Hello Kitty Goes to College / Sandra Faulkner

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Sandra L. Faulkner is an Associate Professor of Communication at Bowling Green State University. Her teaching and research interests include qualitative methodology, poetic inquiry, and the relationships between culture, ethnic/sexual identities, and sexual talk in close relationships. She has published research in journals such as Qualitative Health Research and Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and her book Poetry as Method: Reporting Research through Verse with Left Coast Press. Her poetry has appeared in Qualitative Inquiry, Women & Language, and Northwoods. She lives in NW Ohio with her partner, their warrior girl, and a rescue mutt.

When Hello Kitty Registers for the Working Cats Conference, Security Confiscates Her Catnip

She forgets the stems and buds
tucked in her red pleather briefcase,
late for the train, her presentation
on supply chains. The marketing staff
refused to accept her line of toothbrushes
with bright blue and black bristles.

Why would girls want to wash out
their mouths with colors like a fresh bruise?
What about hot-pant pink? HK skulked
out of the office, tossed a toothbrush
at the market and development room den,
a substitute for her silent screech and yowl.

On the train, she tracks the girls,
the up and down pistons of their mouths
crushing gum, how they clamor
over the sounds of wheel clack on track
with fresh pink vocal chords. At the hotel,
HK stalks past fair trade protestors

who monitor the meeting room, a guard grabs
a paw as she opens the partition,
crinkles the stash in her Ziploc.
He won’t look at her mouthlessness,
instead stares at her chest, searches for more.
She can’t find a pen to write a protest:

other conference goers get
their coffee, breath mints, and tobacco buzz.
As she slinks up to the podium,
she craves a familiar smell, something
to get her through. When she settles
on a stool, a colleague smiles and lights a cigar

the burning tip blazes like a dying star
across the projection screen. Her whiskers
feel sweaty with smoke and heat,
her hair bow curls away from her ear
as she scans the room, ready.