Collapsible Mesh

I swing on the scratches–

red twigs splintering your back.


Two erasure poems

scar your chest.


You sweat glittery, uneven tattoos

mosh-pitting your thighs.


Your eyes, a car door slam

during traffic, hitchhiking off road.


When we kiss, I taste a dungeon

of scars–  handcuffed and bleeding


a baptismal cut-up.


Dear male-presenting human meditating on a wednesday when the sun was at its hottest in union square,

I wasn’t checking you out.

That is to say, I wasn’t looking to get inside your pants which were wide open, zipper down. I wasn’t interested in the way your body would feel pressed against mine. I had no interest in knowing how soft you could be. Or how…hard.

I had no interest in your mouth. Or your long hair whipping into mine. I didn’t care how many indents you had pressed into your abdominals. If your thighs were strong or weak, it did not matter.

I could not care about the color of your eyes or if they caught my stare.

I had no plans on learning whether or not you are a good kisser. Perhaps you have a tongue that can drip a thousand alphabets down my throat. I will never know.

What I could not stop noticing was the skin between your collarbone and bellybutton.

The human who sat beside me said, “I think that’s what your chest would like like.”

would look like…….

I couldn’t stop memorizing the ways in which your chest flattened and curved, shadowed by the sun. I was too far to calculate or memorize the drips of sweat from the heat, but I imagined they were there.

I curled my head downward toward my own chest. It was clothed in button-down shirt, tie, vest. It was flat until I touched it and then, the curve could be felt. The binder. The interruption of how I feel and what remains.

I watched you pray, Male-Presenting-Meditating-Human.

I watched you contemplate peace or life or maybe you were just napping with strict posture. Maybe you were wishing for a different chest……like I was.

Maybe you were wondering what it might be like to look the way you feel inside.

Guess it’s hard to know what you feel inside when all that is seen is your outside….

Guess it’s hard to show what I feel inside when the outside appears so different.




some body that i used to know

This has been the longest relationship I have ever been in. I can celebrate over three decades of this partnership; yet, I’m still trying to come to terms with what we actually have in common. In the morning in my nude, I am reminded by what I have. I am not haunted by all of it. In fact, there are some parts to my body that make me want to take it out to dinner and forego sleep in order to get to know it even better.

We’ve slept beside each other every night for over thirty years. We’ve been joined by another, though these were the times I lost track of its shift. You see, bodies never remain static. They shift in shape and desire. Sometimes, our bodies get loud enough in this displacement that alteration of clothes or vocabulary are not enough.

Initially, when we meet someone, there tends to be that immediate attraction that either let’s you know this is a possible friend or future love interest. Then, there are the ones we meet that remind us to keep walking. We cannot be expected to get along with everybody. When things don’t work out with someone you love, you break up. When things don’t work out with your body, it is far more difficult to walk away.

Recently, I was trying to explain my relationship with my body to my dad. He has seen me poke holes through various piercings, distract my skin in ink with tattoos, and alter my appearance with hair color and wardrobe. He wanted to know why I’ve been so afraid of the word, pretty. I stood beside him in silence trying to understand why he thought this and if he is right. Why might I be fearful of this simple word?

Beyond this adjective, I think about the parts of me that might attract such a word. Often, I am approached due to the boldness of my hair: knotty, red curls. My responses range from thank you to complete silence. Perhaps I shun this word because I prefer that my intellect and poems get approached, rather than the curvature in my hips or the flames in my hair.

As I officially slide into my mid-thirties, I recognize that I have been cheating on my body. I think of other bodies when we are together. At night, when it is just us in bed, if I am not too tired to be intimate with myself, I imagine my shape as something else. Not quite male, but not exactly female either. How to describe this?

Over five months ago, I started wearing a binder. There are many different versions to choose from, but the one I purchased is kind of like an extremely form-fitting tank top, that flattens my breasts and slurs away my curves. I’ve worn sports bras that have a similar effect, but I wanted something that completely smoothes them out. In addition, I have acquired a few more of various lengths and fittings.

My relationship with my breasts has been tumultuous like most love affairs. I desperately wanted them and then once they finally arrived, I eventually wanted nothing to do with them. Over the years, this detachment has grown more and more. Wearing this binder has been an experiment; I wanted to see if it would help the way I viewed my body. Now, I notice the way my button-down shirts, held captive by double-windsor tie and vest fit so smoothly over my paved chest.

