Consider the Strawberry
What is it to say that it’s red,
that it smells grassy-sweet,
that it was petal-born and carries
generations on its pock-marked back?
A strawberry is a strawberry.
Can it be as simple as saying
its blood is a red-light district,
that on my tongue it is hairy
like a lover’s treasure trail
but soft like the skin beneath?
A strawberry hides nothing
beneath its skin. It wasn’t born
with the affliction of personhood,
it doesn’t hide obsessions or
desires or multitudes. It doesn’t
put on makeup to look the way
it feels. It doesn’t wear heels
to make a bodily statement.
It doesn’t wish it were something
else, doesn’t ache to be divorced
from itself. A strawberry can say
whatever it wants in the night.
No one will press it to their lips
expecting a kiss. No one will
call it pretender, least of all
itself. It will not be referred to
as “sir” or “bud.” It has
no obligations to anyone,
not even the sun, not even
in the temple of your mouth.
Every Tree A Boy
I will fuck a new boy
on the railroad downtown.
After the thrill of an hour, he will leave
the condom blue and smiling there
on the gravel like a vein unfurled
to dry in the sun. Y’know the Stoics
used to thrust their veins skyward
in depressive moments, a sign
of a raw exit should they have ever
required one. I display mine
at the grocery store, in the mirror,
at work. I thrust them under people’s
noses on the sidewalk.
New boy blocks me w/in an hour
of our railway rendezvous.
I will not think of the old boy
instead of sleeping.
It was not his muscles
crisscrossed into black stars
by the chain-link fence. We never
shared the sticky possibility
of a naked death. He will not come
to me as cat’s purr, or as the sound
of a semi air-braking down the highway
by my apt. I may wander too-wired
the neighborhood. The trees will give
no welcome, but they will take
on the shape of boys, each rooted deeply
to his reality; arms almost infinite.
I don’t write poems in coffee bars
says the gal in the coffee bar. I’m writing a poem
bc boredom bc procrastination bc the words make me.
She has a skull on her shirt, some red lines
pressed into the skin of her arms & back and
I wonder if they’re rope marks. Has she
been recently bound? I am tightly bound
to bringing my own coffee when I don’t like
the place’s drip. When was the last time
I wanted to feel course hair, a raised vein
against my palm? Whatever happened to my lust,
my craving connection? I feel like I’m alone
in my disgust at the idea of flesh on flesh
but the truth is we all envy bees.
Do you remember feeling attracted to
Robin Hood? Or Simba? I don’t care
what anyone’s into. I’ll pay them to stfu up about it.
I fisted a guy last January bc he asked me to.
I’m not sure if this was weird or exceptional.
I guess two things can be true. The second
time a dude ever came in my mouth, I definitely
kinda barfed. I should have brought my own
drip. When my boyfriend tries to go down on me
now I turn into a hammerhead. I try so hard
not to want whatever people consider normal.
It is better to be bizarre, to be outcast, to suffer,
it must be. Right? If I am never touched again,
will it matter? I admit to wanting a loose top
I can wear to the coffee shop. I want my raven hair
to spill over my slender shoulders, over my rope burns.
I want to stop writing poems in public, share stories
of my latest climaxes. I want to cup someone’s shame,
keep their desires company. I want to be a Bond girl
when I slip my bra onto the floor of the cabana.
I want to be Monica L., but w/out the cruelty we pay her.
No—don’t ever touch me. I’ve played out the dp
fantasy. I’ve cleaned cum out of my armpit more times
than I’d like to admit. So that’s it. Don’t fucking come
thirsty to my house, don’t send me a dick pic at Christmas.
I don’t want to hear about any inches, any “gains,”
any kinks. I guess mine is to curl up w something soft,
no notion of pounding or wailing, no need to dominate
or take it or to force myself to swallow. So walk behind me
with a little bell; throw tomatoes or cabbages. Shame me.
G. J. Sanford is a trans poet and MFA candidate at the University of Nevada-Reno. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in River Styx Magazine, the Potomac Review, The Meadow, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Rust + Moth, and others. They currently reside in a tiny house with their tiny feline muse, Finn.