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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.

Danielle Lemay.jpeg

Danielle Lemay

Pronouns: She/Her

3 Poems

For the Danny I Denied

Rainbow Brother

After Dinner on a Thursday 

          Night While Kids Play

          Video Games


Rainbow Brother


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.

When not reading or writing poems, Danielle Lemay (she/her) works as a scientist and serves as an Associate Adjunct Professor at the University of California-Davis where she earned a PhD. She lives in central California with her wife, two children, and six chickens.

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