We did it! Now it's your turn

Salon's staff wrote poems celebrating our bodies and their flaws. We challenge you to do the same.

By Salon Staff
August 19, 2005 2:01AM (UTC)
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Don't let anybody tell you that journalists are jaded and cynical. We're just as capable of getting inspired as the next guy. And this week, as we admired Nike's "Big Butts and Thunder Thighs" ad campaign, which asks "What story does your body tell?" some of us were moved to answer, in free verse.

And we do mean "free." While some Salon editorial staffers hewed close to the free-associative style of the ads (with all due respect and apologies to Nike, of course), others composed sonnets, or haiku-y things, or wrote in prose with line breaks.


What we all did is write honestly about our bodies: banged-up and stretched, flabby and swollen. Some of us are marathoners; some of us are couch potatoes; some of us are wrinkled; some of us are just really short. But in the spirit of advertising's current infatuation with "real beauty," we all felt pretty good about letting it all hang out. It turns out that while we ain't beauties, we're all right.

Now we'd like to hear from you. Please tells us the story of your body, in the poetic style of your choice (please keep Homeric epics under 25 lines). Send submissions to bodypoems@salon.com and we'll choose our favorites and publish them soon, along with your name and where you live -- so if you don't want yours published, say so!

I'm five foot six
Shorter than
Most small children
I'm barred from roller coasters
And hassled when I try to watch
An R-rated movie without my mother
By God, I've done lunges and sit-ups
And I'd do pull-ups
If I could reach the bar
But everything comes up short.
Maybe Nike can make elevated sneakers?
Or there's this surgery
They do in China
In which a doctor breaks your shins
And slowly stretches apart
Your fusing bones.
It's said to be excruciating
But I'm so damn short
I think I'll have to
Just do it.
-- Farhad Manjoo


My little cloud
Of curly locks
Rains sweat.
My forehead and face emerging from a pool.
And this is my hair's settling of scores.
Because despite the baby shampoo,
The kind that
Will make no baby cry,
The curls are still parched.
And thirsty curls are not content.
And make me sweat.
And will not bounce.
And without bounce, it is not hair
But a wig.
-- Joe Charap

What's with this belly that
I never used to have?
This soft, poochy thing
That flops over the tops of my jeans.
Even crunches wouldn't help
here, I'm afraid,
Not that I'd do them if they would.
Oh well, I'm too old
for low-riders anyway.
Just do it.
-- Ruth Henrich

My feet
Hard to fit
Bunions and hammertoes
Two different sizes
You say you can fit me?
Just do it.
-- Katherine Branstetter


My pot belly
Is not huge and proud
Like a seasoned trucker's.
But it's mounted on a skinny frame
Below narrow shoulders
Upstairs from a tiny butt
With nowhere to hide
After a couple of dogs
And a couple of beers
I am that sorriest of combinations:
The skinny-fat man.
But me and my belly are friends
Even as we grow apart
We grow closer together.
-- Ira Boudway

My toes are fat
And I look at them sometimes
When I am on the couch
Watching television
With my feet up
Eating the chocolates with Macadamia nuts
My friends brought me from Hawaii.
Just do it.
-- Rebecca Traister


My boobs used to stand at attention
Perky scouts that heralded my arrival
When I entered the room
But Newton was right about gravity
And I've bred and fed two babies.
So considering how often anyone looks at my feet
What pair needs more help here?
Just Wonderbra it.
-- Mary Elizabeth Williams

My feet have run a marathon
A half-marathon
A handful of 10Ks now
My once-pretty feet are gnarled,
Dysfunctional with sharp pointy bunions
That hurt even when I walk
Just do it? I did it.
And I won't be doing it again.
-- Hillary Frey

My abdomen is stretch-marked,
And flabby like a bowl of Jell-O,
The result of two too many childbirths.
But though I can longer wear the bikinis
in which I once so proudly frolicked,
I wouldn't have it any other way.
No one but my hubby
has to see my tummy,
and he likes it just fine.
Just do it.
-- Michal Keeley


My right pinky finger,
Unbejeweled orphan of my hand,
Crooks uncertainly away and up
As I type instructions neat and bland
Helping Salon readers know whassup
At the bestest web site in the land.
All my pinky ever hits is "Shift"
And I think it's getting tired of that
What with soreness, stiffness, and a rift
'Twixt it and the missing wedding band.
So I stretch it and it creaks, complains,
Wants to be exciting, like a thumb.
Broken bones at least predict the rains;
Metatarsal, help out or go numb.
I don't hate my body -- it hates me!
Fix: replace my knuckle with my knee!
Just do it.
-- Sumana Harihareswara

My thighs are squishy
More liquid than solid
Jiggling with every step
After just a week away from squats
Why do I bother?
When I can't stay toned
Just do it, you say?
I tried, dammit.
-- Geraldine Sealey

My belly is protuberant
A preview
Of what I will look like pregnant
If I ever get pregnant
Which might have to be on my own
Because I am a crappy dater
And cannot seem to sustain a relationship.
Just do it.
-- Rebecca Traister

Salon Staff

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