queer poetry

retrace: a poem in 5 parts

 

i.

last night, in 2012, it was raining and you were outside, 

this morning, 11am 12pm 1pm morning, you sit at the window eyes diverted and try to remember 

when the weather would weather your skin and pierce to whatever 

sits beneath, when the rain would hit the muscle only anymore reachable 

by your testosterone needles, every friday, today friday, yesterday morning friday but 

last night always something else. 

Succession

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.

how to pretend to be straight for her, vol. 2

  1. You have a toothbrush in her bathroom. You have a toothbrush in her bathroom and a hairbrush in her drawer and her mom knows you don’t like rice so she always makes noodles instead when you’re over. You talk in the dark and her soft breath on your collarbone makes you want to cry. Don’t.
  2. She always falls asleep before the movie’s finished so you pause it before the climax. You let her sleep for 20 minutes before poking her in the ribs. She giggles awake and pushes you off the couch. Laugh, but don’t look. Seeing the wrinkles next to her eyes will make it too hard to sleep.
  3. She’s on your bed sighing every 45 seconds about algebra and you’re on your computer scrolling through the Wikipedia article for Henry VIII. She goes down the stairs without a word and comes back with two cups of chocolate milk, your favorite. Thank her, turn back around and close your eyes. Try as hard as you can to imagine not kissing her. Fail.
  4. You’re at a party where everyone from school is that she dragged you to. She spent the first hour and a half-glued to your side, but she got distracted and hasn’t come back to where you’re stitched into the apolstry of the couch playing a game on your phone. She eventually finds you and wordlessly pulls you away, a manic smile smeared across her lips. She yanks you into the woods where no one can hear you and you can’t see her. She tells you how she made out with a guy on the soccer team. He’s an idiot and everything you’ve both disliked for as long as you’ve been friends and she deserves better. She says it was amazing, describes it in voracious, intimate detail. Your ears ring and your eyes burn. Be glad she can’t see you. Look up at the stars all bleary-eyed, chest split wide open, and curse every god you can name for giving this girl to you. You deserved better, too.
  5. Forgive her.
  6. When she sits next to you at lunch, give her your applesauce. She always forgets how much she loves it and it will make her smile and kiss your cheek. Take that kiss and press it deep into your bloodied heart so you can pull it back out when the monsters come to play at night. They’ll tell you she’ll never love you. Show them the kiss and tell them she already does.

how to pretend to be straight for her, vol. 1

  1. Ask to borrow her lipstick. Imagine her lips beneath yours, all pink and bright sparks against your skin, willing and soft. Thank her. Know you will only ever get her mouth by stealing it quietly.
  2. When she sleeps over and borrows your shirt to sleep in, don’t think too hard about it. Don’t think about how she looks better in it than you do. Don’t think about how that turns you on instead of makes you jealous. Don’t think. You’re just a teenager. This is normal. This should feel normal. It won’t feel normal.
  3. She’ll leave her shirt from the day before crumpled in a heap next to your bed accidentally. You notice it when she’s brushing her teeth in the morning. Don’t tell her it’s there. When you hug her goodbye, think about her shirt next to your bed, hidden away like a secret you didn’t mean to make. Let go of her sparrow-wing shoulders quicker than you think is necessary. Take her false smile as penance.
  4. Use it as a pillowcase. Hurt yourself by breathing. Let your lungs coat with her flower-scented dryer sheets and hope. Breathe out. Throw the pillow across the room. Scream the hope out.
  5. When you hug her, hold your breath. Don’t bury your head in her hair. It will smell like the pillow you slept on for two weeks until it smelled more like you than her. Let go first. Breathe out. Smile.
  6. Go to a bar and smirk at the first guy who looks at your legs. Make out with him in the bathroom because his hips are thin and fit in your palms like you think hers would. You’ll have to crane your neck too much for it to feel right, but it will be good enough for now.
  7. Write I’m going to ruin you on every scrap of paper you can find. Throw them all away.
  8. She’ll tell you a story about how she kissed a girl when she was drunk. She’ll laugh the whole time, eyes bright. She describes it like kissing her own palm. Laugh and wish you could kiss her palm, too.
  9. Go to a bar and smirk at the first girl who looks at your legs. Make out with her in the bathroom because you want to get even, you want to make sure that you’re going to destroy this in the worst way possible. Hate yourself for loving it. Pull away and pretend like you’re not crying as you run to your car. Drive home faster than you should and hope you crash along the way. You won’t. Instead, you’ll fall asleep listening to the voicemail she left you three weeks ago about how her dog learned a new trick. Tears will fall in time with her laugh. Find new ways to fall in love with the way her mouth holds joy.
  10. The next time you see her, don’t tell her about the girl in the bathroom. Realize that her eyes are your least favorite color. Let that be enough. Find new ways to fall out of love with the way her eyes hold joy.