Brody Parrish Craig

SHRINKING THE VIOLET

on Gender Dysphoria & the DSM-5

 

when the stranger/doctor/voyeur
says give me some skin says hi says do you

have a marked incongruence between

your experienced or expressed gender

and primary &/or secondary sex characteristics

 

says do you have a strong desire

meaning do you have a strong desire to be rid of

says do you have a strong desire to be rid of

your primary &/or secondary sex characteristics

meaning do you have a strong desire for the primary

&/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender

 

Other, other

I tell my shrink

 

but should I tell them I’m a tree half-climbed

or wrinkled up in time I am a liturgy I tried to die

once upon a cliff by the Red River

my body the smirk of a neighbor
my arm a bent cigarette useless to burn
my hand a wolf spider that catches the others
meaning I’m wary of pocket knives & weary of butterflies
meaning I would like to put my body out
meaning I saw the hair on his chin and wept
meaning I’m considering initializing change
when the stranger/ doctor/ voyeur says

 

do you have a strong desire to be of the other gender
a child doubles over the stubble
of grass waiting under winter
& the ice melts with the last emergency
contact in my phone—

 

weekly some body rubs
my body out & I disperse

 

the vial half full of a voice
I cannot drop into the undergrowth
when the stranger/ doctor/ voyeur says

 

do you have a strong desire to be treated as the other gender
do you have a strong conviction you have typical feelings
do you have the typical feelings & reactions of the other gender
I walk the moebius strip of interstate

 

imagine my first love’s clutch
the first time the tunnel in my body closed
& cut their body off in traffic
when some choir boy cued up     you’re all nightingale pressed into barred window

                                                      you’re all flower posted up beside a grave

 

Do I have typical feelings?

 

Do I have typical reactions?

 

tonight if I cough up my breast
plate change offering gut wrenched
by the Mechanic’s fuck somebody’s
grammar’s got a hunch I ain’t
quite man enough & I’ll be damned

 

if Adam asks again             you got a rib to spare for supper?

                                           a last cup of sugar some boi could borrow

                                          to pick the lock inside the stomach?

 

spring me out of here
our eyes closed up
in pairs because the flood
is coming crotch

wire pulled back

from the guardrail—

 

spilling transitional fluid
in Noah’s closed mouth

hallelujah

 

when the stranger / doctor / voyeur asks       how long have you lived this way
meaning                                                           how long have you been subject

                     to passing at the truck stop or in public

 

I say the body more than oyster, egg,
a shell we can’t or won’t crack up
& you crack down on you desire
a user manual for my autonomy my vehicle
as if my agency needs to be calibrated
as if my agency is leaking fluid grlboygrlboy on the highway

 

when the stranger/ doctor/ voyeur asks

 

for all our bodies to come back in two’s

I will not diagnose anyone’s plans for Noah’s ark

but I’ll be building

will be busy

signaling to all my animals

 

who say they didn’t realize

that god’s flood was coming

soon

 

I’ll tell them burn their blueprints pinkprints scaffolding

under my breath                     which letters must I spellcheck

                                                which boxes must I bury

                                                to get the papers’ chorus over with

 

as if my agency is outta whack

& shaking on their interstate

worried about the truck flailing

into my space my stance my lane

 

I say safe space safe space safe space
can’t shut our eyes to sleep can’t stand

 

to hear that shut-I sound that flap
of skin over the soul I’m up all night
spinning around their slit-eye body
like a marble my brain circling the text
that says I am a sculpture, object, singular

 

circle cell as halo,

flesh & flush the body out

 

my neighbor’s feral cat my body frozen as a still frame

from a Dali drama where they slice the lid up like a jar lid

the stranger/ doctor/ voyeur who reviews me like a foreign film

as if I’m here to tell you for the first time about this

 

the cis-

subtitle our language

 

as if they just don’t see the difference

between an eyelid & a jar lid

as if they don’t remember

as if they pronouns ain’t grammatical

as if they can keep a lid

on my boygrlboygrlboy

as if some shrink holds my body’s future

like a violet cut between their pearly whites

 

EVERY GRRRL HAS A VISION OF HIR WARD-ROBE

He said my thighs were boyish,
big, said less to crush you with.
He claimed my body was a roadmap.
Complicated to read without clear-cut
direction, without consciousness, I turned
over like a cheek & found a cig-burn
on my back’s blade. He said I was a hot one,
crush of filtered, photo, semen’s spring.

 

Splayed across the front seat, cockblocked
view of the oncoming road. When he pulled
out & over on the shoulder, I skirted strangers’
questions. O ring cheap scar smoke eye gallop
tripping over six eyes, sex legs, crushed mouth,
nip slip, evidence, so many tongues, so many

 

Tongues. So many tongues to strip from shoes,
so many strings to take out bagged possessions.
Ward-Robe, white gown, white sheet, white page,
in the ward we ghost inhale & ghost exhale the thought
if only I was King here with my idle hands pulled on the shoulder
waiting for headlights to flick or brain-fire to be put out.

 

We put out & we live by promises of rings
& fingers in the right spot good job G strings
are prohibited inside the ward no strings
but men here laugh say fuck me baby as I beg
the nurse to leave me nightingales say here say have a
Quiet Room they cough up a cement cell they tell
me here come cry in do not threaten, call for help

 

I call for help over & over on the land line ask for the extension
of the agents of the arm of god my King says firecrotch. Says firearm.
Says fired, fired, fired. I fire all the men with reclaimed wood & hobblehorse.
Then, some patriarchal god sweeps in & tells them
No, I got your back.

 

If I turn back take back buy back tonight I won’t weep won’t

 

Weep))

 

My iris
is a waterbed
to poke a hole in

like a condom
would be broken
leak of fluid

am I really

 

just a boy turned over
like a mouth
a stone inside the park
that we flip over to find
some worms in there

 

the wormhole is
under my body’s
stone brim
like a furnace

 

flip me over
& I speak
so many tongues

 

My hobby: dress I kill & later tell it sorry,
sorry, sorry, sorry this my neckline con-
fessional why don’t you scoop out every
inch of fabric of my being / my lost sheep
little boy blue ball blue in the iris my ringed
pupil yes we clouded judgement vision this
here number you can call or even number you can be
perhaps statistic call tonight if you are lonely me myself

 

my hot line & my vein the roofie wafer body worm
hole wound-well-open Baptists dipped their hands
in me said O my idol-grrrl my idol how many licks
years does it / will it / take & does it take the edge off
take the edge off of a blotter / white the black-out

 

body out / to take communion tonight my bible curled
to ash a snake’s tongue splitting at the seams I locked
the four men in the fire though I only know the names
of three. Despite, for every crime I see Abednego won’t burn.


Originally from Louisiana, Brody Parrish Craig’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in TYPO, EOAGH, & New South, amongst others. They are currently at work curating TWANG, a regional anthology of transgender and gender non-conforming artists to debut in 2019. Brody Parrish resides in Arkansas where they organize with InTRANSitive, make coffee for strangers & craft with their fiancé.

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