“Talking about feminism during my lunch break” and other poems

Accidental Purchase

Scented tampons:

We aren’t

supposed to use them.


But we are supposed

to use them, because

people aren’t supposed

to know. They’re supposed

to think: fresh roses, talcum powder.


Say hello! to less bleeding. Studied in women

18 to 45 years weighing up to 250 pounds,

an effective low-dose birth control regime.


My friend’s older sister—

the one who told us what

a blow job is, what “69” means—

loiters in the damp high-school

locker room. She reaches

into her shorts, looking for

blood, sees nothing,

hits her own abdomen,

hoping nothing can grow.


25 percent less estrogen than the other

leading brand! Proven to clear most

skin and improve your mood.


This one has iron

to replenish what you’ve lost.

We don’t get it

from the water here—

no copper taste

from the cup in the sink.


This one is a patch,

this one is a shot,

this one stays in you

with only a small chance of attaching

itself, clawlike, to the inside of your body.


Feeling guilty, naked in a pink

paper gown on a cold table:

just make a decision.


Illustration by Maggie Meshnick

Talking about feminism during my lunch break

Your roommate has hung

several articles of hand-washed

clothing I don’t know

the exact purposes of

from the shower door.


Impossibly thin crosses

of artificial fibers—calves to

heels to cold tips:

knee-high nylon socks,

the toes en point, drooping

from the weight of pooled



After washing my hands after

using the toilet, toothpaste

foam filling my mouth,


I edge by

on my way to the sink

careful not

to brush against anything.


During lunch,

over my Tupperwared salad

that has lost its taste

in the refrigerator, you

ask me how I feel about feminism.

What is there to say?


Organ Donor

Your knee rubbed against my wall

and like a carpet burn

gathered the blue

paint. it colored your skin,


reminded me of myself

as a child, not old enough

to carry a pocketknife,

rubbing a wooden popsicle stick against


hard brick, making its round point

sharp, not sharp enough,

sharper, until it was worn

down and my knuckles

scraped against the wall.


I warned you

and you still whittled

away, at the corners of me first:

fingertips, elbows, ankle bones.

I loved you

but you would have cored

me like an apple


you would have gulped

me like your last beer

and it would not have been




Jackie Sherbow lives in Queens and works in NYC as an editor for two genre-fiction magazines.

1 Comment
  1. very cool. i just had an IUD put in (or had a robot put in my putagyn–as my 6 year old is telling everyone)–the first poem resonated with me. i also really really liked “organ donor”–thanks!

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