The Sunday Poem: Don McIver . . . The Day I Wore a Dress

The Day I Wore a Dress


(I almost want to start this poem by repeating the title,

but merely typing the above, I know that, now, I don't have to).

Language has a way of creating,

so here I am...trying to tell you I wore

light brown loafers,

                red knee high socks,

                                a brown rayon dress with white polka dots,

                                                a simple, yet elegant necklace,

                                                                a pair of light blue sun glasses,

                                                                                and a scarf.

Marilyn Monroe incognito.


(I'd like to begin to tell you about getting up on a stage

dressed like this,

but something else was happening).

Point A from point B

and I get there the only way I know how.

Biking was just something that I did,

                a way I interfaced with the world,

                                so I climbed on board

                                                and started pedaling.

All the cars at the first block let me go...

just another beard dressed up in drag.

Nothing new to see hear,

move along.

I merged on Lead and took my bike lane down the hill,

legs pumping like they do.

A few other cars stared me down and I felt watched.

A lot of cars on an early Sunday afternoon.

I sat in the lane,

                clearly marking my way,

                                lights flashing,

                                                legs pumping,

                                                                wobbling to my left so I took up space

                                                                                that clearly belonged to me,

                                                                                                just like I usually do

as the overpass reared up.

I felt sandwiched between a concrete embankment

and a row of moving cars.


(I'd like to point out that I'm typing this right now,

so don't worry about whether I make it or not.

You can assume, because I am writing,

that I created a way for me to not become another statistic,

another "accident"

in a city built for cars).

But the dress wasn't helping much.

I was trying to be visible,

when a big part in this town

                is trying not to be seen, but still trying to be visible.

If I make it downtown without them even knowing I was there,

I'm happy.


Being alone and isolated isn't a new feeling.

Being vulnerable and in peril isn't something that someone invites uncritically.

Yet, for a few minutes,

the sensation was far from pleasant

and I had a choice.

When we try and teach tolerance,

                we're trying to create a world

                                where out of the ordinary is basically the way it is.

A man can wear a dress;

                a woman a rough cut of blue jeans;

                                or even vice versa.

But when I stepped outside, outside of what people expect to see,

I felt more than shame,

I felt alone, vulnerable, as if at any moment I could be the subject of someone else's poem,

instead of the one creating it.

Don McIver

Don McIver is a Basic Human Needs Award winner, a former member of the ABQ slam team, a host/producer of KUNM’s Spoken Word Hour, the author of The Noisy Pen The Blank Page, and editor of A Bigger Boat: The Unlikely Success of the Albuquerque Poetry Slam Scene. He’s been published in numerous magazines and anthologies including The Harwood Anthology, Shine On You Crazy Diamond: Poems by Teens and their Mentors, Earthships: A New Mecca Poetry Anthology, Poems from the Big Muddy: NPS 2004, Looking Back to Place, How to....Multiple Perspectives on Creating a Garden, a Life, Relationships and Community, Fixed and Free Poetry Anthology, and 200 New Mexico Poems, performed around the country, produced, curated, and hosted poetry events big and small including the 2005 National Poetry Slam.

How many years have we waited for any media to publish poems? Most newspapers back in Mark Twain's time published a poem or two regularly even if it was the Edgar Guest variety. Now we have both the Duke City Fix (thanks to Jon Knudsen) and the New Mexico Mercury (thanks to V.B. Price and Don McIver) publishing a poem a week right here in our home area. Hey this is something to get excited about! Tell everybody you can. Link to this and to the NM Mercury poem. Let's turn a bigger audience on to what we're turned on to.  

NOTE: Today in Placitas hear Dorothy Alexander from Oklahoma, the energy behind the Woody Guthrie Poetry & Folk Festival, AND our friend Mitch Rayes, 3 PM at the Anasazi Fields Winery, call 867-3062 if you need directions.Free!

Poetry submissions are welcome. Email

Larry Goodell

Views: 255

Comment by Dee Cohen on November 3, 2013 at 6:37am

Good to shake things up a bit and feel the other side. The moral of this story? Maybe: Pedal a Mile in My Dress... Dee

Comment by larry goodell on November 3, 2013 at 6:59am

I remember the amazing Ned Sublette showing up in the bookstore where I worked in a muumuu (Hawaiian style dress that hangs from the shoulders) and for awhile Ned was seen about town wearing a muumuu dress. He was exploring (in his avant-garde mind) the definition of "male attire." Thanks Don for this poem . . . 

Comment by Margaret Randall on November 3, 2013 at 8:07am

Don, this is definitely one of your poems I like the best. It really got to me. The experience, and the poem, which is an experience in and of itself. Terrific chutzpah and vulnerability, all rolled into one beautiful and dangerous act.

Comment by Don McIver on November 3, 2013 at 6:32pm

Thanks for nice, thoughtful comments and publishing the poem.


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