Emma Brown Sanders


there is an official form
for grievances
should you have grievances
there is a guiding paper
next to an unopened
envelope from
sent by car
i swapped my fingertip
for a lampswitch making
a light shine out your face
and feeling illumined
by the pinpricks growing enamored  
the man said, can i touch your bruise and as he poked at it i said
that doesn’t hurt  
that doesn’t hurt  
that doesn’t hurt
a modulation of nonexistent pain
spread over me leaving
a jagged line of shells
where there should have been meat
it seemed cruel and heartfelt to walk away
in defiance of centuries of cis femme tradition
in which cis femme individuals
stand very still and very long
with an interior tucking-in
of which men cannot conceive
so when you touch us
you touch our tuck
no access to the inner-cavity
whole self stuck UP
no pull string
i felt tough like that
i felt at war with nerves
which demanded
fulfillment of desire
but whose
i crafted an alternate
formula consisting of
cereal cereal liquor
liquor liquor cereal
in exactly that order
this was an old and potent recipe for strength
the corn and the milk and the fermented corn
and the burn more nourishing than milk
i neglected to tell the queers in my life about
having consumed my own umbilical cord
i thought it might be a bit much
i created a room full of athletic platitudes such as
pain is weakness leaving the body and
your body can handle almost anything
it’s your mind you have to convince
so i could visit there
and hover in complete still
dispelling any self-myth i had left
i grew empty in loathing
and sat palms up collecting passageway  
it felt good like
the center of an ice cube or
the space inside a shoe before your foot
this is a distillery with a very specific machinery
lest you think anything automate
let me arouse in you doubt
so reaching around for the clutch you find yourself
very adept but with no capacity for show
like a grin made of xray vision
there is a very simple personality test that goes like this: 
imagine the psychic abandonment of everyone you know
does it make you want to count or cum? 
if the bible has a theme it’s definitely friendship
if a woman loves me sober i must be men
yesterday i got drunk early so i was happy on time
i didn’t have any grievances
having seen them clog the drain catch
i was just like plumbing
they decided that physical trespass
could be love isn’t that the
lump sum of this fixation  
you want to take me as a human shield
well i would do it
i would definitely protect you 


Emma Brown Sanders is a queer Philly poet from Chicago. She runs POETRY JAWNS: a podcast with Alina Pleskova. Her work can be found in Boneless Skinless, Fungiculture, and Bedfellows.