It’s like falling down a well sometimes.
You don’t hear the splash;
inside the water sound is different.
All you can think is to try not to thrash.
Thrashing confuses up with down,
and with already distorted sound,
how would you know you broke the surface?
Being gender different doesn’t mean you’re falling,
We don’t have to go down with the ship.
There are enough of us to huff and puff
and blow lifeboats up,
enough strong hands with worn weathered grips
and sexy vibrant painted fingernail tips,
to heave and hoe and stack our strength,
until we don’t even need to try to float.
Until we can fill in these motes,
and just fucking go to work
and be justified in our boredom,
like everyone else.
I could use some they/them,
some men and womxn,
to keep me afloat.
Every day I stood tall
Brick crumbled inside,
I mumbled and fumbled,
In the open I’d hide.
Of shame that grew,
Tried loving myself,
While hating those two.
I told myself daily,
It wasn’t their fault,
But whiskey still burns,
No matter the malt.
Rolling back shoulders,
Hills sliding with ease,
I couldn’t have known,
I had the right to be free.
What She Sees
Years of trying to make it feel right,
Squeezing and squishing,
My own body a fight.
A fight for a moment,
A glimpse in a mirror,
Slink to taste living,
Existence without fear.
She used to say, “I love you.”
I heard, “I love your mind.”
Imagined her looking into my heart,
Past this body I declined.
But now I can see it,
Glint-glimmer in her eye,
Perfect dimpled smile,
Intelligent and rye.
She sees who I am,
She holds my body up,
Soft hand on sutured skin,
A love one can’t corrupt.
Strength in her fingers,
The tips of mine in her hair,
She kneads at my scars,
No longer only mine to bear.
In the garden today,
I felt dirt in my hands.
Dug in muddy soil,
Shoes caked in sand.
Crunch of the shovel,
Shiver of leaves,
Just a shirt on my back,
Wearing soil, like sleeves.
Wind whipped and whirled,
Rain sprinkled in my ears,
But nothing held back my chest,
Or my joyful tears.
(This was created using the drains from Kaden's surgery and his old binders. Carefully cut to make something beautiful.)
Range of Motion
The love of my life, says I need to move.
To stretch the tissue under scars,
Unhook adhesions from their grooves.
But I think that she knows,
It's not just skin that’s stuck,
My whole life I have been,
Just shit outta luck.
I was taught first with kindness,
Then forcefully so,
That I don’t know my place,
Or have the right to grow.
They said I was born wrong,
And I learned that I was.
When puberty knocked with breasts,
Instead of height & peach fuzz.
Now I try to stretch,
extending my arms,
Raising my chest,
without raising alarms,
Now I pull my shoulders,
high up by my ears,
But stretching out the trauma,
Might take me a few years.
Trans in Tahoe
July 20, 2021
A man with his child cleans food from her mouth,
Tender fatherly movements dissipate doubt,
As you move to your table,
Shadows fall across kindness,
The monster has entered,
His child MUST be taught blindness.
Catching a glimpse, in a bar mirror,
A steer with a hump deserving of jeers.
Your nails have lengthened,
Your neck breaks your shirt,
Your toes are like talons covered in dirt,
Blood caked in your ears covers your eyes,
But truly the problem’s between your thighs.
You find seats for your wife, your children, your home,
The world still sees a monster,
Mouth brimming with foam.
Clunking and lumping you move through the streets,
Your body in motion for all to see,
You wriggle and harness and pull it up tight,
You look right when there is low light. Right?
The woman at the bar, smiles and invites,
But you realize, it's a lack of insight.
She says, “it's a good Irish name,
For a good Irish boy,”
But you know that for her,
you’re just a play toy.
You smile and bow reserving the brow,
Only for those with fists on the prowl.
For you this is life,
A bit shitty and steep,
But you think of your kids,
The heirs to this heap.
You straighten your shoulders,
Roll back your sleeves,
You teach them strength,
Fearing they’ll be bereaved.
You tell the man with his child,
Red faced with eyes wild,
You’ll pray that his maker,
Forgives hatred so vile.
(This poem was written at a particularly transphobic moment. Thank you to Jordan & Jade for reminding us that even when we can't get seated in a restuarant or walk down the street without feeling threatened, we can find family, honor and dignity if we're willing to say hi on a beach.)
Whipping and whirling they call out your name,
Scream what you didn’t, or are doing lame,
They yell and they wail, sound forming a vail,
You draw in your knees to block out their assail.
Your eyes have sunken, deep in your head,
You look at your hands & find they look dead,
You pet your sweet kitten, desperate, reaching out,
But you can’t sense your hands in a dungeon of doubt.
You scratch at the paint, picking off layers,
Exploring the boundaries at the expense of your nails.
Under their edges the cuticles gone,
How long have you been scraping?
The swill in the room drives your hands to keep picking,
Again try the lock even though it’s been sticking.
You bang on the walls and scream down below,
You open the blinds to find blank, white as snow.
Or were those your eyes?
The things that you opened?
Did you see what you saw?
Even bother? Try hope’n?
Is anyone in here?
You call to yourself.
You know it’s just us,
You, me and myself.
We look at each other,
A mirror in crisis,
We laugh and then cry,
Disturbed by the likeness.
Finding a way from the tower cell,
While horns are blaring, ringing the bell,
You stumble through hallways,
Banging into a wall,
You pull yourself up & try to stand tall.
There's just so little light,
Staircases that wind,
So little humor,
When you’re stuck in your mind.
Rattling clattering crashing inside,
The walls are expanding, shrinking, they rise,
Drowning in nothing yet failing to thrive,
Catching a breath before sinking while dry.
Yet there it is,
An island of peace,
A space in your soul,
Just out of reach…
You know that you’ll find it,
An ocean of calm,
A beach with the sun,
The scent of a palm.
But still you feel lost,
Even when you come back,
Your mind tower looms,
Despite rightness of tract.
You want to start breathing,
So you go with the flow,
But you know that you’re nothing,
if not your own foe.