My smile hooks only my pleasure by Kristen Zimmer

When men tell me to
smile I give them a
simile, as if to say “my
teeth hurt,” which is to
say “it hurts to tell this
story,” which is to say
I’m aching 

like a book left by the
side of the road getting
soaked in the rain— this
story holds water with
tender pages, 

like an overripe fruit bruising
under the pressure of its own
weight, growing tired of
tasting sweet— some things
have a hard time surviving

When men tell me to smile I
wrap my lips with a sentence
pulled tight enough to choke
me but this is breathing: not
smiling for anyone’s pleasure
but my own. 


Copyright © Kristen Zimmer. Originally published in FEELS (Pleasure, 2019).


Kristen Zimmer is an English literature student at the University of Toronto. She has poetry and prose published in Feels Zine, The Vault, and The Varsity. She performed her poetry at the Tranzac Club and The Sophisticated Boom Boom. She was a speaker at the Sick Theories conference and With/out Pretend’s Unruly Bodies series. She studied Margaret Cavendish as a Jackman Scholar-in-Residence in 2018 and works as a digital humanities research assistant. She’s writing a book. Follow Kristen on Instagram & Twitter

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Feels seeks to create a safe place for people to express their most honest and raw emotions and, in turn, foster an open dialogue about some of the most sensitive feelings, striving to unlearn the the lessons that have taught us to only share our highlight reels. Feels believes that there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ feelings; the value of feelings comes from how we each relate to and experience them.