At the jewelry store, where the shiny pieces of glass rest in shiny rings of metal that shine just like the nickels I spent on pop-rocks at Chick’s candy-store.
The woman behind the counter with the burlap skin and the wind-proof hair looks up from her nail file and tells my mother I am one adorable little boy.
Immediately, I brace for impact, for the car ride home and the litany of things we will do to fix me.
That night after dinner, I dig to the bottom of my fire-red toy box and I find the doll with the golden hair, I cradle her in my arms and I wait for my mother to see me.
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 between their teeth.
My teeth used to be so crooked, they were the only things the kids made fun of more than the crooked way I dress, walk, talk.
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 heartbeat.
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 nerve 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 because of the mirror I was, because of the pretty he had to hold on his own arm to find a home in his own skin.
In New York city, I have searched for the home in my own skin,
when a woman grabs me by the neck of my coat and drags me from the ladies room like a dog on a chain and I am torn between confused gratitude and the urge to bark my pretty name into her face till she can taste the smoke of my father’s pink cigar.
Lady, do you have any idea how many scars I already have in the shape of this boxing match?
I do not wear a welcome mat on my chest just so you can walk all over it.
Fumbling with the keys to the locks they keep building for the doors
I keep opening hoping someone will see the rain-forest growing in my living room.
See how many ecosystems can exist in one redwood tree.
Maybe, what you think is a tough fist is just a tired ballerina curling her arms around her knees.
Either way, I can guarantee a haircut will never tell you anything about someone’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 tell someone in my queer community, “Look, I am about as butch and a Swedish male figure skater.”
As for dyke, I will happily dance in that music box for tonight, but tomorrow when I pull the word “faggot” from the shotgun of a frat boy’s throat then send it in a love letter to my love so she can scratch it down my back, please believe, I am taking back every Bible belt that has ever cracked against my spine.
Every night I drove through Kansas with I swear to god, a pink barrette in my fucking pocket
in case I had to split second decide if woman would be safer armor than this. When his flashing blue lights give me ten seconds to pick what target he’ll be less likely to miss. Officer, I’d be willing to bet those arrows would look a whole lot sharper in my cupid hands than in the dull hatchet of your hate.
Than in the way you spit the word “ma’am” down my throat like I might swallow it in the same gulp as my pride.
Before you decide who I am, remember pride? That’s my parade.
Built from the fairy wings of boys who bulldozed your barricades the day you claimed AIDS was a gift of God, our wheels started spinning like Christ turning over in his grave,
For every holy-knuckled genderbent trans-kid who’s taken a knife blade to the gut,
Every blood hound that ever sucked on her pronoun like her self-given name was not a stained-glassed cathedral, their tired boots could only pray to find soul enough to touch.
Now ask me what I am, I’ll tell you all of the above and none of what they’ve ever listed.
I will say I have never cared to be nearly as much as I cared to become.
We are all instruments pulling the bows across our own lungs.
Windmills, still 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 into the night.
That jewelry case,
a sparkling star,
where the face of the moon,
is always winking at some adorable little boy with a pink cigar.