Resources for my Skillshare class, Begin with the Body

1. Chelsea Hodson, "Pity the Animal"


I was sitting on the rooftop of my apartment building in May waiting for July’s fireworks. I was cleaning high-rise condos in Manhattan, teaching fourth grade in Queens, eating wheat bread and American cheese sandwiches that the government delivered to the school. I was writing everything down as if I knew what I was seeing. I was pretending to be a neutral observer, but I kept trying to override my heartbreak with poignancy. It was almost working.

2. Camonghne Felix, "Meat: A Reflection on Street Harassment"

3. Natalie Diaz, "Ode to the Beloved's Hips"


Bells are they—shaped on the eighth day—silvered

percussion in the morning—are the morning.

Swing switch sway. Hold the day away a little

longer, a little slower, a little easy.  Call to me—

I wanna rock, I-I wanna rock, I-I wanna rock

right now—so to them I come—struck-dumb

chime-blind, tolling with a throat full of Hosanna.

How many hours bowed against this Infinity of Blessed

Trinity? Communion of Pelvis, Sacrum, Femur.

My mouth—terrible angel, ever-lasting novena,

ecstatic devourer.


O, the places I have laid them, knelt and scooped

the amber—fast honey—from their openness—

Ah Muzen Cab’s hidden Temple of Tulúm—licked

smooth the sticky of her hip—heat-thrummed ossa

coxae. Lambent slave to ilium and ischium—I never tire

to shake this wild hive, split with thumb the sweet-

dripped comb—hot hexagonal hole—dark diamond—

to its nectar-dervished queen. Meanad tongue—

come-drunk hum-tranced honey-puller—for her hips,

I am—strummed-song and succubus.


They are the sign: hip. And the cosign: a great book—

the body’s Bible opened up to its Good News Gospel.

Alleluias, Ave Marías, madre mías, ay yay yays,

Ay Dios míos, and hip-hip-hooray.


Cult of Coccyx. Culto de cadera.

Oracle of Orgasm. Rorschach’s riddle:

What do I see? Hips:

Innominate bone. Wish bone. Orpheus bone.

Transubstantiation bone—hips of bread,

wine-whet thighs. Say the word and healed I shall be:

Bone butterfly. Bone wings. Bone Ferris wheel.

Bone basin bone throne bone lamp.

Apparition in the bone grotto—6th mystery—

slick rosary bead—Déme la gracia of a decade

in this garden of carmine flower. Exile me

to the enormous orchard of Alcinous—spiced fruit,

laden-tree—Imparadise me. Because, God,

I am guilty. I am sin-frenzied and full of teeth

for pear upon apple upon fig.


More than all that are your hips.

They are a city. They are Kingdom—

Troy, the hollowed horse, an army of desire—

thirty soldiers in the belly, two in the mouth.

Beloved, your hips are the war.


At night your legs, love, are boulevards

leading me beggared and hungry to your candy

house, your baroque mansion. Even when I am late

and the tables have been cleared,

in the kitchen of your hips, let me eat cake.


O, constellation of pelvic glide—every curve,

a luster, a star. More infinite still, your hips are

kosmic, are universe—galactic carousel of burning

comets and Big Big Bangs. Millennium Falcon,

let me be your Solo. O, hot planet, let me

circumambulate. O, spiral galaxy, I am coming

for your dark matter.


Along las calles de tus muslos I wander—

follow the parade of pulse like a drum line—

descend into your Plaza del Toros

hands throbbing Miura bulls, dark Isleros.

Your arched hips—ay, mi torera.

Down the long corridor, your wet walls

lead me like a traje de luces—all glitter, glowed.

I am the animal born to rush your rich red

muletas—each breath, each sigh, each groan,

a hooked horn of want. My mouth at your inner

thigh—here I must enter you—mi pobre

Manolete—press and part you like a wound—

make the crowd pounding in the grandstand

of your iliac crest rise up in you and cheer.

4. Mary Ruefle, "Pause"

Click here to read.

5. May-Lan Tan, "Legendary"

Excerpt from her short story collection, Things to Make & Break:

     He doesn’t really talk about them. At least, he never tells me anything I want to know, their hang-ups or what kind of pretty they are. He tells only half a story about each of them, and he tells it three times. Verbatim, as if he has it written on the cuff of his sleeve. Normally he doesn’t have two words to rub together, but when he does, something kind of flickers. These broken sparks and the three-times-telling makes his exes seem mythical, crystalline.

    When he tells me about Holly for the first time, we’re at the movies sitting too close to the screen. We’re watching the trailers and he’s tracing the shapes on the sensitive part of my wrist with his thumb. Every one of his exes has a thing—they’ve been molested or are a cellist or something. Holly shattered seventeen bones falling from a trapeze. She was wearing a cast and working in a library when he met her. Ten weeks later, when all the bones were knit, he finally saw her do her act. That’s when he dumped her. He doesn’t say, but I guess she must have looked too free and capable up there, swinging from the ropes. A girl like that could never honestly need you.

6. Scott McClanahan, "My Anger Problem"

Click here to read. 


7. Chelsea Hodson, "Second Row"

Click here to read (on page 137).