G. J. Sanford

Girl Ghazal

none of us anywhere wish to be categorized a girl
on another’s terms; still a lot rests on our becoming girls

(or our forgetting we were ever anything but extra-
ordinary). this is how we go from us—birdsong—to girls.

sometimes the night is its own peace; sometimes a murmuration
of hormones leaves the streets wet and full to the gutters with girls.

nor would we choose to be housed in the past. i’m chained to its floor,
where each milestone comes in pill form so what’s left can become girls.

what’s the longest you’ve gone in an argument with your mirror?
try twenty or so years. soon every town will belong to lost girls.

i’ve been lost without an in-depth guide—how to smile, how to fade—
show me with a map or a diagram that the stars aren’t girls.

i wonder, will this winter wither me? will i know the hour
of my departure by the sound of a bell? tell all the girls:

find me in the halved hills naked as a precious stone; garnet
or jade. squeeze my mouth open. feed me honey—but say its girls.


Ode to Little Debbie® Strawberry Shortcake Rolls

there are few things more pleasurable than tasting a lover
not simply for the first time but the repeated ritual

of tongue & blush more efficient always than stick & hearth
when it comes to making fire women know the secrets

of desire & will whisper summer zephyrs toward the ceiling
bearing names recognizable only by the wise with each wave

imagine my surprise then when in the complete absence
of another woman or a want more robust than a craving

my mouth was made to reconsider its list of top ten favorite
activities & then indeed its top five & grew confused

because no lover is artificially flavored or infused
with citric acid to preserve texture indeed no woman

suggests you divide her into slices mix her into pudding
either vanilla or banana & serve her to white-haired

grandfathers who appreciate the soft due to a lack of
teeth no woman is red like plastic red I mean a frisbee red

no a maga red the red of deception cradled by white
curls of cream housed in a spongey pale skin

i take them into my mouth like an answer like a breath i shared
once with a girl in pigtails who never doubted i am

what i say i am i take them into my mouth like the eventual cock
i imagine sometimes when i think i could tolerate a cishet boy

then bite yeah i bite & gaze at the insides lick them
a little try to stop my fingers getting sticky as if

my body is something i actually care about in this moment
i don’t think about how each cake is individually wrapped

or that the deb on the box looks somewhat terrified but maybe
every little deb was terrified in the sixties or maybe her

white-haired grandfather forced her to model gingham and straw
& smile baby smile bc nothing makes a sin sweeter than the sugar 

of rosy cheeks and heavy-lidded blues because this is a family
bakery goddamn it and there will be hundreds of billions 

of smiling debs one day then of those six will eventually come to me
in a less-than-$2.00 expense & the words serving & size

will be empty tables & i’ll forget i ever had a person perched
above my face as if borne on grey mists to my lips

or that i once wanted only to tend lush gardens between thighs
when i used to think of pleasure when i used to think of cream


(a trans woman’s) terms and conditions (for hooking up w/ cishet men)

this is not your mother’s internet contract
not the illegible legalese of your latest app
you will not swipe hastily to the bottom
of this document    no signature required
no monthly commitment of cash or time
the conditions are simple    no loopholes
or exceptions    no explanations    no
complaints    i may provide you with names
of specific acts i may wish you to perform
these acts must be executed ex gratia unless you satisfy
certain additional requirements that will be
addressed should the situation require
typically you will instead be asked to consent
to a further set of actions of which
you will be the primary recipient
and which must take place before the acts
initially alluded to in this document
in order to facilitate the best possible outcome
you are expected to adhere to the following criteria

you will not slide a single word
                         over your tongue meant
                         to name me

you will not degrade
                         deride or otherwise
                         pain me

if we agree to do this
                         in a car
                         it must be my car

if i agree to do this
                         in a hotel
                         you bring the favors

preferably you will have recently taken
                         a lavender bath    or come fresh
                         from a dust cloud tasting of desert

since your eyes might by default be lifeless
                         i’d rather you not
                         look into mine

if at any point i whisper a prophecy
                         know you are neither the subject
                         nor the recipient

and this—condicio sine qua non
                         respect the safe word    please
                         prove you are not a robot


G. J. Sanford is a queer poet and writer birthed and corrupted in Nevada’s high desert. Their work has appeared in Lady/Liberty/Lit, Frontier Poetry, the Meadow, River Styx, december, and others. They are, with writer Logan Seidl, co-editor of the Vitni Review.

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