Ava Hofmann





Originally from Oxford, Ohio, AVA HOFMANN is a writer currently living and working as an MFA student in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has poems published in or forthcoming from Black Warrior Review, Fence, Anomaly, Best American Experimental Writing 2020, The Fanzine, Datableed, Peachmag, Always Crashing, Foglifter, and Petrichor. Her poetry deals with trans/queer identity, Marxism, and the frustrated desire inherent to encounters with the archive.

Diana Hamilton

“Bernadette says ‘we are all so fluent
about ourselves’ and I for one am done

speaking my own language.” The master
of social work wants to know

if my girlfriend handled separation well
between 15 months and 5 years and I say no—

“No, thank you.” I thought Mayer’s “Wild
sauce” was this pretense to self

fluency, but now I know an actual Frank
Wild invented a fantasy meat sauce.

“To find out how I feel
I’d have to find out how I’ve felt.

I’ve been bored, drilled.” “Do you remember
your childhood sexuality?” A bisexual baby

with strawberry bob, holding her shit together
in her hands, “look,” seeking the lips

of others and shoveling too-happy cereal between
her own at mass. “I sucked the thumb

as well as anyone. That’s the source
of my adult independence.” I give her not

memories but advice: “When you’re on a roll
picking movies for a pre-

breakup marathon, having
moved already from Stanwyck to Dunye

because that gets you closer to gay
and farther from ‘we should

end this’ . . .” but she wants to
to know when I gained control

of my bladder. For her purposes
the year spent pissing the Pampers

has more to do with my comportment
toward love than Adult pissing does,

each UTI shortening
the length between first pain and first blood

until every sex act promises new infection
and its bruises—to release, I had to

bite my forearms with an equal distraction,
but I should turn not to this to understand

fear of pleasure, but to the scene of scratching
at a little clit, asking my mom why

it felt nice. That, too, bled. “I wouldn’t pick
a Brian De Palma next.” I wonder, I tell her,

if any analysts offer something other
than this always looking to childhood—

does anyone believe that what happens
to adults also happens to them

again, the way playing with one’s mom’s
hair repeats? “No one would disregard infancy,

no. But the drive theory . . .” “A letter
maybe? ‘I write to apply for the position

of distinguished ex.’ That’s wrong.
‘With eighteen years of experience

having sex, I am uniquely qualified’”—
“It’s interesting that you choose the language

of employment.” “Sorry, I forgot to mention
I was also unemployed as a child.” There is the special

childish laughter I want to make grow up. “I mean ‘x’
as in ‘I feel like people punish me for being

comfortable with distance.’” She says nothing.
“If I date again it will mean even more

self-saying: ‘Hi, I’m Diana—Oh, I’m a teacher. I grew up
in Indiana. My hobbies include saying

‘you are my new punisher’ or ‘you’ll get me
if I tell you three of the following twelve

stories.’” I make an exception
for dreams: I would tell about the roasted

chickens, kissing a cat who turns into a man.
“I made a birdhouse for my speech therapist

and asked her to be my other mom.” “I painted my boyfriend’s
eyelids before chemistry.” “I know—

you’ve told me. Is this about her
desire for kids?” “Actually I was a kid myself

between the ages of 15 months and 30 and
I didn’t like it, it turned me

off to the category.” Very Diana
very a language needs more

than one speaker to work l
mao very I grew up but

before growing I was depressed
to learn I was getting my own

bedroom, my brother was moving
to the parents’ room and the parents

to the room of crickets on cement
soon to be displaced by carpet

so there would not be a body
to hold when the bugs of the mind came

before dreams—I objected then, but I now see visions
too need the room to themselves.


DIANA HAMILTON is the author of three books: God Was Right, The Awful Truth, and Okay, Okay. She writes poetry, fiction, and criticism about style, crying, shit, dreams, fainting, and writing.