the night of the election I’m in a cave pouring potions no, I’m pouring Gin and Tonics and instead of drinking I’m not even drinking water and I think
dehydration is a form of self-care
in a weird fucked up way where I don’t know how to handle being alive until I have to reset myself. drink water first and
scream later or scream first
until the voice is too hoarse and go to the farm and steal squash and bramble coat and mouth apology.
I didn’t want to write a poem about a government I can’t see myself surviving but I also never wanted someone to put their body on me as a way of saving themselves,
as a way of farm-mouth body-plant seed-survival. sometimes the hole
crawls out of you and
forms a deeper hole
and names itself grave.
there’s a reason to hear grave and wear grieve instead.
legs can make a good crop, can till land if you drag them hard enough, can find trouble in the dirt, find mine, if you bury sometimes it will rise again. sometimes there is an obvious reason to hide into the mouth of a bull instead of into the body of a parasite but mostly I just think escape comes in what we know to repress.
forgive the land for its blood-harvest,
forgive the night and what it covers
forgive the days and their long
there’s a bumper crop of sadness in the soil, there’s a cave full of alcohol and nothing to breathe, we left after we cried and then we cried and then one of us was going to buy a gun and the other was silent and I left. dirt is not a
metaphor for skin
oh what an untended garden,
is too swamp for vegetal growth, just because we’re drunk doesn’t mean we will survive a spell, just because we know how to kill doesn’t mean we can,
doesn’t mean we wear grief on our body like we’re going to battle.
bar is not the same as tending a farm even if the clientele is the same. it’s too humid for certain plants to thrive and yet I still despise transplants.
the results of the election we went to the farm, the three of us, and you kissed the inside of my mouth looking for water. dehydration can be a form of self-care if you focus on it, if you need to reset yourself, if you need to remember how to survive. there’s a difference between force and escape, but both are ways out. there’s an obvious trauma and a lesser trauma. there is farm skin on me, seeds in my cheeks,
you light a one-hitter while breaking glass,
you light harder than the thought of death, none of us want to die, none of us go home alone in some fashion but some of us still have to work the next day.
the election a friend planted himself in my mouth and the soil didn’t take, and we don’t know how to make something grow out of this but there has to be a way to live longer than what might kill us, because what might kill us hasn’t yet, none of the things that can kill us have made a farm of our body, no one drinks over our wakes, sometimes a hole is just a place to put your fears but also can just be a
After Heineken, or When Men at Bars Don’t Kill Me
When cisgender people hear I’ve been fired for being trans / they tell me how they do not go there / anymore / how they too have felt the hands of a privileged god descend upon them and oh / the things we do for money / as if this paper defines our identity
On my resume, under the name lay my pronouns like soft graves. I serve beer to men who talk about the ways I defecate, and though they speak not about the things that exit me specifically they have thought of what they would force me to carry and I do not use the restroom at work because I cannot afford to take out a knife that has been so kind to make house out of my stomach. How lucky of me to lower the inhibitions holding triggers to our throats.
On my resume, under my pronouns, I list the places I have hidden knives on my person. Once I carved my tongue into a sharp point and held it in the cavity of my mouth. If blood tastes of metal am I more a blade than a bullet? What is the metaphor? Don’t bring a knife to a gun-fight? And I enter rooms a trick / of light. If you look directly at me I will not be in your focus, how there is too much coagulation to see the other side of an exit-wound.
An advertisement asks for the money I make serving men who wish to kill me, depicts a man who wishes to kill me refusing humanity unto someone who could be me / and this is not what irony is / this is what is not a dream / this is the hours of my life sold in order to maintain one / this is how we trod onward / wading in the shit spouting from the mouths of cisgender gods / all of them thinking about / how I defecate
Retelling of The Boy Who Cried Wolf or Stock Trans Motif Reprise
Rest in Power Alphonza Watson
And in the story the trans woman is murdered at 4:15 A.M. and you do not know who she was, just that, she was. No, the story does not begin there it begins with the written word, or the bible. A body careening through a canyon (read as: alleyway) singing Hell, and all of the angels leave heaven to find her there at the bottom, drowned in herself. The angels speak unto her do not sing hell, there is no fire yet, just matches for bones, skin like flint, how combustible we birth you. And so in the story the Bible opens on the scene of a trans woman running through the field she works and the neighbors hear the song but know not what to do but sleep and how we do so forget our lyrics. The story continues a river running through the sewers, a man places a foot into her to check for depth and lifts a woman’s voice out of the wetness. It is winter and the water chills the skin into a burn against the wind, she sings out Hell—but is cut off, a drum line enters before she lives, and yes in Aesop’s words no one dies in a literal fashion, but if every sheep is also a transgender person we will not rub the blood of a freshly slain ewe unto the masts of our doors. There are not enough kids allowed to live long enough for an ewe to be made again, and in the story a flock of sheep is found in Louisiana and each home is stained with fresh meet, in the story we have forgotten to name the herds before they are found, in the story a neighbor will hold their friend, say a ram, say how you must be feeling if even I am saddened over this.
Enter, Act I, Earth. Lucifer leaves Heaven and its convenience, folds herself around an identity replicating what isn’t piety, the world: ending, the world: ending, the world—ends, and there are not enough graves for each bone left behind, no.
Enter the alleyway, the facts, a trans woman is found after two wolves enter a vehicle and drive off, her belly is bit open by a bullet. Three people have spoken that they heard her scream Hell, but it’s easy to ignore the bleating if you forget so easily the names. If in the fable the boy in the meadow sung out help instead of wolf would the townspeople of come? would the woman have had a better shot had she yelled hell and not help?
If you rub together the bones quick enough you can create fire, and is that not why we are flaming, is wool nothing but kindling? Still there are no ends to what we learn. A boy lies and says they are a boy, the media finds the body of a woman and name it a sheep, a community is slaughtered and they call it protein, a diet, must be cooked but made to be ablaze so why not be lit. What is hell if not an oven? What is sin but that which spices a meal into something worthy of remembering?
At the end of the story, a canyon folds itself into a community, and what is that if not a grave, and what do you do with a grave but show up to the burial, with shovels to help cover the bodies.
Alain Ginsberg (they/them) is a trans author from Baltimore City, Maryland. Their work has been featured or is forthcoming with Metatron, Lambda Literary, Shabby Doll House, and elsewhere, as well as in the chapbooks Until the Cows Come Home (Elation Press, 2016) and Loathe/Love/Lathe (Nostrovia! Press, 2017). They are a barista, a bartender, and a Taurus.