07 Apr Alain Ginsberg
AGAINST RADICAL SOFTNESS
after Cam Awkward-Rich
Okay hear me out, my friends are soft
homes I find my head resting into.
This is my way of telling an ocean
I cannot live there if there are not doors.
The mouth is a door.
I cite the sand and how it burns
as it bakes, a body covered in glass.
When I speak of that which I stand
against I speak of violence and
the potency of a mouth privileged
enough to seal an open maw as it
slithers over my throat and closes.
Remember, the mouth is a door
and what does that make the throat
if not a closet in which we practice hiding.
Anyway, I say this to a friend
and my closet-throat whispers out
my door-mouth that I never see
the radically soft form themselves
a road big enough to block a highway,
an ocean has ways to keep the fish in
the water, keep in. Keep. The sun exits
my door and this too means
home is a place I cannot hide from.
I have never said there is no merit
in the Boa Constrictor, it’s mouth-body
builds bodies into caskets, both casket
and home are made of wood.
In this way softness is synonymous with
violence is synonymous with each
word, a doorknob.
We build locks with our convenience.
My mouth is a sliding door, no,
revolves. I struggle to keep anything safe.
Privilege is still a snake even if it
remains without venom, my body
is a home even if no one lives in it,
my beliefs are ghosts that haunt
the halls of my bones.
Okay here’s the deal. If you
italicise a movement enough
it becomes a graveyard. The art kids
pose on our names and I have been
a convict in this way. I cannot trust
the world to not make art of my home-body
when I am dead, just as I cannot rest
my head in a home my mouth
cannot fit around.
(first the author was a home
to a boy, then the boy italicised.
There as boxes with his name
on them inside of me. A gun
with someone else’s bullets will
still make soft a closet).
Do you see how the beach closes
it’s mouth around the ocean?
Do you see my bones turn to powder
in the embrace of snakes, how
my ashes blend into the water
and you could swear
our names spell the same address.
I WILL NOT DIE ACCORDING TO MY TIME SHEET
after Emily O’Neill
In the weeks after I become jobless
I forget to schedule when to stave off
my depression. It is winter
and the weather forgets
itself, takes names like sauna
mouth or gust throat and
needs reminders on how to snow.
I write on my resume that
I have forgotten how to breathe,
but swear that I can, that
I have references, have people
to confirm this heart was once
a beating thing. Write myself
into memories as someone who
enjoys work, and is lost
without regularly updated reasons
for denying plans.
(I will not go out without purpose)
Winter names my sadness sweater,
holds me in the web of its
calloused hands, whispers to me
“My sweet, swelter. My night
sweat. Write down in the application
how good you are at standing. For hours.
A skill universally wanted by
the machine.” This is one way of saying
I am more content with wanting
to die, if I am being paid for showing up
to work instead of killing myself.
This is one way of saying
that my wanting to die
does not make for good praxis;
longing for a manager who will
schedule me to not come into
work, but to stay in bed
and pass away. How this too
is a form of labor. This is me
re-entering employment to talk
about how slow winter came
and how we always do so much
tricking ourselves to think
we have not yet blossomed,
we still need to give more over
before we allow ourselves
IN THE QUEER UTOPIA
In movies of utopic states we are convinced of two things:
regardless of anything else in the film power is necessary and
naturally sought after, and the supplication to power
is what helps utopia maintain itself.
In the queer future I am sent invitations
to an award show in which we crown
the best trans corner girl. How admirable it is
to sway hips with such a magic it keeps you alive,
to hide knife and bat in thin air
and why would we not award this. Is it not utopia
when we all have a home to get to, and get to do
what makes us fullest in the process but in the queer future
cis people aren’t allowed to look at me
unless they are using everyone’s correct pronouns
and in this future the graveyards get so big
and green and beautiful, we grow empty caskets in the soft earth
filled with dead names and I am only seeing articles
about the successes of trans women of colour.
“Ah yes, another articles about a trans owned business”
and how unnewsworthy that will become,
how every trans owned business is successful.
In this queer utopia I dream of there will be
a 24/hr Popeyes and no one will work and once
in the queer future a half-dead white man, which
I mean to say is that his mouth is filled with dollars
I will never taste, and his skin coppers pennies and
for this I know to not trust a thing I have to give away
before I too love it, this corpse wearing a stomach fuller
than my grief and resilience will tell me to thank him
for choosing to speak to me, and in the queer utopia
I will live in, I will be in a claw foot bubblebath sharpening knives
as his body decays on the sidewalk.
I dream for the queer future most of all that exists,
Where concern is not staying alive but living life
in a way that adds constellations, where
trees grow out of the earth and there are no borders,
there are no barriers keeping us from what we love most.
I do not think we will speak English in the queer utopia,
how will the rest die off when we still speak a language
built on the bones of children, this colonisers tongue, despite
how it sits in a trans mouth will not sit at the table
as history will neither forgive nor forget, will
wait for an apology before hearing a voice worth listening too.
This too is part of my utopia, where the surprise of black boys
smiling hotter than the obituaries seeking their name
will be as much a brightness as ever and will flood the timelines of the internet.
There will still be sadness in the queer utopia I dream of
though, something that swims in the skin and creeps along
the eyes of us all because so few will have made it,
which is not to say the houses will not fill and the joy will not be
an unending road, but that there will always be construction upon it,
bodies mending broken hearts and struggle and sore muscles
and this too is utopia, to fight for so long and still have a chance
to recognise what tension is carried,
and in the queer utopia I want to live in,
I will only be anxious of counting the stars,
and not of how many years we have left to live.
Alain Ginsberg is an agender writer and performer from Baltimore City whose work focuses on narratives of gender, sexuality, and mental health and the ways in which trauma informs, or skews them. Their work has been featured or is forthcoming with Lambda Literary, What Fresh Witch, Shabby Doll House, Rogue Agent, decomP, Write About Now (video) and elsewhere. Outside of writing they tour the country performing in concerts, slams, living rooms, and caverns. They are a taurus.