,
you quick step between street lights,
strainer of pricks and chest beaters,
laughter is a foreign language to your dry ice tongue. 

Resting bitch face, they call you,
but there is nothing restful about you, no.

Lips like a flat-lined heartbeat,
panic at the sight of you,
scream for their mothers,
throat full of bees,
head spun 360 exorcist bitch. 

Just trying to buy a soda.
Just trying to do your laundry.
Just trying to dance at the party,
and then someone asks you to smile and the blood begins to riot.

Smile and you chisel away at your own jaw.
Smile and you unleash the swarm into the mouth of a man who wants to swallow you whole.

One theory is that you are born like this, but I don’t believe it.

Another theory is that you put it on every morning.

Screw it tight like a jar of jelly, but I don’t believe that either.
You woke up like this and have been for years.
How can you sleep pretty when there are four locks on the door and the fire escape feels like break-in bait.
They will tell you home is safe zone. 

No, bitch face is safe zone.

Bitch face is home.

Bitch face is cutting off the ladder,
willing to burn in the apartment if it means he can’t get in.

Watch Gatwood read the poem in it’s entirety here:

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