Most of the poetry I write is very far from being 'confessional'. That is to say, I'm not massively interested in writing the kind of poetry focused on 'my story'. Even those poems of mine which are very personal tend to be playful and tricksy. However, like a lot of folk I've felt a bit stirred up this week by a whole load of trans-related stuff in the media and on twitter. My first instinct was to get shouty and/or polemical and/or theological. Instead, I've decided to inflict a bit of my 'trans-related' poetry on you. Enjoy!
Working it out
Then a girl, a teen,
tangerine in cheap spray tan
clicks onto the bus
and sways towards the back,
her arse a rolling fleshy pendulum in retro jeans;
her ease in four inch heels, the hypnosis
of that arse she wields like a weapon,
playing with her body as if she were a
puppeteer adjusting a new doll’s strings;
a girl trying out what it’s like to be a girl
trying to be a woman.
Watching her from a distant evening
where I’m twenty-four again,
conscious of those twin mounds on my chest
secretly raised over months, a pioneer
shovelling earthworks at night, afraid to be seen;
my stinging eyebrows thin as stiletto tips,
the too bright lipstick huge on my lips,
my eyes fixed ten feet ahead;
and I’m flicking my own weak tight male arse out
far and wide, side to side, picking my way
down the street as if to a metronome’s click;
as if this will grow it fat and round as an orange.
Flicking it like a boy working out
what it is to be a girl working out
what it is to be a woman.
First published in Magma Magazine, No 39, Autumn/Winter 2007
Also published in my book Dazzling Darkness.
Gasping he steps in lets it grasp
ankles waist shoulders neck
feels it cut his throat
wriggles and pulses
scatters skin in coils
flexes limbs cracks knuckles
winces searches for new things
runs hands round the curve of hips
pinches skin squeezes fat
slides a finger deeper in
opens her eyes
sees for the first time.
First published in Wilde Magazine, 1, Winter 2013
Heart red, cut-knee red,
made from perle cotton, the lustre of sunset
on a lake. But not for showing off:
not a take me out, let stars fall from the sky,
firecracker kind of dress; just a dress
for an eight year old girl, a simple pinafore,
to be worn on boring Saturdays watching TV,
drowsy from the scent of baking seeping
under the kitchen door. A small flower
near the hem, perhaps, a daisy stitched in by mum,
something to pick at, fray, one day dig out.
A dress maybe never even worn. Just hung
in the wardrobe, occasionally seen, touched,
smiled upon. To simply have known it was mine.
In those days, to have had something.
The young man learns to love himself
I praise you, for I am wonderfully and fearfully made – Psalm 139
I heard the book of love waits for all
to enter, desire enough to lift the latch,
a litany of dreams difficult to reach,
but still not far off.
I found other words:
denier slip pantyhose basque;
I explored a liturgy of touch.
I held my sins in my hands,
delicate things, easy to slip on;
I walked in the dark, heels tapping
anxious clicks, a rosary for feet.
When I was a child, I thought
like a child. Now I have put aside
I blow a kiss
in the mirror, mouth
This is who I am.