BY JOSH RAAB
You are alone. You are not wearing any clothes. You touch the mole below your left breast. The left breast is a writer's worst cliché and your best characteristic. You think about how faceless you are. The way men have desecrated you. They've turned you into a poem so two dimensional that the wind cannot blow it. They have toiled to explain you. Your mole, moving from just below your ankle to the nape of your neck. The nape of the neck and the mole and the lips, all turned and twisted in flesh and in ink. The man's room, so small, his typewriter in need of oil, or ribbon, or whatever it is that typewriters need apart from your body.
Sometimes you feel the thoughts flowing through your belly button and up out your nose as you exhale. You feel someone writing about you, you feel yourself being wrong about yourself. You are mistaken about the placement of your own limbs. You are tired with yourself. You're tired of watching the color of your skin change from olive to porcelain. You're tired of that mole rubbing your skin dry and flaky as it is forced across your skin.
Sometimes, when you've got a new dress on, you wonder who paid for it, what did they want in return. What event were you meant to go to. They won’t let you look in the mirror unless it's to do make-up. They won’t let you breathe unless it's to sing. They won’t let you sing unless it's to praise or entertain. Sometimes you burst out in song and your parent's long table of friends laugh and clap and tell you you'll find a fine suitor with a voice like that. You feel each tendon picked through with rough fingers. Fingers rough from fields and soft from lotion.
You feel each strand of hair being plucked out one by one. You feel no pain, just the sharp prick of your hairs being taken away. Never in one direction, always in all directions. You can't tell if hair is being taken or added to your head, it all feels so wrong. And no one has ever placed the mole on your skull where it might look and feel best.
And your toes do not understand, your kneecap does not get it, your flank both flat and rolled are dumb and deaf, your teeth and their stains or their brilliance do not understand, your lips and your arms are stupid, your ears are commonplace and silent, listening. Your brain rages with electricity, but no one writes about it. Inside: your bravery, your valor, your anger, your quaint madness, your insecurity, your security, your condescension and your humility.
Your brain, that ugly, invisible blob. I would have nothing to say about it. No wisdom to impart about it, no poem to romanticize it, no song to serenade it, no conversation to coax it out. No, we've got nothing to say about your brain. The mole is in the middle of your cheek now, so delicate, soft, brown, and inspiring.
Josh Raab been published or featured in The Orlando Sentinel, The LA Times, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Louisville Review, The American Anthology of Poetry, and Thought Catalog. They worked short stints at Random House and The Overlook Press before leaving to Kickstart his experimental book publisher, theNewerYork. After some successes, the small press was sued by The New Yorker for trademark infringement and then became spiritually and financially bankrupted. They were born in Montreal, raised outside Orlando, went to high-school in Santa Barbara, and graduated from New York University with a degree in English and a minor in Philosophy. They live in Los Angeles with his fiancé. When they are not writing or playing piano, they work for The Industry Productions, a radical non-profit opera company.