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Have you ever noticed how obsessed
the Victorians were with Queer Theory?
How unstable their identities were”
smeared with coal, satiated with tea?
Perhaps it was due to their inordinate fondness
for shifting back and forth from bloomers to breeches
until one forgets what lies beneath
and despairs of having a gender;
there was nothing for it
but to strip them off”
sweat soaked, vermin rich”
and sail across some metaphorical
yet strangely salty sea,
not to find terra firma,
but only a shape-shifting muddle
of Cornish mud huts, Tasmanian Irish devils,
where, despite the reassurance of having mastered Latin
at the supple end of an oaken cane,
one learns too late that English is
only an ill-made construct
soon to be stormed by Indian mutineers
and that the public-private binary
cannot hold out against
the grassy waves of skirt-clad Zulu warriors,
and even the Queen herself”
ivory breasts peeking out from her royal blue uniform”
turns out to be a terribly queer, tertium quid sort of thing.