Recently, a complete stranger called me handsome. When I was called this, I thought: perhaps this is how I am expected to feel when I am called pretty. Funny how letters pressed together have so much significance to us.

Here comes the possibly confusing part: I do not desire to be male and I do not view myself as transgender. If I must label, though I prefer not to, I see myself as gender non-conforming, genderqueer, and transgressing though consonants (M/F).  

When I was fifteen years old, I started treating my body like a tree. I began carving my way in and through my skin, searching for a way out. I soon learned this behavior was called cutting and I also learned I was not the only one. Many years went by and the wounds healed, replaced by scars. As I made my way through adolescence and into young adulthood, reactions from lovers and strangers ranged from looks of pity to obscenely rude accusations and questioning.

Summertime in New Jersey at nineteen. I am filling up my green car, scratched up just like me, and as I pay the guy, he says: Yo, what happened to your arms? Why they all marked up? At an open mic at twenty-seven. A young poet approaches me after exchanging no other words with me throughout the night, grabs my left forearm and says: These markings are so beautiful. Were they part of an art project or performance?

In the beginnings of these self-induced hieroglyphics, my mom suggested vitamin E and other scar-reducing creams. I got angry with her, though now understand that she just wanted to make it easier on me. Humans have a difficult time with scars. They immediately want to know how they got there and then they want to know if there is a chance more might arrive (depending upon circumstance).

I refused the cream because a large part of me wanted to be reminded of these markings and these years of sorrow inside my body. I am no longer a cutter, though have relapsed a few times in recent years. When I look down at my arms and the few ghostly markings on my hips, I think of these lines as words. What was I trying to tell myself? I want to believe that I was digging my way out and toward the innards of not only my gender but the core of my self.

How true is this body? What will it take to fall back in love with it? Have we ever been in love or has it been like an arranged marriage? Would I choose it if I could?

If we all came with our own airbrush machines that the fancy fashion photographers clearly use, I wonder what parts we’d compress away or enhance. Would I leave my scars alone? Would I flatten my breasts out permanently? Would I leave my dimples, otherwise known as skin deformities? How about dead-ends left on every strand of my hair due to forgotten haircuts? Would I want my thin lips to be fuller and my collarbone to be bonier and more dramatic?

We exist in these bodies that grow and shift in ways we accept and in ways that can be deeply confusing and even painful. Some things can be controlled. If that extra weight on your belly overwhelms you, then a few months at the local gym or daily sit-ups may flatten it away. If the skin on your face sags in a way that disturbs your ability to feel pretty, you may choose a face-lift. What isn’t big enough, you can now make bigger. What is not small enough, you can pay someone to take away entirely. No one can really say what isn’t necessary, because no one is inside anyone else’s body but their own.

It’s not that I want to break up with my body. We’ve been through so much that I feel like no one else could possibly understand me in the way that it does.

It survived that faint from the deeply traumatic panic attack at age twenty-seven that left me with several cracked teeth, a scratched up face and nine stitches. It survived mental illness and more suicide attempts than I could possibly keep track of. It survived drug addiction. Deep into the night, it has begged me to remain. My body has allowed me to orgasm even when shadows of sexual trauma have crept its way in. My body has given me more love affairs than one should be warranted in a lifetime. My body has remained even after all the walk-outs (my self included).

However, even after all these years, there are still times like now, where I feel like we are still getting to know each other. I no longer wear dresses or bras with a clasp in the back. I prefer much simpler attire. Sometimes I have to remind it that what I wore last year may no longer feel right against my skin. So, we must unhang, fold and give away what no longer matches how I/we feel inside. It is not too late.

I want to give myself time with this binder just as I gave myself decades in these scars. I’ve learned to come to terms with the discoloration of skin on my body: war wounds from the battle between my body and me. This disconnection I have with my breasts may not be flattened away with assortment  of binders. I may need to move forward and make a more permanent choice. My fear of telling others obviously ends here.

The need to speak out has been modeled to me each time I hear a poem or read a story that moved me enough to write or speak up. We all have these bodies that encapsulate all these stories. If we continue to speak up, more languages will form. More and more humans are realizing that they’ve been living in the wrong body and finding ways to rebirth themselves into their truest form. There is absolutely nothing more powerful than that.


