excerpt from: ejaculating beauty

: I am interested in the aesthetics of this self.

You rolled up your forehead when I offered up my thighs to you: all hairy and undone.

Beauty is retrieved through excessive tightness or hair gel or neck tie or high heels or sixty-five dollar hair cut or earring in right ear not left or both and the triangle tattooed on ankles or woman sign inked neck and wallet in back pocket and no wedding ring or rainbow rings against collarbone and collared shirt or stretched ears and pierced nose and lip or tattoo of a flag not American but roy g. biv homo and without these signs

how would we know ?

: I practiced being a girl.

Fell in love with boys whose voices were dropping and zippers were bulging and held hands with Daniels and Davids and Donnies and Damians and when kisses were requested, I let their tongues inside me because I was afraid of what it meant that I just wanted to say no

: When I was younger, I assumed I was born on a Friday. Assumed the F meant Friday because that somehow made more sense than female.

Then, on the summer of my fourteenth year of living, of this dedicated practice of girlhood, I began to bleed.

And I thought I wanted it. Thought I wanted puffed up breasts like flesh-colored peacock feathers or those bubbles that arise on pizza slices that I loved to pop with my teeth.

The moment I saw red, I cried
This is when the pushing began.

I tried to push my breasts away.
I tried to push the blood away.
I tried to gather as much hair as I could over my vagina to hide it because it suddenly looked beastly to me.

Monsterous. Misshapen.

: I am eighteen. I am nineteen.

There is a language for this part of me that could not be rubbed away, no matter how much I tried.
There was no need to get rid of this.
Confusion. Convulsions of gender. The slash. The or.

Why is it we think:

We. Must. Get. Rid. Of. This.

I learn a word that does not reach me until I am nineteen because we did not have a gay club in my high school or in my town of suburban New Jersey or television programs with openly out, secure and relatable gay characters.

Did I hear it in a scream? Pushed up against some kid against some wall between crashed fists?

Q U E E R.

Replacing tomboy. Substitution for the slash or maybe just another word for the slash.

Replacing length of hair or closet full of fashionable outcasts and inconsistent particles of cotton made in China.

Replacing my decision for what type of sex I liked. If I was a bottom or top and how is that even relevant?

Replacing the history of a word. Or trying to.
Reclaiming seems too political.
Instead, I patched this word onto a different pair of pants and suddenly everything looked new.

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