I want to ride my bicycle

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Cemeteries are the earth’s way of not letting go

Buddy wakefield – we were emergencies

poem – Trellis

there is a reason my body creaks like a closing casket every time I fuck with the lights left on

it is the same reason my friend burns photographs of birds and watches the smoke with pleading eyes

we both had years when the phoenix didn’t rise

when we slept in beds of cindered feathers and held hollow ashen beaks like other kids held ice-cream cones

I sucked the bones of a songbird’s rotting wing.

and you think your pills are gonna fix me doctor?

think i’m gonna chase this down with water?

my shame as loud as his next girl’s nightmares

I tied my tongue like laces around my little brother’s shoes

like a bow around the gift I gave to my father and mother

and my silence equalled every christmas morning when we were still happy and grateful

but my silence was also his next girl’s eyes

her voice falling like timber no one chose to hear

her roots ripped up the sound eroding to the din of an older man’s zipper.

10 years later i awake in damp sheets to the sound of her voice cracking like a frozen lake

and i never knew her name

never saw her face

only heard the rumour he’d moved on to the haemorraghe of another perfect thing

so now here I sing through cinder

through microphones raised like white flags in war zones through poems I have dug from my throat like fishing hooks

from here i look back at my voice lowered to half mast and how he must have stood there with his dirty hand on his dirty heart laughing like a broken levee while his next girl woke with body bags around her eyes and enough shame in her gut to give the hurricane her own name.

if i could see her face

if I could face the eye of her storm

how would I tell her that I speak for a living?

would I offer my own wounds as condolence?

would I say his claws carved me animal

would I say that at 14 years old i threw my bloodied fists into my boyfriend’s face untill his eyes swelled shut, his lips turned crimson and his jaw cracked – untill I was convinced his hands were not every man’s hands

would I ask tell her I have stood under street lamps

waited for swarming flies to identify my body as carcas

swallow every grain of salt

and leave nothing but the trellis of my untouched bones

I remember the fault lines at the corner of his eyes

the way he shook hands with my father

the look on his face beneath the swollen sun – even his shadow looked guilty

concrete made crime scene by his touch

would I tell her all of this?

would I ask her if she’s ever outlined her own body in chalk? is there crime scene tape on her top dresser drawer from the night’s when her true love’s kiss sounds like an anthem to a dead country and she wakes with rope burns around her neck begging the bodies of strangers to not respect her in the morning

in the morning I wipe my blood from the snow

I wipe my frantic breath from the window

and I bind my breasts so tight that not even the air in my lungs can be identified as woman

woman..

are you a carbon copy of myself?

is there a boy inside you painting his soul with the charcol of cindered feathers?

woman..

if i could see your face

if I could face the eye of your storm with the warning locked in my voice box that never came 

would I tell you all of this

and even if I could would I have the nerve to say i’d never take my silence back

my father owned a gun

he’d have blown that man apart

my mother owned a mother’s heart

everything would have broken

everything but you.

Poem – the jewellery store

At the jewellery store

Where the shiny pieces of glass rest in shiny rings of metal that shone just like the tiny coins I spent on pop rock at the deli

The woman behind the counter with the burlap skin and wind proof hair looks up from her nail file and tells my mother I am one adorable little boy

Immediately I’m braced for impact On the car ride home And the litany of things we will do to fix me

That night after dinner I search to the bottom of my fire red toy box Take out the doll with golden hair  and cradle her in my arms 

wait for my mother to see me

And when she does she smiles so big I decide love is a silent auction and I am worth more sold

They wanna make us something they wanna toothpick our bones and keep us beneath their teeth My teeth used to be so crooked

They were the only things the kids picked on more than the crooked way I talked walked dressed

Listen – I am tired of wearing braces From my burning temples to my cold feet

From the slack in my rope to the machine in my heart beat

Every closet is a Russian doll with another inside

By the time my mother finally found the words to call me her gay daughter I was searching for the words to describe the son in my eyes

The shadow of the boy i might be or the boy I might still love For the official gay record I never left him he left me for the mirror that I was

For the way he had to hold pretty on his own arm to feel at home in his own skin In Melbourne I find a way to feel at home in my own skin when a woman drags me from the ladies room by my coat like a dog on a chain and I am torn between confused gratitude And the urge to bark my pretty  name into her face until she could taste the smoke from my fathers pink cigar

Lady – do you have any idea how many scars I already carry in the shape of this boxing match?
I do not wear a welcome mat on my chest for you to walk all over it

Fumbling for the keys to the locks they keep building on the doors I keep trying to open hoping someone will see the forest in my living room Wonder how many ecosystems you can find in one redwood tree Maybe what you think is a tough fist is simply a tired ballerina with their arms curled around their knees

Either way I can guarantee a haircut will never tell you anything about a person’s gender who they love or how they fuck But I’ll keep growing out my short temper For the next time I have the opportunity to say to someone in my queer community look, I’m about as butch as a swedish male figure skater

But sleep tight for I will happily dance in that music box for tonight

For tomorrow when I take the word faggot from the shot gun of a young man’s throat and put it in a love letter to my love please believe – I am taking back every bible belt that ever cracked against my spine

The nights I drove through country streets with a pink ribbon in my fucking pocket just in case I had to split second decide if woman would be safer armour than this Just in case his blue flashing lights gave him ten seconds to decide which target he’d be least likely to miss

Officer- I’d be willing to bet those arrows would look better in my Cupid hands than in the dull hatchet of your hate The way you spit the word mam down my throat and expect me to swallow it in the same gulp as my pride

Before you tell me what I am remember pride that’s my parade Built from the fairy wings of boys who bulldozed your barricades

For every holey knuckled gender bent trans kid who’s taken a knife blade to the gut For every bloodhound that’s ever sucked on her pronoun Like their self given name wasn’t a stained glass cathedral their tired boots could pray to find soul in and not to touch

Now ask me what I am I’ll tell you all of the above

I’ll say I’ve never cared to be more than I’ve ever cared to become

We are all instruments carrying the bows across our own lungs.

Windmills startling in every storm

Have you ever seen a newborn blinking at the light? I wanna do that every day

I wanna know what the kite called itself when it got away

When it escaped  to the night – that jewelry case with the sparkling star

Where the face of the moon Is always winking at some adorable little boy with the pink cigar.