Lesléa Newman’s Poetry

Lesléa New­man is bet­ter known as the author of Heather Has Two Mom­mies, but I first came across her writ­ing on the poet­ry shelves at Charis Books. That first col­lec­tion I found, Love Me Like You Mean It, is still my favorite book of poems. Sweet Dark Places is mar­velous, too. Ms. New­man also does size accep­tance work­shops, and in fact at least two of her books (Belin­da’s Bou­quet for chil­dren and Fat Chance for teens) deal with size accep­tance. Some of her poet­ry (and, I believe, some of her work­shops) for sur­vivors of sex­u­al abuse. She writes columns that run in many gay and les­bian peri­od­i­cals across the coun­try, and some of them have been reprint­ed in a hilar­i­ous book, Out of the Clos­et and Noth­ing to Wear.

Ode to My Hips

Look out boy
these hips are com­ing through!
These hip­s’ll knock you off your feet
if you don’t make room for them to move.
These hips sway
these hips sashay
these ain’t no size 3&#189 slim Brooke Shields
teenage boy hyp­o­crit­i­cal hips –
these hips are woman hips!
These hips are wide
these hips hypnotize
these hips fill a skirt
the way the wind fills a sail.
These hips have chutz­pah
they think they can change the whole world!
When I take these hips out
for a walk on the street
and the sun is shining
and my bones are gleaming
I place my hands on these two hips
and let them speak the truth. 

Love Me Like You Mean It

Love me like you mean it
like it was the very first time
that night last May
with your neigh­bor’s TV blar­ing downstairs
and your dog whim­per­ing and twitching
in her sleep
and you trem­bling so hard your bones
rat­tled against each other
and the bed squeak­ing on its four unsteady legs
I tell you it was like a reg­u­lar sym­pho­ny orchestra
in that small room
and I was mak­ing so much noise myself
it’s a won­der I heard any of it. 

Love me like you mean it
like it was the very last time
not the next to last time
or the time before that
but the this-is-it-never-again-
not-even-one-more-time time
because some day it will be
though we prob­a­bly won’t know it just then
since that’s the way these things usu­al­ly happen –
one of us will die
or go away
or decide she needs some­thing else
some­place else 

So love me like you mean it
like this is the only time
I’ll ever have to give myself
to you com­plete­ly open
tak­ing you in as far as you want to go
and then far­ther still
for only you can touch those places
deep inside me
where I wrote your name
a thou­sand years ago
in a lan­guage I had nev­er heard
before you came home
to speak it 

Love Me Like You Mean It, Copy­right © 1987, 1993, by Lesléa New­man, pub­lished by Clothes­pin Fever Press

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