“What Toast?”: Gender, Sexuality, and Language in the Poetry of M. Mack

Milquetoast has found his way into Tropics of Meta.

Tropics of Meta

grayscale milquetoast

Milquetoast, n.

a bland, timid, or ineffectual person easily dominated

from Caspar Milquetoast, character in H.T. Webster’s

The Timid Soul comic strip, 1924 to 1931

and later, Milquetoast the cockroach, purple crossdressing character in

Berkeley Breathed’s comic strips Bloom County and Outland, 1980 to 1995
And now, this.

What Toast?

When Milquetoast became a cockroach, he lost his mustache. He tried fulfilling this lack of apparent gender with a penchant for what he and many others understood as crossdressing, in a wig and an ugly green dress, but this became an occasional activity: the Christmas special, big fights or fancy dinners with Opus the penguin.

*

When Milquetoast was a man with a name given and not received, he longed for the silent middle syllable to assert itself in conversation. When given the opportunity, he pronounced it as the Spanish what or the English wuh? When folks called for Milktoast…

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