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solidarity work :: imperfection

By Oliver Baez Bendorf


The new perfection is imperfection.
I’m striving for it in all things great and small.
Stray from the recipe. Hit send. Risk it.
Leave the art a little crooked on the wall.
All day long I’m rubbing “Good Enough”
into my absorbent skin. Squeezing
out a dollop to share with friends.
The art is still good. The meal, still good.
Trying to go soft on myself. Leave
the mess. Celebrate.


Who gets to risk imperfection
safely in this country, this life?
My black friends don’t get to mess
up in public like I do. I know this.
I’m over here practicing imperfection
while black Americans get killed
for imagined imperfections,
and so many others, afraid
to say the wrong thing,
stay quiet. It’s okay
to make mistakes.
Start somewhere.
Just start.

Added: Friday, August 12, 2016  /  Used with permission.
Oliver Baez Bendorf
Photo by Felicity Thompson.

Oliver Baez Bendorf is a queer and trans poet, cartoonist, librarian, and teaching artist. His book of poems, The Spectral Wilderness, won the Stan & Tom Wick Poetry Prize and was named a “Spectacular Book of 2015” by Split This Rock, and his poetry, comics, and poetry-comics have been published in The Adirondack Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Feminist Wire, Indiana Review, The Rumpus, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, and elsewhere. He has recently taught workshops at Mount Holyoke College, 826DC, the Queens Center for Gay Seniors, and the Allied Media Conference in Detroit. He lives in Washington, D.C., where he cofounded the Mount Pleasant Poetry Project.

Other poems by this author