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—The Archangels to Publick Universal Friend upon the Friend’s first death
When the Friend emerges, they rebuff a name & report they have died at least once. The
doctor, god of the bone hammer & other phalluses, says NoNoNo that’s just the decaying room.
In America, we have bones & kidneys & other things we pay to see. My doctor, the conceptual
artist, presents The Bones in Ur Body R Grinding Together & I applaud in the examination room.
On Earth, god of the bone hammer & other phalluses Wikipedias collagen to determine the
cause of the fainting spells & says, The tests are boring for everyone; you’ll just be taking room.
In LA you can adopt one age & be it forever. I choose to be root rot old & pass
the long-horned bees into the long-grained grass. I am making way. I am making room.
The patterns on my genes & on my mother’s are a bit derivative. Once, while napping along the
shore of a river, I dreamt of a river, only to find myself impossibly redundant upon waking. Rumi
writes, The wound is the place where the Light enters you. Light writes her name on all that has
been forced to lose its own. Light loves the room, lays her palms along her ribs, breaking room.
The dress does not make me the thing,
but I don’t wear the dress too much anyway.
In the poem, I can hold the dress with these hands
which is more than I can say for the hands.
I write: excuse me nurse, I’ve got blood
on my dress. I write: excuse me sir, I’ve
got blood. Cole Swensen writes: the man born
with two left hands is born a grown man.
The man born with his hands full of hands
later died. I was born an ungrown man, which is to
say I will later die, but who knows how or how soon.
I know, some people are born with too many pieces.
Some with too little. I am fortunate to understand my body
in appropriate quantities. I imagine my hands similarly. I throw
one up to hail a bus & I become a sail. Or is it assailed? In my
notes, I write: write only about the material conditions of your life.
In my notes, I write: don’t get too caught up in the specifics
of the body. As a child, I sleep with both of my shoes on for
fear of fires. I: the child in post-house fire drag. I: a child born
in a country of running, but not a child of running.
I throw up the other hand & they see a grown man. The
hands of the tale do not matter. Nor does their dual leftedness.
The hands spoon sugar & talk of their impossible fossification.
Only the skull belongs to history, they say, only the femurs.
The hands weave each disk through the windows of the linen abode
draping my body & the body remains un-metaphored. Across a screen,
a client says, Sorry but. A client asks, Are you a man or a woman?
A client smiles into my grown manhood, says, Thank god!
says, Women never interpret for me correctly!
Have you considered joining the military?
In uniform your girlfriend won’t be able to
stop herself from fucking you.
On the phone, a Covered CA representative
listens to me talk & then apologizes for calling
me ma’amsorrysirsorryma’am. Sorry, nurse, but I’ve
got blood on my dress. Sorry sir, but I’ve got blood.
It’s dripping through my hands, through their dual leftedness.
It’s getting on the dress. Please save the dress.
I don’t know how to talk about the thing without the dress.
Please save the thing & its dress. It’s all that’s left.
Author’s Note: Publick Universal Friend (b. 1752) was an American Quaker who fell ill and was reported dead before being reanimated as a “genderless evangelist prophet.” These poems consider, in the light of the Friend, the confluence of gender and illness, and a sick trans American ancestry.