I Guess By Now I Thought I’d Be Done With Shame

and "The Ocean Offers Femmes Some Unsolicited Advice"

I Guess By Now I Thought I’d Be Done With Shame

but I opened my coat to prove a point
and kept coming home with colds.
I thought I was done stuffing fists
in my mouth to mute the sound.
Done lying about what trails my throat
had charted. I practiced looking tall
men in the eye, spoke loudly,
pronounced every ‘R.’
I chopped wood at midnight.
I left the shower and kept
singing. I sang about my body
like I was proud. I was proud.
I was – My legs churned the poolwater.
I clamped silicone and didn’t cry.
Learned the names of oils. Asked
for another finger. I cried. Swore
to drown before saying sorry.
I sang about my death
like I was over it. Ground
my face into the soil, like I was ready
to shave it off. I stopped shaving.
Told a joke in the voice of a stupid
girl. I waved a flag of my own bones.
I threw my sordid liver at a man –
think fast – then acted surprised,
again, when he caught it in his teeth.
Not everyone who speaks this way
is lying. Somewhere,
there is a version of me that isn’t neck-
deep in her invented filth.
Somewhere a woman is walking
barefoot through the woods,
trailing white linen, walking without
a dog snapping at her heels.
Both of us are singing.
Both of us are bragging
in the past tense.
One of us is still here.
That much, I guess,
at least, is true.

The Ocean Offers Femmes Some Unsolicited Advice

Everyone’s a blue planet under the skin – it’s only

once you’ve sucked me in that it shows. Remember:

gravity still has a name here, just goes lighter on its feet. Corpses

don’t fall, but float. What you call wet,

I call room to breathe. Funny how what kills you is also what

you’ll crawl for, across sand, across a lap. What heavies

your pelvis, and: what shushes the ringing when you dip your skull

below. I know – it’s a heat run. It’s a bleached

reef, that whole waterlogged want-theater thing. When the salt

in your body races to meet its maker. That thirst,

eight-brained and eyeless. Poor animal, you. Spitting out

your horrid stomach in hopes of a bite. Sure, break

the surface; doesn’t mean you can swim. Animal

dear. Keep up. Remember: I’m the only woman who

can never drown. Under my skin, a thousand towers,

the thrum of space already-filled. If you want

that kind of touch, I’ll oblige. Take it all in, girl. Drink me

with your rooms, and I’ll raise your bloated frame back

up to that surface – toward that sun you claim you love.

i am no apsara

“i had flirted with so many tides already.”
Trans Issue 2015

[a foreign woman]

“in school a suburban blonde / searches my complexion for life ”