Kaja Rae Lucas



But everything will still be going when the stucco

shingles fall & reveal broken asbestos. They told

me to pull my carcass up by bootstraps, to raise

my carcass like a child, dissect it from the

thin lines of veins and liberate myself. I noticed, though,

growing into the slits of paling yellow walls,

there is only nostalgia for fixed points. Like my mother

baking macaroni pie, the smell of shame on fingers,

my medically required coffin, stained with formaldehyde.

They said, as a black person, they will always be

trying to kill you. I matched this with flurries of

“twice as good,” in my father’s voice. The refrain,

“to get half as much.” They told me in the barbershop

that we are speaking with the dead, playing records

through chapless skulls. They told me in the hospital

that disorder is a choice, its echoes playback

in my ears.  They keep them here, in quiet rooms with skies they

could never touch. I am afraid of them.

I am afraid of being. I am afraid of being–black.

I tried to perform this fear. I tried to perform this trauma.


Each time I erased myself with state-sanctioned eyeliner swipes,

they made me beautiful, hollow & vantablack.

They played back the video. I noticed, the room still moved,

nothing stopped, there was no half-human peace. They

didn’t care. I erase the word body from poems.

I erase the word breath from poems. They erase

beloved from my small breasts and broad shoulders

and replace it with “tranny freak.” I linger inside the barriers

of timelines; I imagine a now. I imagine a life.

I imagine nostalgia. I do not need to imagine

my family coming back to me. They are here.

My mother straightens my spine. They tell me to fall apart.


I play with “they.” Here, I mean “state”

here I mean “father,” here I mean “self.” Hope, they said,

is from a cannula marked blackness.

Hope, they said, is a pressured sky falling in on the bone in my chest.

Hope, they said, is a Marvin singing hymns till his momma cries.

Hope, I said, is my chest boiling & singing soprano.

Hope, I said, is a pent up emotion. It lines up the living. It shatters them one by one.


Kaja Rae Lucas lives in Maryland and is one of the 2018 Baltimore Youth Poet Ambassadors and was a finalist in the DC Youth Poet Laureate competition. She has been published in Big Windows Review, Cholla Needles, L’Ephemere Review, and the forthcoming anthology of student poets from the America Library of Poetry. She loves MF DOOM, black tea, thunderstorms, and her fellow trans kids.

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