Gender & Sexuality

Conversion Table

A stick of carrot is equal to a gillyflower.
A gillyflower is equal to a drum of gasoline.
A drum of gasoline is equal to a stick of carrot.
“For the sake of my offspring, I think I’ ll marry an outsider.”

Tamerlane has been sighted in Northern Italy.
Jesus has broken out in Inner Mongolia.
They like to kiss outside and piss inside.
We like to kiss inside and piss outside.

The Coin of Your Country

When I take my scissors to your shirts,
I am frightened: not that they will whimper
But that they won’ t understand the violence I mean.
That kind of violence is the other side of love,

Bright as a light-saber and permanent
As the angel’ s swords above Eden
Barring that couple with a final X,
That violence means a love strong as death.

Once Sie ist mein leben, you said, meaning me
And I took those words personally
And knocked upon the door of my heart
Until all its birds flooded to you, in a rush —

The Couple Next Door

tend their yard every weekend,
when they paint or straighten
the purple fencepickets canting
each other at the edge of their lot,
hammering them down into soil
to stand. How long will they stay
put? My neighbors mend their gate,
hinges rusted to blood-colored dust,
then weave gold party-lights with
orange lobster-nets & blue buoys
along the planks. So much to see
& not see again, each chore undone
before they know it. I love how
faithfully they work their garden

The River of Girls

This is not really myth or secret.
This murmur in the mouth
of the mountain where the sound
of rain is born. This surging
past pilgrim town and village well.
This coin-thin vagina
and acid stain of bone.
This doctor with his rusty tools,
this street cleaner, this mother
laying down the bloody offerings
of birth. This is not the cry
of a beginning, or a river
buried in the bowels of the earth.
This is the sound of ten million girls
singing of a time in the universe
when they were born with tigers

Happy Trigger

Off-season and in
the burnt forest
of my nightgown, a feral
undergrowth that marks
me as burial site —
to be still enough or
just enough.

My arms become fat arms:
hearth. I eat dirt for doubt,
a secret bleached
old as lie. I out-want
like a spindly
winged monster.
If I were a bug —
were I — then you'd hope
for reparation, and paint
more brown into the plot.


Two women on a train
sit beside me.

I am young and the world
is flying and I am watching.

One of them is frosty.
The other turns like a leaf

to hand me something —
it looked for all the world like a page.

I thought at the time
that it needed me and I was right.

The letters fell into place
and simple flowers grew.

Now it talks unceasingly
in long white verses

as if at a wedding,
something women understand

and gently want and then regift.
I myself agree with Herbert,

Siren Song

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can't remember.

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don't enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical

The Last Time I Slept in This Bed

I was involved in the serious business
of ripping apart my own body.

I’ d run my fingers over it,
seeking but never finding

the right point of entry,
so having to tear one myself,

though midway through
I’ d always tire,

and let night enter
like a silver needle,

sewing my eyelids shut.
This was not an original practice,

but thinking, for a time, that it was
felt like being able to choose

when spring would arrive:
engineering an April