So the exercise we did in class this week was to introduce a stereotype and then break it, either in a scene or in a poem. I had them first create a list of the qualities of a stereotyped person, and then write from there. The idea was to embrace some aspects of the stereotype and break others. I always do the exercises I assign my students, just to make sure they work. I had fun with this one!
This Church Lady
Gloria is, in fact, a good cook—
and she signs up regularly for after-service treats:
but what she brings is chili peppers
stuffed with goat cheese, and homemade salsa.
She slaps her son's hand
as he reaches for another chip, says in a whisper,
goddammit Harry, knock it off.
After she gets the kids off to school
(no home school for her, Jesus no)
she descends into her finished basement
in pink feathered flip-flops, black coffee in hand,
to work in her studio. She paints fruit
in erotic positions, life-size nudes of a gay friend
who models for her. Right now she is working
on a banjo—she paints it over and over,
its pregnant belly opened to a cave of sound,
it strings taut as stretch marks.
You can tell, just by looking at that banjo,
how much she hates that thing, how much she hated
being pregnant, how much she hates
the church choir with its uplifting gospel bluegrass
and her red-haired husband, in the back row,
strumming and singing, eyes closed, in perfect grace.