I had the pleasure of hearing K. Dymek perform their poetry when they were hosting Northampton Poetry’s Tuesday night slam at The Deuce, our local World War II veterans’ club. K. is a gender-fluid writer and artist who has been published in the online journal Slamchop and in Huimin Wan’s experimental anthology Could You Please Pass the Poem. This selection from K.’s chapbook Anatomy Lessons mirrored my own awkward yearning for a gender transformation that defies definition in conventional terms. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase a copy.
How Not to Come Out to Your Grandmother
She tells me not to curse because it’s “unladylike”
like that’s something that would stop me,
like that wouldn’t, in fact, encourage
F-Bombs to launch themselves from my fricative-hungry lips;
I’m feeling smart-ass,
“Good thing I’m not a lady, then…”
Yes you are, she paints
my ribcage raw & pink–
I am my own worst antagonist at this point,
purchasing pain with the prolongation of this conversation
I retort, “No I’m actually part boy”
in my smile voice,
in my, this-is-all-an-elaborate-joke-or-is-it voice,
testing the waters.
No you’re not, the waters snap back.
“How would you know?” I challenge, rather than ask,
Which is when her sister cuts in with:
You don’t got a thingy!
But I’ve got momentum now;
I tell her, “Yeah, I got a little one, grew in when I was thirteen,”
like it’s the truth,
like it’s okay that I’m stealing someone else’s story to get
the level of comprehension I am looking for here,
like the truth isn’t vastly more complicated:
a confusing and, at times, painful thing,
writhing beneath my skin
desperate to break through…
She huffs in dismissal but maybe
I’ve planted a seed of doubt?
I hang onto that like a falsehood matters,
like I haven’t taken this too far already
exchanging half-truths like I can rewrite my body,
like a penis would complete it.