For the Danny I Denied*
Boy-girl in ballerina tights
and scratchy lace, I died a little
with every demi-plié. I did not
understand my spindly arms,
when my spirit-muscles grew thick.
I never stopped being surprised
by that dainty girl in the mirror
with long curly hair and frilly dresses.
I wanted overalls and a buzz,
pecs, not breast-buds. I yearned to be
picked for the kickball game, to give
a girl a rose, to sport my boyish name.
Flower girl. Ballet bee. Picture time.
Every day I had to decide:
my mother's happiness or mine.
*"For the Danny I Denied" was selected by Dorianne Laux as an honorable mention for Limp Wrist's 2021 Glitter Bomb Award.
I look for my baby brother among mugshots,
for a smooth white dome, a sign he still roams.
Last word: a borrowed tent in a trailer’s backyard
belonging to a man with no legs.
In Florida heat, addiction hollowed his cheeks,
skin stretched over jutting bone sucked of meat.
With the pandemic, my worry stretched thin
over too many possible dead ends. One night
a green dot by his name in Messenger.
I bolt upright, then guess he’s a Russian bot.
He says he's living at the nudist resort
of a polyamorous friend; I know it's him.
Twenty minutes after digging deep, I lose
him again, like a rainbow after drop-
lets evaporate, leaving longing in its wake.
Months pass. I search his last place, never change our locks.
After Dinner on a Thursday While Kids Play Video Games
When you drop the scrubber mid-dishes, take
my hand in yours, lead me down the hallway,
in your confident stride, the flannel and
blue jeans of your soft butch backside, even
after 25 years, I know you will
unwrap me like a new package, untie
the knot of me, disassemble and then
repair me, harvest me like a purple
Japanese eggplant, swollen, succulent:
even before we reach the bedroom, I
shed my manager mind, our to-do lists,
wipe the slate clean for your doodling, your words,
my love, using the thick pen which you keep
for this purpose, which only you may wield.