Poetry: Selections from Amara Tiebout

Soft as a Tampon

Fan·ta·sy /noun/ the faculty or activity of imagining things, 
especially things that are impossible or improbable.

My someday partner sprawls on the sectional 
of my ribs, blanketed in rescue animals, hair 
buzzed short because masc butches  
swoon me like butterfly wings.
On Saturdays, they wash the week 
clean with a bubble-bath spliff, ginger 
turmeric tea, and British women waxing 
lyrical about true crimes. They will have the gender 
range of Prince, part tender, part menswear.
Enough sex positivity to make up for every 90s 
movie that cringed me into adolescence. 

Re·al·i·ty /noun/ the world or the state of things as they actually
exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.

We have one rickety pitbull, separate 
bedrooms because we snore, and my partner 
is a straight cisgender man who makes doves 
cry. My brain stutters when he sympathizes 
with the male perspective – his perspective. Must be
reminded that he is soft as the day he pulled a tampon
from his cabinet as if it were the most normal fare for single 
men, his smile curving into “what? It’s like having Band-

We all bleed.” Anxiety shreds the inside 
of my cheek when he asks questions
or thinks critically about 
an alleged abuser. 

Am·I·still·gay? /haunts/ the pink silence of my throat. What if I 
want to bind our names in paper, in ink and law, and grocery list?

Then he sways to the kettle’s whistle 
and I choose him again for the fifth time 
that day. Choose him through three years 
of distance. Through a garden of receipts 
and ticket stubs turned love notes. He carried 
the pages of my insides to every terminal. Every bus 
route we courted an ode to us. Invited me to Atlantic 
City on our fourth date, where I met his mom and discovered 
how he forged himself. Shed his name, stitched a new one,
learned to whip the perfect frittata. We ate crab legs 
with $50 I won at the Walking Dead slot machine 
and danced slow-motion on a boardwalk, practicing 
patience and humming kisses like butterfly wings.

Regret Tastes Like Ranch and Bad Sex

Slide his newly divorced dick 
in my mouth, next to a starched 
dresser and a hotel painting to match 
the desert beige of his bedroom. 
My fuchsia lipstick the only sign of life 
on the tour of his big empty house.
Serves me carrot sticks and Ranch,
a snack to foreshadow the mediocrity 
to come. A brief transaction. 
His cedar-washed hair and tortoiseshell 
glasses are freshly minted LL Bean. 
Puts more effort into slurping 
up the dip than eating me 
out. Weigh what he’d do if I slip 
on my dress made of water
lilies and flee, but I don’t
think I can 
be that brave. 
The scent of nonchalance and imitation 
campfire coil off him, the not trying too hard 
but just enough to convince me. 
His cheekbones marble when I can’t 
stand any more of his monochrome 
inside me. No greasy second date blowjob 
after two bites of stale conversation. Before he unzips 
an objection, I braid my lips around his throbbing, 
ineffable insecurity, because well, I still want him
to freaking like me. 

When I leave his house, I compliment the cubes
of cheese and salad dressing he took the time
to prepare. Don’t praise his clean-shaven
cock. Maybe I should. He says his ex-
wife kept their dog because he’s allergic. 
His indifferent down vest, puffy with stolen 
feathers, tells me the truth—he doesn’t find 
value in another life unless it keeps him warm. 

I see him once 
more after that night. A brief 
interaction. Sepia-tone meets technicolor: 
rumpled khakis and a worn salmon polo feast 
on lush fuchsia. I strut past in gingham pants and ruby 
red heels with the sovereignty of a rainforest between 
my legs, while he fades back to greyscale. 

Siren Song 

Mother ripped skin from her belly, filleted a future 
of degrees and writing awards, and gave the pieces 
to her children, each one born in her house, in her

bed, so we always knew what home felt like. She buried lovers under the salty Florida bedrock, 
knit her calves together, coaxed her bones into a new shape, and swam through sienna woods to divorce 

in Virginia. A tail of her own. Everything of hers, she made the hard way. Using scales and the softest parts of her, she fashioned us a childhood. We gulped

OJ from mugs that said wild women don’t get 
the blues. The same bumper sticker sat on a sea green
Chevy Lumina. Some mornings I fished for quarters and found gum wrappers, cafeteria cheeks hotter 

than the rectangle pizza and chocolate pouched milk 
I couldn’t afford. Those days, our thumbs hiked 
us to school and we missed the fieldtrip. I knew how

to get back home, how to be the straight A my mother never had a chance to be. I wrote essays in her lip liner, won debate championships in her heels.
Meanwhile she took aim on her next paycheck, 

eyeing the grotto of utility bills obscured by cobalt glass and the ocean’s finest testimony. Mama, 
all seafoam and sand. Her bitter grew worse 

when the days turned to ice. Christmas x four children layered atop the sky-raiding cost to heat our home. Adult eyes recognize the trap – drowning in vodka 
is cheaper than gas for the winter. At night before 

she went out, she paraded before me, a resplendent wine bottle silhouette. Leather boots like seaweed, size 8, mountains of coral red hair, her wealth 

in seashells, CDs, and children—Mom was the most exquisite woman I’d ever seen. The softest siren. She’d croon Bonnie Raitt in your ear, hand 
you a perfectly intact sand dollar, but come morning, 

she vanished.

Amara Tiebout (33-year-old freak) is a queer writer and editor hailing from Washington DC. She edits medical research during the day and scribbles poetry and fantasy novels in her spare time. She believes with her whole 160 lbs in social justice reform, sex positivity, healthcare and reproductive rights for all genders and bodies, and a good latte. Her work has been published by Gnashing Teeth and Lighthouse Weekly and nominated for Best of the Net 2022.