suggestion box feedback from lovers/boyfriends/partners on how to improve myself, that I never asked for, and I know who you are because I recognise your handwriting

By Paula Harris

Featured art: Untitled by Felicity Gunn

we don’t have anything in common

what if you grew your hair long?

what if we went running every morning at 6?

you could be nicer, you could be less judgmental

what if you got a degree?
yeah, you should definitely get a degree

we don’t have anything in common

you look better when you don’t weigh as much

can you talk a bit softer?

calm down

you’d be better with bigger breasts

do you have to be so weird?
couldn’t you be normal?
couldn’t you be less artistic?
couldn’t you be more artistic?
couldn’t you write about me less in your poems,
and by less I mean not at all?
couldn’t you get a proper job?

we don’t have anything in common

what if you pulled the sky down
and threw the ocean up?

what if you, personally, removed the second Star Wars trilogy
from the history of human existence,
thereby making us all better people.
maybe then you’d have a chance at being a better person?

what if you got the light to move to the moth,
the flowers to find the bees,
the rivers to change direction during the salmon run?

you should grow feathers and scales,
you should give up your nose for a beak,
your arms for wings,
your toes for talons

you should lose some weight off your legs,
you should elongate your neck,
your eyes should move around to the sides, a bit,
you should grow a tail,
you should become more aerodynamically efficient,
you should stop talking and hunt instead

you can keep your four-chambered heart


Paula Harris lives in Aotearoa/New Zealand, where she writes and sleeps in a lot, because that’s what depression makes you do. She won the 2018 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize and the 2017 Lilian Ida Smith Award. Her writing has been published in various journals, including Hobart, Berfrois, The Rialto, Barren, SWWIM, Diode, Glass, Aotearotica and The Spinoff. She is extremely fond of dark chocolate, shoes and hoarding fabric. website: http://www.paulaharris.co.nz | Twitter: @paulaoffkilter | Instagram: @paulaharris_poet | Facebook: @paulaharrispoet

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