Home Poetry Breasts and other poems by Gina Mercer

Breasts and other poems by Gina Mercer

Breasts: so many words have been written about them by men. Here's a poem which celebrates and explores the matter of breasts from a woman's perspective. It's a strong, joyous poem - and it always makes an audience laugh (and think again).


is it ok
to write
about breasts
in this day and age
after all that men have
said and written and catalogued
on the subject or should i say object
of breasts i don’t know but i want to very
much because i feel wear carry them does that
make a difference Kate thought so when she
wrote that hers stared back as interested
as reporters i love that line the pert
reply to the bossy male gaze and
as i sit here with my breasts
blood-firm as any other
organ i want to
tell you about
the way it feels
to walk down my
garden with a sun-fresh
ripe paw-paw in hand and
a flesh-pushing breast in
the other and how i saw a woman
at a bus-stop (bust-stop) and how hers hung
at angles like the ears of a neglected dog
how i wanted to stroke them alert and make her
feel truly cherished as you do after a good breast
stroke and then there’s the CWA woman hers make a
sandstone rock shelf shelter shelf in the land of cliffs
and the slender beach woman with fairy sandcastle breasts
with pale moon-pink shells on top and that swimmer who
has jelly-mould firms peaked with pecans becca reads of fig
breasted dancing girls as her own figs figure dance girlish
under the poet-shirt-front and Diana’s wax and wane tender
full each month and remember the sumptuous sun-dried raisins
with plasticine tan at the Nice beach where the silicons bounce
light off fenders and the walrus woman with her sand-full
socks low-slung keeping her belly company in contrast
to the tight brace geometry bank-clerk bet she wears
her bra to bed have you can you imagine it can
you remember trainer bras on your soft-new
shy shapes or the tiny sacks of the blue-
haired breast-feeder we saw at the pub
that time big baby little breast or
the other way tiny baby fronts
huge ones with the milk just
down n out n leaking all over the place
and do you remember when we played that game of netball
in the change room you said I can squirt further than you and the milk hits
the other wall slides down through the laughing full cream breasts
bouncing laughing moving flicking off the world


Stirring the Porridge

curious as a morning toddler
i look up ‘porridge’ in the dictionary
stop at definition no. 2:

“to stir the porridge: to take one’s turn relatively late in a pack-rape, etc.,.”

breakfast table words
they stop my joy
brutal as glass in the bath

imagine the woman –

relatively late
with shots of semen
multiple doses of wild oats
roughly sown
with hate in the hands

boiling to
red porridge
as the pack keeps on scraping

i try to flense the words
but they keep on scraping

i want to create
right now

a world where
to stir the porridge
is only            ever
a charm
oats and clean water
the muscled hand of a woman
worn kitchen spoons
a steady old saucepan
and comfort on cold mornings


I turn on you, I burn you up

if it didn’t hurt, i’d pluck them
pluck my lips,
bare my vicious vengeful grin.
vagina dentata is an old fear
and yes, i claim it.

i want your foul old-man smell to be
the smell of fear,
old man smell my fury,
shut up for 20 years,
now it’s out ‒ it smells ferocious.
you were truly that cliché:
the worm in the bud.
you horned your old-man’s thumb into
soft and trusting              again and again.

i kept silent.
hate you became hate me.
i tap into that hate,
a tap of blood to wash you out,
i bleed on you, all over, gouts and clots of darkest blood,
thick to suffocate, you drown slowly slowly, you
can’t grasp a breath, it’s thick and sweet this blood,
like the caramels you tried to bribe,
it gags you, like me,
you are kept silent.

sweet silent blood, sweet as the names you
called me: your ray of sunshine.
now you are a piece of old paper
i am a ray of the sun, truly

I turn on you I burn you up.


Artists Statement

Time for all ‘nasty’ women to reclaim our bodies for ourselves, to redefine women’s bodies as life-giving sources of pleasure. Time for us to stand in defiance to the masculinist culture which defines our bodies as ‘nasty’, ‘impure’, ‘dangerous’ ‘sources of evil’. Time for us to revel in the curves and flows of women’s bodies in defiance of the culture of diets and the pervasive brutal norms which define women’s bodies as always imperfect.

SOURCEWritten by Gina Mercer, Hobart, Tasmania
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Gina Mercer enjoys a three-stranded career as a writer, teacher and editor. She has taught creative writing and literature in Australian universities and communities for nearly 30 years. She's published eight books (poetry, fiction and nonfiction) the latest being a poetry collection all about birds: Weaving Nests with Smoke and Stone [Walleah Press, 2015]. Her first novel, Parachute Silk, was published in 2001 by the feminist press, Spinifex Press. It explores women's friendships and sexuality. She has been a feminist and advocate for women's rights since 1977 when she joined a Rape Crisis service. Most of her creative writing teaching is aimed at releasing women's potential and voices.



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