Bikini Kill Villanelle

Bikini Kill Villanelle
by Denise Duhamel

Whatever happened to those Riot Grrrl
fanzines?  Extra r’s slashed to “girl power,”
the growl softened by the mainstream Spice Girls.

On MTV, RuPaul dissed Milton Berle,
gender’s flight patterns ruled by a control tower.
Whatever happened to those Riot Grrrls—

Tobi Vail’s drums, Kathleen Hanna’s snarls?
I put batteries in dancing flowers
that boogied down with the mainstream Spice Girls. 

Kurt Cobain knew music’s future was girls,
punk woman, their pink fury and glower.
Whatever happened to those Riot Grrrls 

happened to us, too.  Revolution swirled
with sugar in blenders.  We devoured
the stuff, sweetened by the mainstream Spice Girls. 

Women do crunches, pushups and leg curls
so they’ll look good at cocktail hour.
Whatever happened to those Riot Grrrls
who kicked open the door for the Spice Girls?


Denise Duhamel’s most recent book of poetry Blowout (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other titles include Ka-Ching! (Pittsburgh, 2009), Two and Two (Pittsburgh, 2005), Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (Pittsburgh, 2001), The Star-Spangled Banner (winner of the Crab Orchard Award, SIU Press, 1999) and Kinky (Orchises Press, 1997). The recipient of fellowships from the Guggenhiem Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Duhamel is a professor at Florida International University in Miami.