I Wanted To Be A Smart Girl But I Didn’t Have What It Takes

Tony Lam Hoang
Tony Lam Hoang

i wanted to be a smart girl but didn’t have what it takes
to be a smart girl, didn’t know not to talk to boys
like we were friends. didn’t know boys didn’t want
to be friends. no no, this isn’t about sex. this is about

intellectual property, which is somehow never in reference
to my heart.

i get it,
my heart is fucking incompetent,
unintelligible.

the ideas i have are only as good as i am,

which means that they are noble and kind, but lack depth
right?

b said so, when he told me i was his intellectual companion.

it felt like a compliment then. love was just
a compliment then
and i wanted to be held the way my books are held,

which means not at all. and i got that.

b never touched me

and when i tell this story, i have to make that clear: he never
touched me, only looked, only with his camera.
said that
he wanted me to tell him about my underwear.

please, don’t misinterpret this.
this isn’t about sex. i’m relieved.

b was fucking other girls
and i was flying out of the country.
i was in another country

and he was asking me if i was still his good girl, you know,
good like a pop song. even then, i knew he would
never love me.

what does it matter what i knew when, i’m not a smart girl.
no smart girls don’t beg anyone for anything
don’t go hungry for no one.

you know i keep thinking about the night when
i wore my black dress, my hoop earrings. he hated me then.

and i should have told him that my father was dead,
that there wasn’t a man alive on earth who could stop me
or keep me.

besides, my father would never, it’s not his fault. i wouldn’t
give up being beautiful for anything. i wouldn’t ask the goddess
to take this away from me. it’s my fault. i’m not smart enough
to know when to quit,

which is a sign of weakness, of obsession.

i cried at the thought of us not being friends.
couldn’t imagine a universe without his insistence,
his slow-melting cruelty:

the things
i have done in the name of someone else.

that was four years ago. a smart girl would have predicted
change, would have had hope. i am not a smart girl.
sometimes i miss him. sometimes i think just,

stupid girl things. TC mark

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