National Anxiety

Sugar Magnolia Wilson Click to

WilsonSugar Magnolia Wilson is from a valley called Fern Flat in the Far North region of New Zealand. She completed her MA in creative writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, Wellington in 2012. She has had work published in New Zealand literary journals such as JAAM, Turbine, and Minarets.

The party is loud and seems to go on forever –
shoes stomp to the beat along gummy hardwood floors.

Late in the night, when bodies finally hang like deflated Lilos over couches,
you, in someone else’s room where the walls are only dirty white sheets,
have rough sex with the captain of the All Blacks.

He is much more aggressive than you’d imagined. His TV persona –
a giant jelly baby implanted with a sporting platitudes chip,
isn’t quite as sweet as

A short time after ripping off your black undies and going down, he
surfaces furiously to inform you that your Brazilian isn’t up to par.

You might want to rethink your strategy, work on your game, if you
know what he means. For the national good.


Nigel Brown - I AM Black Singlet, 2006 copyGlossary:
the All Blacks: New Zealand’s national rugby team
jelly baby: similar to a gummy bear

Image: “I AM Black Singlet” by Nigel Brown. Used by permission.



4 Responses to National Anxiety

  1. Annie says:

    This poem is surprising in the way that good poetry should be. I like how it begins with the general, easily imagined party scene, and then funnels into the speaker’s personal account. The progression from stanzas of two lines to three and then back to two mirrors this transition as well. My favorite thing about this poem is the tone, though: I don’t feel as if the speaker is trying to evoke empathy, yet the blunt sarcasm heightens its emotional intensity. The sharp diction and pithy tone coupled with the use of the second person makes it highly uncomfortable without much effort; the poem is simple but striking. It attacks the broader idea of public obsession with sports gods (brutes), but also brings me personally very close to the poem and one shocking, specific moment.

  2. Francesca Wilson says:

    I would never want to read this poem aloud. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable! Overall, I feel that this work absolutely illustrates a misogynistic tendency to believe that women must perform in a certain way to please their male sexual partners. At the end of the poem Sugar Magnolia Wilson uses the phrase “for the national good”. I think that with this phrasing she emphasizes the unhealthy vision of sexual expectation that arises from a culture of “hooking up”. Men have idealized visions of women, and in order to please their partners, women must act accordingly. Nevertheless, this poem searches for the meaning behind this crude cultural phenomenon.

    • Never Mind says:

      Francisca sweety, while men are all evil, this also portrays women as sluts, unfortunately.

  3. Never Mind says:

    This is amazing poetry and it continues to amaze me and will continue for the rest of my life.

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