Painted Bride Quarterly’s Slush Pile

Episode 88: Life on Screen, or “Podcats”

April 8, 2021


Courtesy of

Frida Khalo’s 1946 oil painting The Wounded Deer



Dear Slushies, on this episode we focus on the heart of literary editing and pose the age-old question: “What do you like when you like what you like?” We also break our own rules on this episode of The Slush Pile. Instead of flipping our thumbs at the end of each poem we’re scheduled to consider, we decide to discuss a group of poems by Shari Caplan as a suite. She submitted three poems about the female gaze, and we’re mesmerized by them. With Kathleen, Samantha, and Marion at the table, it’s an all-female crew discussing three of Kaplan’s poems, each one focusing on a powerful woman who worked in and with images: artist Frida Kahlo, psychoanalytic film theorist Laura Mulvey, and Lee Miller (check her out in “Lee Miller: In Hitler’s Bathtub.”) Listen in as we consider Kaplan’s ekphrastic project as she creates these experimental monologues. We’re flying by the seat of our collective pants, trying to muster what we know about Kahlo, Miller, and Mulvey, half recalling Maya Deren’s surrealist short film Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) and trying to accurately summarize Mulvey’s supremely influential essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” all the while recalling Dali’s three flying cats, and being serenaded by Sam’s cat Bowie while being observed by Marion’s cat Imia, who joined us at the editorial table. “Dear Pandemic Diary, Day 79, our animals want in on the editorial process. We want to call them ‘Podcats.’ Someone should intervene.”


With thanks to one of our sponsors,  Wilbur Records, who kindly introduced us to the artist is A.M.Mills whose song “Spaghetti with Lorraine” now opens our show. 




Author Bio

Shari Caplan is the siren behind "Advice from a Siren" (Dancing Girl Press). Her poems have swum into Gulf Coast, Nonbinary Review, Masque & Spectacle, Tinderbox, Deluge, and more. Caplan's work has earned her a scholarship to the Home School in Hudson, NY, a fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center, and nominations for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. You may encounter her as "Betty BOOM: America's Sweettart" giving intimate readings as part of the Poetry Society of New York's Poetry Brothel or ring-leading the Poetry Circus, an in-character immersive event she produces.





Instagram: @sharic88


Plus, Marion’s cat insists on a seat at the table.  





The Works

"Frida Kahlo (on Frida Kahlo) on the Female Gaze"


Comparison fragments the green-gold of my body. Nothing compares.


As a woman, I see a deer in an arrow forest with my face on and hear palpitating hooves across dry needles. As a deer, I see a woman poking her paint into my wound. What do you see, Diego?


You were called Auxochrome the one who captures (color). I Chromophore — the one who gives. Friendly reds, big blues, hands of leaves, noisy birds, fingers in. Flowers cackle at my ear. Can the female gaze grow fruit in a pick-axe climate?


As a woman, my fingers touch blood. You may have seen it undisguised in the bathroom. As a deer, my blood touches fingers and arrowheads. You might have mistaken it for paint. You may use it.


As a deer, I retain my eyebrows to express the paths of my nerves, which are yours. As a painting, I multiply into flowers and a mountain because my eyes blanket rivers and roots.


I don’t see a mountaintop. The mountain held in the veins of the sky.



"Lee Miller on The Female (Gaze)"


Don’t! melt until I’ve lit you.


Covered to the neck. A sheet to morph you, size the shine on your

 - don’t!




Now, topless


in the metal chair, like an uncorked bottle. Cross

at the elbows, look down at the ants.


Don’t –

           cavort until I’ve snapped. We’ll have some when he’s over. Come under. An object


could fall on top of you at any moment. It might be              a person.


Tar stretches like a bird’s foot. Maybe life’s a nude


            picnic, then the tar comes in with the tide and I’m dyed


blue, wearing a net. I can take my own

pictures, thank you. I can deal with some glare.


If you’re thinking,

 it’s not my place        to guess what. Maybe this      dead coral you’re posing with


puts your father in your head. Maybe a dead

pillow or a case packed. Hide it        


behind your face.



"Laura Mulvey on the (fe)Male Gaze"


A bear turned to a lounging place.


Instead of unspooling story

the fe/male leans in her lack

/light against the paradox

of phallocentrism.


Bear/er of the bloody

wound. Subject by being



To exit/exist, she must thwart

the male ailment, fuck Freud.


Virgin/Vixenhood fantasies.

Ropes hissing the bedframe.

All the men I know want to do it.







How does the bearskin rug become a bear again?

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