Three Poems by G. J. Sanford

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.


Kink Shaming

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.