Song of Herself: A Poem -The Toast

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Song of Herself


Is it cool if I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
Like, just for a minute?
Even though what I assume I would, like, never ask you to assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you, or even probably better
because I don’t really know what I’m talking about.

I know it’s sort of lazy of me, and I’m super sorry, but
If it’s cool with you do you think I could observe this spear of summer grass,
Just for like a second?
My mom totally had issues, and so did her mom, and
her mom the same, so it’s no wonder that
I, now thirty-seven years old, still judge myself and question myself and need
so much approval sometimes to feel validated even though objectively I totally know I’m awesome and amazing and have, like, a great job and family and stuff but still, sometimes I just think about my own death and break into a cold sweat
Right there on the subway.
Oh my God, was that too morbid?
I’m sorry if I freaked you out!


My apartment is, like, full of perfumes, the shelves are
crowded with perfumes—like, I know I should either do birch box or ipsy, but they
have different enough stuff that I can’t imagine only getting one.
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it.
It’s Marc Jacobs.
No, not Daisy.
The original Marc Jacobs.
I’m sorry. I got distracted.

Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d
The earth much? Like, have you just ever stopped and thought how
Fucking huge the earth is and how small we are and how in
The scheme of things no one really even matters?

Ugh. Sorry. I know, I’m supposed to be talking all about
How awesome I am. Okay, okay, I can do this!

Have you practis’d so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Because let me tell you, my college boyfriend, man was he
Proud of how well he got the meaning of poems.
Like sometimes he’d be like, “The thing is, everyone loves
e.e. cummings, but few people truly understand him,”
And I’d roll my eyes and poke my carrot stick into my
Hummus platter and be like, “Is that so, Matt?”
He smoked a pipe and was reading Infinite Jest for like the
Entire time we dated and that was like eight months
and I don’t think he ever got past the first hundred pages.
He just liked to carry it around with him.
God, what a dick.

Oh right! I’m supposed to be talking about myself!
Song of Myself! Sorry! SORRY!


Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Sometimes it’s like Could you just fucking stop urging me for
One fucking second so I can figure out what I want
And not what you fucking want from me, world?

To elaborate is no avail, because
Who’s actually still reading at this point?
Who am I to think that people would want to hear what
I have to say? Like, I’m just one person, right?
We’re all just tiny specks in the universe trying to
Stay alive long enough to feel like we matter.

Are you going to finish those fries?


My child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
hands, and I thought to myself,
I seriously cannot deal with this right now.
I’m running on like three hours of sleep and we’re
Sitting in a fucking field with like a million bugs crawling all over me and
I just want to close my eyes for one second but then
Of course that will be the second you like step on a
wasp’s nest or something
Which will just be a whole other fucking thing to deal with. 

But obviously I didn’t say that, because I’m a good mom,
Despite the fact that sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like
If I hadn’t had kids, you know?

Anyway, I told her it was the beautiful uncut hair of graves,
Which, in retrospect, might have freaked her out?
Ugh. Shit…now I’m going to be thinking about that for the rest of the day.
It’s probably fine that I said that, right?
Like, she probably didn’t even process what I was saying.
And, like, there are a lot worse things I could do as a mom.

Wait what was I talking about? Oh, right…myself.
Okay, fuck it.
Let’s do this.


It is time to explain myself — just give me a second before I get up
because honestly this set-up I have on
my balcony is pretty sweet right now.
I’ve got my laptop and a coffee that I’ve been drinking for like three hours now
And I’m still in my pajamas and it’s 1 PM.
Seriously, I’m killing it.

What is known I strip away . . .
I launch all women forward with me into the Unknown—the men are
Not invited because they’re just going to fucking ruin everything with their bullshit
Saying shit like “The clock indicates the moment — but what does eternity
indicate?” as if they fucking have some genius answer to that question
And they’re just waiting for you to be like, “I don’t know; what does it indicate?”
And if you take the bait and ask they launch into
This eye-roll inducing lecture
Based on, like, one college philosophy class they took
And a Nova episode they saw last year.
“Oh, the universe actually isn’t infinite, Brad? You must be a
Fucking genius. Please sex me.”

I am a grown, thirty-seven year-old woman; get away from me with that shit.


Do I contradict myself?
Very well then, I contradict myself.
I’m sorry I’m not, like, some knowable
little box of a woman that you can just
Categorize and control and objectify
And I’ll just giggle and validate your
sad little self-loathing.
I’m a badass bitch. I’m a mother.
I’m a feminist who took her husband’s last name.
I live in Boston but don’t really like iced coffee.
I like being friends with guys but I don’t like straight whiskey.
I hate running but sometimes I actually like running but only around
The Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
I like having sex but sometimes I don’t.
I do comedy but sometimes I’m sad.
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)


You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
Which is fine because what I’ve finally realized is
This poem isn’t for you.
It’s for me.
Maybe that’s what Whitman was saying all along.
Then again, maybe he was an insufferable white male egomaniac
with a God-complex.

Failing to fetch me at first just let me go,
I’m not your prize to be won.
Missing me one place feel free to search another,
Just know that I walk fast and
I’m not stopping to wait for you.

About the Illustrator: Stephanie Monohan is an illustrator living in Brooklyn. She is drawn to the sea, the occult, and the occasional cute anime girl. You can see more of her work here and here.

Rachel Klein is a writer, comedian, and teacher who lives in Boston with her husband and two children. Her work has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency and Reductress, and she writes about life, art, and improvisation on her blog, The House That Del Built.

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