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From a mailing sent out by Eileen Myles in October 1992 as part of a presidential campaign in which she ran as an “openly female” write-in candidate. Myles is a poet and the author of nineteen books.

Dear Citizen,

We’re going to paint write in myles on the border. We were at the border last week — we paid the cholos three bucks to walk us on a large inner tube from the Juárez side to the U.S. side and back. The watching cholos asked, “Are they Yugoslavian or something?” I decided we were making a ritual, paying more than anyone for nothing that wasn’t already ours, a total freedom to leave and return to America, again and again as if anyone feels like it’s home.

When you step in the booth on Election Day, do a write-in vote. You’ll be alone in that booth and it’s so dirty, like a peephole or a dressing room or a confessional. But you’re really not so free — until, pen in hand, you pull the lever, you push the button, and then on the upper-left face of the voting booth you spread the metal wings above the title “President” and an empty white space appears, empty as poetry, and this is your freedom of speech.


Eileen Myles

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September 2020

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