If We Are All Just God in Drag | Carson Elliot

Image: Brian Suh
If We Are All Just God in Drag
After Baba Ram Dass

Then I will paint my lips with your poetry,
batting eyes at the singularity of a millenia–
                                               This shade always looks so good on you.

Pluck stars from the sky and sew into the fabric
of a time when I last felt this beautiful.
                                              You know, it’s breathtaking.

I can hum a tune that will set even the
most doubtful tongue aflame.
                                              Sit trembling in this blessed creation.

I, who speaks truth into life,
who molds the earth within my hands.
			                       No golden idol can outshine this glory.

Our becoming is the most tender act,
watch curve and angle bless the ground you walk.
			                       Remember when everything was beautiful?

Carson Elliot (they/them) is a nonbinary poet and educator living in Nashville, TN after spending many years in the quiet corners of Northeast Ohio. Their work focuses on the intersections of transness, spirituality, the natural world, and questions of becoming. Their work can be found in publications such as Samfiftyfour, Pile Press, Third Iris, Fifth Wheel Press, and New Note Poetry. Carson lives with their cat, Toast. Instagram: @heyitscarsonk

Three Poems | Aimee Herman

Image: Michal Matlon

removed

Trae sang Frank Sinatra to my left as the doctor removed a drain from my right.


I wasn’t ready to look down yet.  


Later, I apologized for the blood I leaked onto the paper, covering my doctor’s white leather chair.  


I’m sorry for my mess, I said, an apology with a footnote, of which the dissertation is still being written.  


With compression off for the first time in eight days, I assemble as much oxygen as I can.  I inhale 


the width of North America and exhale four decades in this body.  


My eyes unclench; they are not fists.  


The doctor praises my body, her work.  


You are an artist, Trae says to her.  


Slowly, I drop my head.  


My chest is my favorite book pulled open to the best part.  


It is flat, bruised. Nipples like squashed berries on the sidewalk, sort of charred and uncertain.  


I have survived this pain. And my new chest is  
                                                                                                                       beginning

a narrative therapy exhibition

part one.

Debra, my therapist, writes me a letter to prove medical necessity for bilateral mastectomy. I become  a card catalogue of mental distress, two disorders and a dysphoria. The letter calls me consistently  depressive; suddenly, I feel so seen. Why must we demonstrate our unwellness for health insurance  assistance when no man has to take a photograph of his flaccid penis in order to qualify for erection  renewal.

part two.

Strobe light images of sensations and feelings. My feminist hides, squinting every letter into a scared  pill bug. My body is a neighbor I wave hello to, with preference to keep our conversations no longer  than a nod. We pretend we are strangers; it is better this way. There was a time before I flinched. Before  I looked at men and thought about their penises as bullet holes left in women’s bodies. Before what I  wore became a billboard for who I was, how I identified, rather than just cotton and comfort. Before  my dentist declared all the reasons my teeth were complicated derelicts: drugs, lack of flossing, all  those panic attacks and New Jersey water. Before my body had scars named after the men, named  after the meds, named after me. Before that HPV diagnosis. Before that colposcopy where my  girlfriend and I watched my cervix projected on a screen as though it were the star of a new sitcom  about genital warts and bad decisions. Before my body became a crime scene or the DSM-5 or a chalk  outline of a former life or a tear-soaked handkerchief or a protest poem or a ghost or a  misunderstanding 

or a question mark.

footnote

It comes back. It threads itself into the thin skin of my eyelids, jackhammers itself against my chest,  creeps into the wax in my ears. It has been cut out, but it comes back. It has been drowned out with  liquor and hops, but it swims to shore. It has been numbed with powders, chemicals, pickpocketed  medicine cabinets; it keeps waking back up. It. It is genetic. It is unruly, unpredictable. It does not care  you do yoga now or pretend to meditate. It has no interest in what you call yourself now, how you  (try to) see yourself now. It is not going away. It. It stops you from getting jobs, from believing in  yourself, from maintaining friendships, from committing to most things. It starts fights. It. It carries  a switchblade. It. It cannot be quieted by pharmaceuticals; in fact, it dares you to try that again. It does  not cower under doctor’s orders. It hates the term self-care. It is the most persistent part of you. It is  the one element of you that has not given up. It. It. It has locked your doors and windows, so forget  trying to walk out. It reminds you (in case you have forgotten) how worthless you are. It. It expects  nothing of you. It. It. It. It is immune to surgery and sermons. It may will never go away. It. It. It. It.  It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. 

Aimee Herman is a queer, nonbinary educator and writer. They are the author of two books of poetry and the novel “Everything Grows”. In addition, their work can be found in journals and anthologies such as BOMB, cream city review, and “Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics“. They currently host a monthly open mic in Boulder called Queer Art Organics. Aimee is extremely enamored with libraries, ukuleles, and the moon.

two poems + a video – hayden dansky

image 3

Grave Nap

 
On the nights
with no degrees left
I tremble when
I think of you
cold and alone lying
on the dark earth where
her bones lay to rest
beside the bones of
her first son
I know you went there
as soon as you were
old enough to drive,
16 and your license was your
ticket to the graveyard.
Finally free
to be alone
in your obsession
Finally free
to grieve
Dear child, and you were
a child.
When your brother
was this age
he was your parent,
died a child.
You can fall
asleep with your family
every night
if you want to
think of them
before you dream
You do not have
to remember where
their flesh was buried

so long as you
let yourself melt
into their ghostly embrace
You can fall
asleep alone
if you want to
give yourself rest
from the memories
squeezing themselves
into your head
You can carry
yourself as you
wake in this world
if you want to
regulate yourself
help yourself
hold yourself
But you will never be
held by your mother again.
Your truth is in death
where your mind
will never go.
Let that be true for
just tonight.
Dream softly of
all that is left
on this earth
waiting
to decay

 

Funeral

 

At my funeral
there will be
only cut lilies
as decoration
so that everyone
will spend their time wondering
almost entirely
about the cut lilies.
How something so beautiful
could smell so bad;
how something
still living, can be dying,
or how something already dead
can still be living.
How long the liminal space
will last for them as humans,
how long it must feel for a lilly,
and if their perspective of
time even matters if
the process of death
is eternal
for every living one.
If we are all just living things dying
or dying things still living
sped up by life
sped up by work
sped up by stress
sped up by fear
and fear
and fear
and fear.
Their hands will touch
my face and they will
swallow the idea of me
Soak in the void
between the present

and imaginary daydreams
that could have happened
between us
if I had only
stayed alive
Trapped in the space
between reality
and dreams
And they will wonder
if it matters
or if it’s all about their perspective
afterall.
If it’s all about what they desire.
And they will wonder
why they ever fed
anything but desire
and pleasure
and love
and hope
Why they did anything
but move towards justice,
demand another world,
smell flowers
uncut,
and pray.

Kiss my forehead
and leave again
and begin again.

 


Head shot 2018Hayden Dansky is a transgender nonbinary rural queer kid trying their best to not to be smothered by capitalism. Their poetry is a process of letting their flesh breathe, of finding oneself and sharing a body that is always in process. Their writing explores the depths of shame, darkness, queerness, addiction and grief. They create and collaborate with local experimental musicians and dancers to create performances that encompass multiple disciplines. They are also a food justice organizer and work to create more participatory and accessible food systems in Boulder, CO.

Photo: Zane Lee