Self-Portrait as Scout Leader

Rebecca Hazelton

In the menageriestrapped to my back,                            there are two of everything.If you need a fox, I have that,                            if you need a lion to eat that fox,             I have that, too.             I have on my personguides for survival             in the harshest of climates.                                            I can build a fire                                            from a dried carrot                                            and a turtle shell,             and with a flick from my trusty pocket knife,                            the edge of North America                                            peels up like a plush carpet.I keep mementos             of you on my person. I wear your gloves                            to better understand your hands.The necessities don't weigh me down. I am prepared.This voice that once called to you                            packs up light as twine.

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Rebecca Hazelton is the author of Fair CopyVow, and the chapbook Bad Star, and the coeditor of The Manifesto Project. Her poems have appeared in Boston ReviewPoetry, and The New Yorker. A two-time Pushcart Prize winner, she is an assistant professor of English at North Central College.

Madison, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin

“These poems are wise, sexy, well-tuned language machines, full of stinging humor and quick-witted swagger, interrogating the highs and lows of cohabitation and maturation. Simply put, Gloss is masterful—a knockout collection I will continue to read, teach, and learn from for years to come.”
— Marcus Wicker, author of Silencer

The poems of Rebecca Hazelton’s contemporary American fantasyland revel in the constructed realities of movie sets and marriage. Poems reveal the negotiations of power and performance behind closed doors, between the sheets, and in contracts and scripts. The collection’s three parts act out how we present ourselves through counterfeits, ornaments, and distorted self-portraits.

Keen, wry, and playful, Hazelton’s poems poke fun at the savagery buzzing underneath life’s slicked-back surfaces and crack the veneer on our most brightly jarring cultural constructions. She confronts our need to constantly adjust our masks to appease impossible standards—and our desperate fear of having our true selves be seen and understood.

Say hi to California for me. Say hi to lovely weather.
I hear your movie is a good one. Your movie is a winner.

Say good morning to the good girl beside you. Say hello
to good decisions. The bread and the toast it becomes.

The sweet unction of jam and the dull knife that spreads.

—excerpt from “Homewreckers” © Rebecca Hazelton. All rights reserved.

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