a painting of a river running through a mountainous valley. In the foreground there is a human skull, a crown, and some other artifacts. The image is overlaid with the following poem: We must own this grief we have inherited And wear the skulls of the queens that came before us as crowns Raise them high, honored, and remembered Raise them high as we must hold our own heads Raise them high- Raise Hell

We must own this grief we have inherited 

And wear the skulls of the queens that came before us as crowns

Raise them high, honored, and remembered 

Raise them high as we must hold our own heads

Raise them high- 

Raise Hell


I wrote this poem about a year ago.  I’m still pretty happy with it.  It’s a good segue, I think, from Pride Month into Wrath Month.  I thought it also deserved a painting, so I played with watercolor and pulled out some acrylics for the first time in a while. We can’t forget that trans women of color are the foundation of the movement, and we must honor them and the others who have fought and fallen in our community. And we can’t stop fighting.

To give credit where credit is due, the skulls as crowns line was inspired by Chrysanthemum Tran’s spoken word poem, “Vampires.” It’s heavy.


you ever wake up
too tired
too sleepy
too exhausted
to brush your teeth

but you do it anyway
out of fear
of what people might think

sorta like the straight people
that see gays and trans folks
being beat and say

 absolutely nothing

or a cold dreary day
where no rain or snow falls
and everyone calls that day


like those who ask

why do we hurt the ones whom we love 

while in the process of hurting them

death of the author

every time i try to write poetry, it sounds the same. 


procrastinating) fucking with my fingernails and that’s rust not dirt that’s 

from last night, i never minded needles but sometimes i 

still have to get drunk to make myself do the shot and then it 

bleeds bleeds bleeds 

like (not enough of) an exchange 


in every mousehole/trashcan/outhouse/pillbottle where i almost glimpse profundity it 

turns out to be another hidden mirror and jesus christ, 

i’ve seen enough of “my” own face i’ve seen 




my favorite scenes to write (genre:fantasy) were ones with daggers (“darksilver”) 

and jewels and mead and gossamer and sacrificial lambs and 

“holy” water and “green” moss and 

CISGENDER men and CISGENDER women i was always 

enchanted by the idea of eating one’s fill. 


all art is quite useless but it is so exhausting to think that 

the artist is as well.


after the coffee house

when I’m finished drinking
my double shots of espresso

with one pump of vanilla
and warm coconut milk


I’ll be tired of being alone
and I’ll come home to you

and you’ll still be waiting
because you know

that learning me means
knowing being alone is important

but it is also my own downfall
you’ll trust that I’ll catch myself


I might come home a little before you
and wait to see you smile at me

A Page From My Diary

He said he never liked poetry

Until he heard me speak

Until he saw me be


Said it make him think about thangz

Make him feel weird

Make him care about how he feels

Said the way I speak

The way I blend words

Remind him of his momma



Nothing anyone told me about being a girl felt right for me.

Who made the rules saying I had to be, like, and act a certain way anyway?


I was jealous of girls who had names that could be shortened to boy’s names, like Sam or Alex.

Wearing a name like that felt comfortable, like a flannel shirt in winter.


The only Barbie doll I ever owned ended up dismembered under my bed.

I don’t remember ever playing with her.


Wearing dresses felt like punishment.

Plus they made it hard to climb a tree.


My name is Lester Mayers, an old name that used to belong to my father whom was homophobic/erroneously informed and did the best he thought he could. I am not him. I look like him a little… BUT I am not him.

I welcome love on the varying scale of intimacy. I do enjoy, JOY and am not held to the ambiguous tales of religion. You see, I am not him.

I see wonderment in lovemaking and flowers and children and people and music and pain. This earth, for me, has been a phantasm of brilliance; so abundant and passionate that I cry when I do not expect.

My God, you are good! I am not him.

I have laughed until cramps, read my own poetry in my own way in Mississippi, Manchester and in Ireland. I wrote songs and poems under trees in the Finger Lakes and created flows in Brooklyn. I am blessed, yes, I am.

I’ve met people. Seen people and look through some. I do not hide well. My feelings show on my face. I think I should change but that quality has been mine all of my life. Sometimes I do not communicate well, so many emotions. I get angry. I get annoyed. I’ve met so many brilliant folks that I know God is real. I say all that to say… simply, very simply and Respectfully…

My name is Lester Mayers, an old name that used to belong to my father whom was homophobic/erroneously informed and did the best he thought he could. I am not him. I am not him at all. 

An excerpt from “100 Poems for 100 Voices”

Love Language

I want to cook for you 

When you need to eat

But only if

You’ll really eat it

I wanna rub ointment on your back

When you need tender love and care

But only if your tender enough to care

I need to write for you

But only when you need help seeing who you really are

Including seeing what possible

I mean when you can’t look at the outside

Angels of

Trigger Warning: rape and sexual assault

What no one sees— when rapists and killers walk away— are the boot marks dug into our flesh. Imprints that won’t fade. Manifesting a kaleidoscope of damages. Material. Spiritual. Bodies piling on bodies, as our bodies become foreign, disconnected, dangerous, to live in. As we make our worlds smaller, more manageable, more safe. The windows are shut, the doors are barred. What skies, and valleys, and rain on our skin do we fail to breath in?

We minimize the violence. We have to. If we don’t we go crazy. If we don’t we are crazy. When, and if, we have the chance to pull back the gauze from our eyes, we may not like what we see. When, and if, we let the wound leak freely, we cannot guarantee a blood match. 

My right hemisphere’s inflamed, my lungs full, my muscles locked in rigor mortis. I want to take my hardened flesh and slam against every wall. A battering ram to break the castle doors. Gills to carry me through moats ancient and murky. Ice in my fingertips, to freeze the soldiers’ barrels, poised with hot tar. 

This isn’t about vengeance. This is about rage. This isn’t about violence. This is about restoring the balance. This about screaming on the roof of the world for all the peoples/animals/lands, that ever were/are/will be— defiled by hands that hold all the cards. 

Brace yourselves. Fresh scars bear fresh ways of knowing. The next time you look down from your towers, certain they’ll hold, you may be surprised to see our wings.

long distance

She is the hot breath crackling

too close to the phone’s mic,

a phantom kiss on the ear.

I feel the sum of our love best right

here when she tells me about what

I’ve missed since I’ve been away.

She dances around the betrayal,

how she wishes I would’ve just

stayed so the wound of our lonely

could’ve been stitched by ten minutes

in a car and not two hours, fifty-two

dollars on the train. When I hear her

fall away into sleep I close my eyes

and pretend she is the pillow I lie on.

In the morning I wake to the sweet

whistle of her snore and I hang up,

make coffee and wish I could’ve

slept in, dreamt some more.