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(for Ziggy)

To fetishize our suffering: pornomiseria.

Each earthquake and wildfire, pornomiseria.

Wolf Blitzer pleads, “How many are dead?

How many more could die in Hurricane Pornomiseria?”

Andrea Dworkin thought God was the ultimate pornographer

as He watched each car crash—pornomiseria

as He watched each bomb drop that He could have stopped.

Incest, rough sex, gang bang, bukkake, pornomiseria,

i.e. pornhub videos you can watch online for free. I laugh

when someone falls down, guilty of pornomiseria.

You say something cruel, hoping I’ll cry. You watch me

struggling with the groceries—more pornomiseria

refusing to help. Am I afraid to ask, not wanting

to be rebuffed? Or are my aching arms proof of the pornomiseria

of a martyr? And what about confessional poems?

Are my sad narratives adding to the culture of pornomiseria?

I lament our rights stripped away, our country naked

in a dark room that smells of tired pussy and Febreze—pornomiseria.

My countrywomen, without even the dignity of boa or pasties.

My government throwing small bills our way—pornomiseria.

My government, a “gentleman’s club” full of brutish millionaires

making it rain, making it impossible to trust—pornomiseria

language or joy or a neighbor or the news. Ennui

creeps into each ratings sweep, each TV zombie—pornomiseria

as I search for a Netflix documentary sure to make me cry.


Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry is Scald (Pittsburgh, 2017). Blowout (Pittsburgh, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other titles include Ka-Ching! (Pittsburgh, 2009); Two and Two (Pittsburgh, 2005); Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (Pittsburgh, 2001); The Star-Spangled Banner (Southern Illinois University Press, 1999); and Kinky (Orhisis, 1997). She teaches creative writing at Florida International University.

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