occasional elements and bodies they make
Sunlight, consequence of sun, wakes me. Sweeps slow, roams my skin,
my down of hair, the dawn, rising. Spring mornings, graceful, breaking.
Waking, consequence of sleep—sleep of waking. Today i may do many
things, some intentionally, softly, with care, others habitual, thoughtless.
The era asks little but that we remain aloof, consequences of which
abound. In the chasm of space lays earth and desire makes many,
tethers missile and famine to womxn wishing on specks, dandelion
thistles blowing grace to dust. Coins drowned at the well of our
enormous weeping. What becomes a body, desire exiled across? Tie a
blue ribbon round my finger and forget me. Even the moon travels such
great distance for what it wants. i am mostly water, occasionally other
elements, equally ethereal. Wraithlike, whisper of sun of which i am
whisper, i am consequence
Desire, being. Most innate of things. Inside and out nothing precedes.
Scrape knees and pray for next day, next hour, next blink eye minute,
some other lifetime and still, through exhaustion, desire runs you shift,
plurals tenses, thrives beyond binaries. There are languages in this
chasm, mostly wordless. In back my mouth i taste beyond, can almost
pronounce through clack of bones. Tell me where your body’s been.
Dream yourself barefoot holy in water and chanting, cedar smoke
embracing you loop upon loop upon cinder. It isn’t too precious, i
promise a shoreline, pornographic tidal swell, everything melts into
And are your back and shoulders stone? Glimpse the ruins we descend.
i name my gender grotesque, my tongue snapped out. Some questions
answer themselves. What did Persephone think about, those long days,
held? who was Helen at home? did anyone notice Medusa’s calm, sweet
breathe as she slept? You see them too? Mary Magdalene and Marsha
P. Johnson walking on water, back and forth across the Hudson, sky
goddexx pouring witch ash from the blue. How many nails must you
swallow for the letting go? Know you’re a body and that bodies make
sense, keep own time, measure distance, make forgetting, collaborating
with the fathomless pull of
Something in my nervous system gives my body shape. You cannot
swap a set of bones. You cannot come from any other ruin but. In the
gathering of days you accumulate dust, brick, bacteria, mortar. Touch.
You—consequence of blood and breath and ancientness, and in that
ancientness a rhythm, another word for ancestor, another word for
lineage, for story. Everything a reaching for
This morning i woke up fetal, defensive, as if guarding against.
Consequence gives my body shape,
If you ask me to write a Trans poem, it’ll begin and end in dirt.
Something we know well. A garden is for growing, stemmy things
tending towards sun, reaching out from the same place we bury our.
That’s a metaphor & also not. Bodies are real, are real, are real and
Open your hands, i am handing you seedlings, forested along the small
of my back. Share, if you wish, where your body’s been. Windows
unlatched, bowls of cherries
Trans is prayer. My whole body speaks ecstasies. A dangerous poem,
our sentience. i am trying to feel something, a new kind of knowledge,
old, the sort a spider tends through weaving, takes through wrapping
and sucking blood, if i am every character relayed herein. Don’t we love
iron on our lips? Don’t we crave mutations? Don’t you love sucking
blood? Even the moon travels
Patriarchy mutes where first person singular reigns. A colonizer is
nothing if not a fetishist for categorization. Every night the terrors
come—i am trapped in a small room with a limbless demon blocking
escape baring brute torsic force. Every night the terrors come and you
must get out—you must. Bag and garbage what doesn’t suit, in such a
way as not to plastic the bellies of birds, the future we, the fut—
Tonight’s programming is so much creativity goes into destruction. Tell
me where your body’s been. Are you ever nostalgic for what you could
not? Teach other waves to interrupt. Support is mutual, mutable,
Down in my child heart i want a language that can speak me, break me
open and sow, that is the joy the eternity the full stop of breath because
breath is all so breath must be enough and also a body isn’t theory,
though a theory might be a science might be a poem or a thousand other
things + that might be prayers and anyway all of it is intuition. You trust
the heart to beat until it won’t so why won’t you trust it to
i’m saying, what if there are ways of understanding, mutably, that don’t
lead to poverty or gentrification, oil war gender war rape pillage plunder
war? No hero journeys at the cost of? No black that can never be and
white doing whatever it twists? Like i’m saying gender is fine but there’s
more than two of them okay. Saying in the chasm lays every kind of
body because Earth, being the sum of all things living or ever lived, all
things fading or ever dead, anything imagined or imagined imaginable in
the soft, the plated, the feathered & scaly forms that ever were, ever are,
Anybody think to ask Trans people what the sun feels like against our
skin, which smells arouse the hair on our arms or legs or backs or bellies
or faces best, what a home full of tastes would sound like, or the ways a
song seems breaking against shore? Does anybody think to ask Trans
folx what is held in the colossus? if the minotaur is blank reflecting
who? Do you know how to love, how to sorrow and mourn that which?
