Annie_Oakley_1888
“Annie, get your gun…”
by A.B. Cooper

I don’t need an appendage to feel like I’m
one of the boys
as I sharpshoot
neat vodka in the bar
after ten:
Marion Ravenwood — trick drinking pride —
vulnerability masked as I hide
in plain sight.
Cos I’m
“one of the lads” —
worth knowing, you see?

Why do I want to keep up with you boys?
I’d rather turn
show-pony tricks
than be some bloke’s limp
toy.

“Come here Annie,
I’m packing for you…”

You place my
hand on your
crotch:
I’ll sharpshoot your c*** off
before I’ll drop.

Too crude?
Hard to stomach
from my feminine
shape?
Too aggressive —
be passive —
“You’re mine
to take.”

What if I make the move?
Are you happier then?
Or do I
not get to mark you
with such clear intent?

“When a man hits a target,
they call him a marksman.
When I hit a target,
They call it a trick.
Never did like that much.”

Oh Annie, such
progress.

PHOTO: Sharpshooter Annie Oakley, 1888.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The SAME NAME prompt was like an electrode to the brain — instant inspiration. The “A” of A.B. Cooper is for Annie. I have lost track of the amount of times “Annie get your gun” has been yelled drunkenly at me on nights out. Stuck to the wall above my desk is the quotation from Annie Oakley (in the poem). Annie’s words regarding the dismissal of her skills as “tricks” have felt all too familiar over the years and have highlighted to me the ways in which I have tried to shape myself to fit and be accepted (often in vain) in many male-dominated environments. The poem explores moments from my youth — my desire for acceptance with my male peers, how I went about it, and the ways in which sexual politics always blurred things. It’s intentionally rough in its form and tone — an expression of my unfocused frustration at gender preconceptions and expectations at that time. This has crystallised over the years and is a theme I explore in much of my writing. Hope you like the cheeky Indiana Jones reference. 😉

cooper

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A.B. Cooper has work published online and in print with Three Drops Press, Pankhearst’s Slim Volume series and Paper Swans Press, with whom she co-edited their Schooldays anthology. Her novella Lykke and the Nightbird — a dark, Swedish fairytale — will be published in 2016 with Three Drops Press. Working on her first novel — a ghost story for adults — she enjoys all things dark and delicious. Carpe Noctem.