(Thank you, Imogen Binnie for breaking my mind open with your transferring language, relocating my thoughts in so many directions with your incredible book: Nebraska. Other gender warriors: Ivan E. Coyote, Dhillon Khosla, Carter Dyer, Kate Bornstein, Tahrah, S Bear Bergman, Dylan Scholinski and the list continues)


oh body…

“Laugh and cry and tell stories. Sad stories about bodies stolen, bodies no longer here. Enraging stories about the false images, devastating lies, untold violence. Bold, brash stories about reclaiming our bodies and changing the world.”
― Eli ClareExile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation

We are full of elipses….these bodies go on and on and when we are lucky, we find an other. A semi-colon body. A body that pauses and ends at the same time. A body that introduces and independently speaks. A body that can be conjoined with another. A body that can climb its stories and shiver its way out from the compulsion to hide. These are the bodies that cause maps to change because we are introducing new constructions, new villages, brand new roads and bodies of waters. These bodies are salt stream lakes and sand dunes. These bodies are speaker boxes and musical accompaniments to the rage of (disrobed) silences. We reclaim each time we boldly exist.


the body is of foremost concern—whether it’s a woman’s body in wartime, the trans body, or the undocumented one. Perhaps our proximity to the border serves to remind us how the body under surveillance—the body whose legitimacy is constantly in question—must find simple acts of resistance to survive. Witnessing, creating, and retelling our histories keeps the body front and center…and makes space for new dreams for the future.       

—Denise Uyehara

There is no passport for this. We are already stamped without that rectangular book with our code(s) inside. What defines this body as legitimate. What reminds those looking through the cracks of our skin that this can be believed. When there is not enough movement, do the bones forget their aim; do they rot. This survival can be called Monday or diagnosis or gender non-comforming or muscularity of breaths. Resistance arrives when we have run out of vocabulary. So we read. So we echo the incantations of others who are outlasting these wars and painting out the torture of their endurance. As bodies, we can be spectators and we can be testifiers. Here is the moment we decide our deposition.

this may be the real thing.

“if i could be who you wanted/all the time…” –R H
I think I might have inhaled you/i can feel you behind my eyes –S
all along it was a feeling of fevers/ and this dizzy weaved circles of you/ even before and now  –A H
I can’t change/even if I tried/even if I wanted to  –M L
that I would be good /whether with or without you  –A M
how about this sleep that weeps through the feathers/ there are more doors and this floor has let loose its save   –A H

When is that moment where we decide to announce a feeling. So often we enter rooms full of humans of varying strengths and genders, inclinations and dents. How about we address the ones who cause our limbs to remember all the ways in which they can bend and speak.

I enter a room full of strangers. I was not invited, but brought along by a friend who was. I find a corner to lean into and spread my web of skin to cover me. I imagine myself as invisible, even with this hair and these poems on my skin. When I first notice this human, it is as though I am remembering my birth. It is as though I am taking my first breath, my ribs expand into a smile that only my flesh can feel. My eyes finally understand their parts: cornea, macula, iris, retina, optic nerve. I channel kundalini and hope that my exhales will be inhaled by them.

I let go of magic years ago, but in this moment I wonder what hides between us that can be turned into realism.

Label (noun):  small piece of paper, fabric, plastic/ sewn into garment/ instructions for care / classifying or clarifying phrase applied to a person or thing/ identifiable marker

I let go of these years ago. The only times I choose to label myself is to stick over the incorrect ones forced on me. My attractions to humans have wavered like Winter and can no longer be tracked or understood. It just is. I arrive at an attraction due to the words that speak out from their mouths rather than the shapes on their body that tell me what they are.

So this human stands beside me and cannot see the web I have threaded around me. I notice their lips, darker than mine. Not from lipstick but from the pigment of their family tree. Their chest is flat like I want mine to be. We speak about the competency of caffeine and efficacy of gender. Their hands are veiny like the most beautiful trees tangled by flexible branches. I want to ask them to use my dimples as a P.O. Box; to write letters and slip them in there. I want to tell them that I cannot be found on screens and much prefer paper. I want to hand them the stamps I keep in my notebook and extra pen and paper (not skin this time) and we can channel the decades when there were no outlets. I want to ask them to write me their morning. I want to ask them to sew me into their evening.

want to.