Could you speak it if you could? Language, after all, makes a world
that, once spun, writes itself. Often catastrophically. But language
mutates, as well as offers
You said my name, i felt the Trans sensorial history of all things
awakening, desired my own body, even briefly, future memory alive and
grotesque, desiring, desiring. Quickening. i wanted to weep for us all,
for all of
A poem is a prayer if by prayer you & i agree—a body. If by body we
mean synergy, and by synergy, rhythm, and if by rhythm we initiate
transient rites of breath and blood and movement beat ancient, and in
that ancientness we disciple geologies, if by discipling geologies w
mean coming together of transition and molt, forming whatever Earth
dreams up—if we’re agreeing that nothing alone is useful which is why
there’s so many things, if by so many things we’re talking about what
makes a body body, by which i’ll offer you my grandmother’s recipes,
memories of perfume my mother, younger, wore years ago and cancer
free, trinkets of childhood spent afraid of dark, love notes script cursive
like ink blown wind bound 1925, my big sister’s skates, tapes we’d
dance to i still lug about in boxes—the safety of her company—spice-free
rush of microwaved suburban dinners, our food retaining purpose
but sacrificing its will to quicken time, my great grandmother’s music
box, her knitting needles, a quilt, knotted for me. i’ll offer my weight as
well, doused, wheels heaving, brown liquor paired with powder, toxic
male inheritance, toxic scaffold, toxic law, toxic t.v., traumas we hold
together, civically, our bodies unlearning what they know isn’t true—
and can we meet somewhere, meet somewhere, meet somewhere, i’ll
open my hand, you are handing me your own i am, and here are my first
fishnets, first liquid eyeliner, oh clumsy applicator, a book of words by
Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, dried flowers, letters from friends strung
upon my wall, heirlooms of a body, liberate—A poem prays the world
through altered eyes, and by altered eyes i mean i think we’re mutable, i
feel we’re liminal, so we hold hands a little, recoil a little, say the body is
heirloom and reaching for, that a body is just a body and also never
Sunlight, wraithlike, whisper. What’s a poem but a trigger? Everything
a reaching for. Consequence of tangles. A kind of flesh, a sort of bone,
vivid. Rendered. Are you here, my love, my collaborator? Whisper. i am
dizzy for it—like spinning spinning spinning like whisper of whisper—i
want, i choose what lifts
What does genre mean to you and how does it build/ unbuild your work?
Writing does all kinds of things—conjures spirits, builds/ affirms community, converses amongst bodies + times, asks questions. All these practices are somatic, civic, ecological, carry their own economics, politics, their-stories, etc., and so it seems useful to greet them intentionally, which always involves mutability, or a trans-ness. Sometimes, it’s a poem brought forth, sometimes an essay. Other times, you need to dance, or write a different score, collaborate, argue, share a meal. Ultimately, the things you’re making tell you what they need to be(come), often through experimenting and mutating a hundred different possibilities.
i find writing very difficult—like there’s no shortage of ideas, but what’s the body, the genre all about? what’s the syntax, the rhythm? is this too didactic? who and what is being served by a piece’s existence? Often, i’ll start a piece as a poem, and next thing it turns lyric essay, maybe prose. Later, i’ll return to the work and find in it the poem. These days, i’m interested in welcoming lines from poems into prose pieces, or turning a question a poem asked to essay. Whatever genre i’m working in, there’s continuity, which is the heart of my work and more important than strict dedication to any one form.
As a writer who happens to identify as Non Binary Trans, the only way of working (or doing much of anything) that resonates, that makes any sense, that feels integrated, is to move through, question, push at the boundaries of genre, every time i sit down to write. There’s no destination but the body, nothing for the writing but to make. Creating spaces where a new-ness of genre might appear, or another way of body-ing can happen, or it feels like—at least, for myself—that there’s something Trans* about the syntax, that’s what keeps me asking…i mean, writing.
All in all, i want to serve the body, i want to remain legibly illegible.
xtian w is a poet, essayist, performer, dog walker, & city dweller. Their work appears or is forthcoming in No, Dear, [PANK], Bone Bouquet, & Hematopoiesis Press. As of this fall, they’ll begin their MFA candidacy at NYU. xtian paints their nails among houseplants in Brooklyn, & is interested in Trans* everything.