Rhinoplasty and other crookedness (a poem)

texture 6

The thing is, 
I smashed my face
on the volleyball court.
Shitty double block,
ball down,
and a chicken wing
at Tuesday night coeds:
his elbow, and like I said,
my face–
I was bleeding
all over the place, but
Jolene’s a doctor,
you know,
I dunno what kind,
but that’s a lot 
of schooling so she
knew what she was
talking about
when she said, 
“It isn’t broken, hun.
Hey, who has a tampon?
Yeah, old
tampon in the nose trick,”
that’s what
Jolene said.
Stops the bleeding,
gets you back 
on the court.
“Just another sec, hun.”
Presses applicator,
inserts cotton wad
into my face
for another
hour and a half
of court time.
But then I
went home,
went to bed,
and woke up 
with a crooked nose.
“I don’t think you can get
two black eyes,”
my cousin said.
If it isn’t broken,
she meant.
And anyhow, it was
crooked, remember?
Plus my aunt was there
visiting from Arizona
and she said, “Yep,
yep, that’s broken.”
So I called Jolene
and told her.
She’s a doctor,
you know,
so much schooling.
She said her 
boyfriend’s friend 
is a plastic surgeon,
no problem, 
he can get me in,
and one day later,
I was at Gold Coast
Plastic Surgery
on a bench 
by the flowers
under an oil painting
of more flowers.
Deep rusts, and brown,
oranges and, 
you know,
I couldn’t smell
a thing,
but old people 
like art like that
and this was
an office for
old people.
Like fifty year olds
who want new noses
and bigger breasts
now that the rest
is all sagged, I guess.
Or scrunched.
I’d never thought of it
like that before:
who goes to the 
plastic surgeon?
But I was the only kid
with two black eyes,
so I think
everyone else must’ve
wanted to be there,
no?
And that made it sort of 
embarrassing:
Gold Coast.
Plastic Surgery.
“Yes, I would like to see
Dr. Moynihan,”
I said.
He’s a doctor, too,
and I’d never done
anesthesia
before,
but Jolene said,
“He’s one of the best
in the world,” and,
“He’s my boyfriend’s
friend,”
and even if Jolene and 
that boyfriend
were thinking of
seeing other people,
his opinion still mattered, so
I wore my motorcycle boots,
my hair napalm neon 
orange, or 
radioactive red, or 
high octane orange,
whatever bottle I was using
that month–
alliteration is sorta a thing,
you know or 
maybe you don’t,
in hair dye these days,
and I just 
walked in, erect,
like I do this every month:
chilling on the 
Gold Coast, you know. 
Just another 
one of the girls,
tanning on Tuesday 
tucking on Wednesday.
Or however it goes.
But even the boots,
Salander’s boots–
have you seen the movie?
Because I bought them
in black.
They didn’t feel 
so badass
as they normally did.
Which is why I took out
a book
and got to reading
on the bench.
Something on fashion
and ideology.
That’s sorta my thing,
in fact.
And it seemed like this
was a place to read
a book like that.
Or well,
the idea of it
made me laugh
anyhow.
Kenneth Turner, I think,
or no, it was 
Roland Barthes,
definitely
Roland Barthes.
Moynihan 
was a charmer,
but all I could think
was of Jolene
and the boyfriend
who wouldn’t settle down, or 
la verdad,
I dunno what it was 
that didn’t seem to work
between them
but I did know
I wanted
Moynihan to know
how cool Jolene is;
she got me that
appointment, 
right?
So I owed her 
something.
Like convincing her 
on-again-off-again’s
buddy
how cool she is.
“You say weird things
when you do
anesthesia,” 
they say.
But I just remember
emphasizing Jolene and her 
badass-ness,
like she was the coolest, chillest
chick on the planet
and that wasn’t so weird,
and then it was like
I was waking up or
something,
nose halfway fixed
new tampon with a string
plugged into my face.
Though this one was called
something else,
cotton …
nasal packing,
that was it.
(I just Googled
nose surgery cotton, 
and also, 
I learned it’s called
rhinoplasty–
like rhinoceros,
obviously.)
Another thing is, 
I had to be
at a fashion show,
with a runway and everything
in a couple of hours,
and I suddenly had this 
nasal packing problem
which let me drip snot
everywhere anyhow,
so I didn’t really 
see the point.
The point was
the grad students 
had a show
with a runway and everything,
and I needed my snotty ass 
there in two hours. This,
despite my incoherence–
Wait.
One 
key 
side 
note.
My nose was only 
half-fixed.
Did you see that
mentioned above?
I didn’t tell you,
because it seemed
inconsequential, but
if you smash your face,
I mean,
if you smash it
hard enough,
you know,
well then you fix 
half your nose
and let it harden
for an entire six 
months
before
you go back 
to Gold Coast Plastic Surgery,
and they break the 
other half for you,
reset it to
make it match
they say.
That or you deal with
a crooked nose,
but Moynihan said
insurance would pay for it all,
and I don’t really deal with
anything crooked
in life
in general.
I didn’t tell Moynihan 
this part, but
it’s been a problem
since I was little.
And that’s really why
I’m writing this now.
I mean,
I’m great on social justice
and gender relations
and racial equality 
and class, 
class is my thing,
like fashion and
ideology.
P.S. Semiology, too,
but 
here’s the thing:
when I was little
and the teachers 
told us we could
watch E.T.,
I used to ask
to organize the bookshelves.
“Ok, sure,”
they said,
but they never understood,
and I didn’t know how to say,
“Mrs. McEllson,
or Miller, 
or Mahoney or Jetzer,”
or even when it was
the choir substitute
Mr. Skippy
(we watched a lot
of E.T.
in the eighties,
so there are a lot
of teachers 
to name now),
I didn’t know
how to say,
“I get sick to my stomach,
yeah, 
tight and nauseous
in the face
of all that is gross”:
Kevin Rice’s mohawk
in second grade,
or the hyper-sexed
Prince poster 
on the wall
in my bedroom
in the yellow house
my parents rented
when I was eight.
Obviously, I took it down.
But having to touch it
made me even sicker.
E.T. was slimy,
not like worms
which are normal.
Additionally,
there were these twins
in third grade
who smelled like
their mom 
didn’t do the laundry.
My kindergarten teacher 
taught me germs are bad,
and every time I sat 
by the twins 
all those
three years later,
I cringed,
I held my breathe,
and then I went home 
to shower, 
to scour 
(I hate end rhymes, too),
to hide my clothes 
in the hamper.
I used to dream
I was going to die
of some stupid sickness
I caught in elementary,
but all I ever got
was a flu 
and lice and chicken pox
like every kid ever,
now a cold every
Mexican rainy season,
and a smashed face.
I got that, 
as you know.
That, and a desperate chance
to tell Jolene’s
on-again-off-again’s
buddy
how cool she is
that day
on the Gold Coast
before heading, 
snotty and nasal packed,
to the 2016 
SAIC 
MFA
runway
show.
I bet there’s a moral
here somewhere.
Or an irony.
Or a paradox.
But it feels pretty
straightforward
when laid out
as it is.
I’ll be here thinking,
straight-nosed, 
you know,
in too much 
perfume, probably.
Orange hair,
black boots, 
wondering when 
I’ll be old enough
to go back to
Gold Coast
Plastic Surgery,
unembarrassed
this time,
things thoroughly
thought out
this time,
aspiring to fit in
with the fifty year olds
this time.
Straight-up,
straight-forward,
straight- 
in all of those other ways I aspire to be.