Denise Duhamel

June 24, 2016 Duhamel Denise



It is only playing Words With Friends

that I see what has been there all along—

why men are afraid of us

if we are more than one,

why we are afraid of each other.

I place my W above OMEN and score

a double word. True, there is such a thing

as a good omen, just as there is such a thing

as a good witch. But try to use both

omen and women in a sentence

and see if your prophesy is one

of blessing and fortune. Yes,

men have been in women all along,

each Y chromosome persistent even when we

change the spelling to womyn.

My “Friend” is a gender-free computer app

who makes me simultaneously less

and more alone. I am a singular woman, scrambled

and Scrabbled—ma now/wan om/ow, man.

Denise Duhamel’s most recent books of poetry are Second Story (Pittsburgh, 2021) and Scald (Pittsburgh, 2017). Blowout (Pittsburgh, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, she is a distinguished university professor at Florida International University in Miami.