Joanna Mayer Passive Aggression

The Midwest gets its hooks in you

like a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Built on the most complacent of virtues,

she tries to convince you

(like every mother does)

that she loves you.

And yet—

Fucking dykes!

calls a disembodied voice outside of a Culver’s

in rural Wisconsin.

We eat our lunch anyway.

I wait for you outside the restroom

rehearsing what I’ll call him

if he’s brave enough to show his face.

He isn’t.

Men are dumb,

I say as my finger finds the switch to lock

all the doors in the car.



is all you say.




There is something undeniably


about the malice in the Midwest.

Among the cornfields and the churches,

the coyote on the golf course

(soaked, starving)

doesn’t hold half the menace

of the full-sized confederate flag

flying proudly

on the back of the neighbor’s pickup.




We pay sixty dollars for two tickets

to a place said to be holy

by a white man who only writes about goddesses

who are fuckable.

The sprawling halls of the House on the Rock do not contain enough people

to fill the cars in the parking lot.

Exoticised parodies of my grandmother’s features line every other room.

(But not really her features,

of course. Orientalism has no use for second-generation immigrants,

forced assimilation,

internment camps.)

By the time we leave my stomach is roiling

like water dropped in oil.




That’s a long way away, says

your father our coworker the cashier

when we say we’re moving to Montana.

Here, leaving

is an act of violence.

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