Colette Arrand


I came into this world as a reject,
wallet full of condoms pocketed
without purpose. My generation
likes to compare notes on sex
education; I was Catholic
so this was it: songs about desires
as vague as desire, shapely
as a fertility statue in the mind
of a boy reading the word
“fertility” in that context
for the first time. I don’t
know how anybody
survives puberty, really,
how one looks into the well
of horniness without falling in
and drowning, drowning
but still suffering from thirst.
I don’t know how I did it,
one hand on my cock
while the other fumbled
with the clickwheel, orgasm
when I could picture
myself as a woman used
by the interchangeable frontmen
of the rap-metal bands on TRL.
Lord, if you’re listening, make
me a Suicide Girl. Lord, if not,
keep me from suicide. Keep me
until the next Limp Bizkit record
drops. Keep me until youth
is a thing I can’t remember,
until the bands I liked begin
using the phrase “reunion tour.”
Keep me from singing
this song at karaoke, from men
who age as the band ages,
pining for their decade
of angst like it’s the last
morsel of something sweet.


 I’m as queer as a three dollar bill, y’all;
imagine my surprise when I learn
that the bands introducing me to this language
are not, that the bodies they guess
it would be nice to be with are uncertain
in everything but their femininity.
Jonathan Davis wrote whole albums
about the boys who would call him faggot.
While I guess it would be nice of me
to sympathize, the boys who called
me a faggot meant it. I’ll never see
a dime for my longing though I’ve buried
it like a treasure, like a pile of coins
tainted by a curse, which is another word
for pain. In 1997, Limp Bizkit receives
MTV airplay for their cover of Faith.
Fred Durst signs a woman’s breasts,
but it’s the moments between he
and Davis that are framed with tenderness.
God, here I am, one of those queer kids
making straight cultural figures fuck
each other to justify my interest
in their work, but I guess it would be nice
if a gay man got to make something
that wasn’t later repackaged as irony.
I learn how the world works through MTV
News, that it is illegal to be a pop star
and have sex with men, that it is legal
for the police to entrap gay men
and out them as such, that the span
of a man’s life can be reduced to events
he’s meant to apologize for, though to whom
one apologizes to for their personhood
is unclear. I want it in writing,
what faggot means in a lyric where one
remembers being called a faggot.
I want to keep some words to myself.
I guess it would be nice if I could
touch your body, if I could remember
the shape of the bodies I wanted
to touch me. I guess it would be nice
if the words I’ve tried to reclaim
didn’t make me dissociate
during the sex I’ve wanted or had
that earned me them. I’d like to think
I know a good night when I have one
but it’s hard to document a blackout,
it’s hard to document lives that aren’t
worth three minutes on MTV. I want
your sex. I want your sex in ways
we will both remember. I want you
to quiet me. I want to have faith.

The Idea of Musical Taste As a Kind of Rebellion

What can I say about the years I spent listening
to this music beyond I’m sorry? Weekends I’d escape
the silence of my father’s house through headphones,
through speakers a friend bought selling the Ritalin
he never swallowed because he couldn’t think of himself
as the kind of person who read or did math, because he was
that kid who was fine with a job slicing meat at the deli
so long as it came with benefits and enough white noise
to keep him from thinking. Brian was ugly and so was I,
and while ugly boys can make something beautiful
with each other, he saw the word faggot as an arrow
that could penetrate him rather than a sling
with which he could throw rocks. I wanted to impress
him, wanted him impressed upon me. I convinced
myself that a song he liked by Mushroomhead was good
but can’t remember which one, like how my mom tells me
she used to listen to music with her friends in the basement
but can’t remember what her favorite song was, only
that it was about a pair of pink panties. It’s not hard
to find that song now, but a good Mushroomhead song
is something I can’t bullshit myself about. I listened
for Brian. I listened because my mom used to wear buttons
that said things like Lou Reed made me a fag, so my options
as far as rebellion went were limited. All I know is this:
somewhere in Los Angeles, a record executive discovers
the sound of my rebellion, its sludge of downtuned
guitars, lyrics by straight men about how other straight men
called them gay. Nü-metal took on the attire of dangerous living
with none of the risk. A mushroomhead looks like the head
of a circumcised cock -- how many of those sad boys howling
of their loneliness took one in their mouth? I listened
to this ugly noise trying to confirm my own ugliness, body
too paunched for my eyes to recognize as human, the music
a kind of armor I could wear to endure the day and all
the days after that. I’m sorry but I’m not sorry — white boy music
is incapable of rebellion. Picture an army of clones stretching
out to the horizon, all of them hating themselves. Picture yourself
among them, how alienated you feel in your football jersey
and New Era cap. If someone made a noise that quieted that loathing
you’d listen to it. I know because I did, because I spent years
without the love of men and found myself embraced regardless.

Colette Arrand is the author of Hold Me Gorilla Monsoon (OPO Books & Objects, 2017). She lives in Athens, Georgia, and is the Co-Editor of The Wanderer.