Instead, our knees remember each other even though this is the first time.

Instead, I eventually leave and write several poems that I wish had been birthed earlier.

I let go of magic many years ago. Too many hearts squeezed like lemons, burning open wounds. The pain of muscles trying to let another in. And then…..the eventual…..let go.

In the first hours of this new Winter, I search for them. Call out a line-up of lips and knees and hands and tongues, because I can recall the way they licked their top lip when they were cooking up a new sentence. I have become a sleuth. Sometimes one needs to be in order to believe in what Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote about.


false memories.

I have been dreaming. There is a camel bent into a mathematical quandary. It carries Latin in its hump, hungry for the lost languages bartered away. In this one, I am woman and when I drip sun from between thighs, I learn of pregnancy. I have been warned. There is a hanger made from desert sand and railroads which gut me. Here in this part of brain stem, blood gasps into clouds of self-cleaning exhales. I am getting married to a midnight roofwalker. On our first date, she eats the revolution out of peaches and spits them into nearby satellites. Without words, this music becomes a biblical rant of slayed tongues. These are all facts and they have been documented into stained-glass soliloquies lies. How far along is this education. How tender is this snowstorm which buries several men and preserves the sick they have yet to learn in their bodies. There is a cracked spine, deliberately severed in order to use the bones for ores. When all that snow melts, someone will need to lead us out from the cold and drown. I meet a woman dressed in passport and what I thought was lipstick now calls itself Syrah. She gathers up everything that falls from me and we head into a cloud shaped as instruments. Her kiss erases every scar from beneath my body. And then knuckles rap against front door and I am told that there has been a mistake. With fingers stretching miles, this human unzips me out from all the skin keeping me in and transports me into another torso. This is where you were meant to live, they speak. The blood is still warm and my limbs appear in tact. But the cells are harder here and though there is blood, I do not bleed as frequently. And yes, I still have hair, but it covers me more. And here in this body, I am called elsewhere. How much of this is believed; how much of this is drunk. How many books must be read in order to understand the symbolism of announcements. Are you a doctor of your skeletons, yet.

blur |blər| verb ( blurs, blurring, blurred ) make or become unclear or less distinct

The one who drips toes beneath cold Colorado reservoir tells me to be in blur.

I want to locate it. I want to disrobe it into translation.

What is our rush. How do we want to be approached.

I do not want to be ma’am’d or miss’d or lady’d or woman’d. When my chest is dressed, I want it to be paved road or the way I remember New Jersey to be: concrete. flat. unmentionable.

But I’ve got all this hair and you spent over twelve years comprehending humans due to their predilection to pink or blue. I am neither.

How can we greet another. [how about: hello.]

On this side of the earth, it is necessary to ask questions like: what pronoun do you prefer or what part(s) on your body are not permitted to be fingered or gathered and what is your relationship to your gender today?

This does not have to be academic or disrobed. I just want to take teeth-bitten fingernails and scratch my way out of this space. I just want to (im)properly footnote my way into a way of surviving this. Apparently, ace bandages are dangerous and can cause dislocation. I have purchased something more formal and I wait for its presence in my mailbox. I am going to attempt to hold off on the scissors and see if I can [dis]member my gender without scheduling a buzz cut. My shoulders have been called small. My hips have been titled sexy and curved. What do I want to hear. My wrists are strong and have fought wars. My feet are cut up and callused from walking through state lines just to run from this body. My collarbone is clumsy, but also chatty. Ask it any question and it will respond in sliced up poems from Lorca or Bukowski.

What to call all of this.

I keep reading books on gender in order to find mine. We’ve gathered up so many acronyms and delineations. What hasn’t been mentioned. What is left to claim.

You are taking shots of  T to claim the body that has been hiding inside you;  I wonder what stimulated sap exists to get me closer to what I am. All these ledges I’ve been dangling on and I am trying to find a reason why I’ve done things. I am trying to translate the trauma of my bones.

For now, see me as a window with raindrops. Obscure and faint[ed]. Keep asking what I call myself. And pause before each touch so I can force my reasons out. Tell me I am handsome and comment on the sparks of language on my brain, rather than the red in my hair. See me as human…that is all I can claim so far.