“The dress is an oil slick. The dress\ ruins everything. In a hotel room\ by the water. I put it on when\ he says, I want you to take it off.” (Jones 29)


These are the opening lines to Saeed Jones’ poem, Drag. Immediately as readers we are placed close to the author’s experience through his use of the first-person perspective. Just in these few first lines we see immense contrast. The image of a dress being an “oil slick” it a hotel near the “water”, is one of repulsion and separation. This accompanied with the contrasting “I” vs. “he” that is presented in these lines creates the image of things being pushed away from one another. This could serve to represent a multitude of ideas including that Jones himself could be somewhat repulsed by what he is experiencing, which further contrasts with the image of the dress, which is symbolic of beauty and desire, the opposite of repulsion. This relationship between desire and repulsion is one that I see throughout Jones’ poetry that we have read. The idea of desiring something but being simultaneously repulsed due to shame or trauma is one that I see in several of his poems.

This section is separated into Jones’ thoughts and words and the other man’s words. Since Jones is whose thoughts, we experience we are on his side, in his corner. This is another theme seen in Jones poetry where he will incorporate the words and actions of other entities to contrast with his own words and inner thoughts, I am specifically thinking of the poem “Prelude to a Bruise”. This brings up closer to Jones and creates an intimate poetry experience.