Poem of the Week | February 10, 2009

This week we are proud to feature the poem “Katie Smoak” by Jillian Weise. It originally appeared in TMR 31:3 (2008). Jillian Weise is the author of The Amputee’s Guide to Sex (Soft Skull, 2007). She is an assistant professor at Clemson, and she traveled this winter to Tierra del Fuego on a creative writing Fulbright.

“Katie Smoak” came from a girl crush in high school. I wanted to find the moment her indifference cracked. [This and other poems] happened during a Year of Indefatigable Doubting when I felt stupid, uncertain, and disoriented. I was reading Jean Ruiz’s The Book of Good Love and Julio Cortazar’s We Love Glenda So Much. The first cued me in on quatrains and episodic poetry, the second on turning heartbreak into fabulism

Katie Smoak

Dearly beloved Katie Smoak, cheerleader at Hickory High, on-again-off-
again best friend. How did she smell like that? I saw Katie Smoak with the
roll-on bottle of essential oil though she refused to tell me which oil was
essential. “Get your own,” she said. I saw her roll it on her wrists, up her
arms, down her shirt. Katie Smoak bought hers from the head shop where
her boyfriend, a lanky guy named Beef Jones, bought his bongs. Katie
Smoak was rumored to screw the gym teacher in his Mazda Miata before
the bell for first period. That early in the morning? “Katie Smoak is always
raging for it,” they said. “What I wouldn’t give to do Katie Smoak.” “I’m
calling because I heard you were friends with Katie Smoak.” “I’d never
cheat on you with that whore Katie Smoak.” “Are you going to the party at
Katie Smoak’s?” “I might have cheated on you with that bitch Katie
Smoak.” She smelled like musk, vanilla, magnolia, cinnamon and none of
these. I tried a dozen oils and still never smelled like her. “I like to think,”
she said, “that one day Beef Jones will be walking his wife to the Victoria’s
Secret, getting something to spice up their defunct sex life, and he’ll smell a
woman who smells like me, and he’ll think of me, and remember with
deep sorrow and regret how I used to afford him the pleasure of sitting on
his face.” Katie Smoak was lovely.

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