Jaimee Hills


I’m interested gender as it relates to anatomy, the set of presumptions one faces while owning a body. The act of writing seems a kind of dissection of such concepts. My work often invokes female characters’ voices that explore gender as a cultural and historical construct that must be poked at, toyed with, or torn down.



Albanian Virgin

I taped my breasts down; it was livable.
Once sworn to be a man, I bade farewell
to doll, babe, cupcake, cutie, butterfly,
and daughter, glittering necklaces, clitoris, labia,
rubies, nylons, silken dresses, lipstick,
everything that made me beautiful.
I’d be man-made. But my skin hurt, a lobster
red, a waste of tape. I stopped, soon baffled
that everyone, as if in a blindfold,
pretended my breasts disappeared, unlabeled
lumps under my suit jacket, more befitting
heavyset old men. I learned by heart
the lumbered movements of a man. I labored
over footsteps, feeling suddenly limbless,
hung upside down from the hard oak, limbered
my legs, my spine (for height), always barefoot,
my shoe-size rare. No one called my bluff.
No one. I puffed cigars, dispelled a labyrinth
of smoke, made women blush, but with no libido
for their soft shapes, I resented any lovebirds,
odd man out, and played the celibate bedfellow
of responsibility. Lifeless, breathful,
I spoke with a low voice, hoarse beefeater,
the son my parents never bottle-fed.
The house expenses (we’re rich as butterfat)
I managed well, the business, those elaborate
dinner parties, hosting guests on behalf
of my proud family. But the blood feuds
did me in, made my home a battlefield.
Could I cry? Should I be bulletproof?
Be and kill a man, is this liberating?





Jaimee Hills received her MA in poetry from the John Hopkins University Writing Seminars and her MFA in poetry from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her work has appeared in The Mississippi Review, Waccamaw, Best New Poets, Blackbird, and elsewhere. She currently lives and writes in Durham, NC.