for joseph/josephine/the genderqueer child of jacob

after J Mase, III - Josephine, What the bible says about transfolk.

(the words of mother, father, and child)

1. i gave birth to him;
my bust fed him to strength.
and as he grew into himself
forming a person that we’d call his own,
i began to see his difference
in pitch
and gesture
and the manner in which his lips curved.
his dreams, they would begin like any other
but they would contain stories that our world wasn’t ready to hear.
i feared for his life
i would tell him;
to become less of himself,
to shrink, to fold himself over,
to fit the shape that many men before him had created.
i asked him;
to have a broom-stick sturdy manhood,
but he’d sweep all my words aside
and continued to be,
all that the others would shame.

2. see, jo was was the youngest,
and he came when i thought that my seed had
dried/shriveled/was of no use
he was the joy.
his brothers,
they would toss insults at his face
their jealous rage taking the better of them.
see, jo had dreams
he had dreams of being bigger than who he was
bigger than what we thought possible.
see, jo dreamt
11 stars/a sun/a moon
all bowing
and him, there, dead centre.
his brothers did not understand
why he wanted to become
a thing they had not seen before.
see, jo was of solid mind
and conviction incomparable
and he lived his days
dancing/swaying
knowing of a freer tomorrow.

3. my family never understood me.
when your beloved care for you, and are in fear
they will beg of you to change your ways.
to make your eyes less wide,
to make your wrist less limp,
not to roll your tongue too vigorously.
i had always known
that my form was not the same as that i had been taught
that this body,
even though mine
did not fit who i was inside.
but when father gave me that dress
in all those brilliant colours
it gave me a wholeness that i had never imagined
i suppose
that father did not understand who i was inside
but that dress,
it said,
'i love you,
regardless.’

hymns for sunday

sing me Nina,
sing her songs of freedom, of flight, and of independence
lets pretend we are ‘69, at Montreux.
play me Mayer,
pluck your own guitar
imagine countryside, and accent,
consider his growth:
from that wonderland, to his 3 x 5 landscape
how he now drinks his whiskey.
lets be Abdullah and Puoane;
Cape Town, and all its jazz
and their mussels swimming in pots of soul.
serenade,
like Mbuli and Semenya
hum like its the 80s and were are adolescents
bright shirts, and imitated haircuts
forgetting that we are in war,
that we are oppressed
all we care about is now,
here, Nomalanga on our minds.
savour Kiwanuka, and Johnson.
bob to Sankomota.
remember Houston, and Fassie, and Mathosa
women haunted,
women dancing,
bosoms heaving,
throats throbbing;
for love, and weekend specials
and for youths.
swim in Bible Belt and Shaker hymns
swing your hips for folk
make me the banjo
make our love an instrument
playing for wide-eyed angels with misplaced nostalgia.
play Blake, and twigs
contemplate his melancholy, and her depth
beyond facade, and appearance
past beauty.
recite all the lyrics to me,
hit pause, and drop my jaw as you remind me:
"I’ll take care of you"
"somehow your love set me free"
"hold me fast, ‘cause I’m a hopeless wanderer".
dance to Sintatra, and Aznavour
Ellington
Mr and Mrs Coltrane.

when the sun rolls down,
and there’s very little Sunday left,
eyes itching for sleep;
let us retire with Byrd
stepping into our tomorrow
with music by our side.

in the mo(u)rning

you can see it,
there in the distance
past the rolling blue hills.
you can see that rainbow
but cant feel it.
there’s a voice in your head
that makes you wonder,
why is today sunny?
is there really any magic?
why is there still life inside of me?
you’ll hold your breath
and keep your eyes shut
hoping your heart slows down,
shuts down,
death.
hoping for death -
surely nothingness in the afterlife feels greater
than all this nothingness in your being.
where all is black and blue
and grey, and sombre
and all shades of insignificance.
you wonder
whether two decades,
or 12 weeks later,
will you still wake up
feeling damp yet still hardened,
haunted by Grimm and sickles of exit?
will you still want to feel cessation at your fingertips?
in the mourning after your suicide
will we dress you in a dark-as-night cloak
or stale-blood-red garments?
at age 26 or 63
will you still yearn for hangings, and pills, and bullet wounds?


or,
will the dust settle?
will your knees begin to ache from joy?
will we etch ellipsis on your skin,
for your narrative has not yet finished?
will you breathe deeper
hoping that the world slows down,
enough for you to see it,
and feel it?

After Romance and Heartbreak: liminality.

theres a liminal space that exists
when half your body is stuck in the closet,
and the other is dancing, embraced by the light
it exists in your mind too
constant tug of war between hiding and being seen
of clarity and vagueness
the haziness of the grey
between black and white
no longer here nor there
wandering in the wilderness
wanting to be known,
but fearing to be known
and wanting to be heard, but fearing that too.
there are words that we can say
alone and near the mirror,
but others that we whisper in fear
words that we sing proudly in front of friends
and others that our kin have never heard us say
there are things we become under the cover of night
and others we wipe off at sunrise.
lovers we’ll flaunt in corners
but hide on the streets,
in the daytime,
when light exposes all
but still not everything.

there are stories you will tell,
of lovers and romance
and pronouns will be vague.
there are poems you will recite
that will breathe life into your frame
but these will only be read
underneath your sheets
where neither friend or foe
truly knows you.

vacationing out the closet is a regular ordeal for many.
who have loved and lost but cant show the scars
one half grinning, the other half in a frown
one part joy one part misery.

this is liminality: a tale of closets
 

After Romance and Heartbreak: orchestra.

There’s a silence that I can share with you
that I am yet to share with others.
One that still says ‘I hear you’
when all you’ve done is lay your head on my chest
and take in breath after breath.

A silence that can’t be compared
to even the most beautiful symphonies,
although ours is not accompanied by any instruments
nor sheets with notes nor bars.
Merely two conductors
with fingers that will stroll
along each others bodies
plucking and pressing
and strumming the sweetest tunes.

After Romance and Heartbreak: 140.

140 characters for the heartbreak

"this man isn’t even mine,
but he’s made me lose things I have worked too hard to acquire”
"this man isn’t even mine,
but he’s gone and made me forget that I am enough. I am sufficient”
"this man isn’t even mine,
but he’s got me heartbroken and writing poems about a house we never built”
"this man isn’t even mine,
but he’s got me hiding my voice in fear of being too loud.
"this man isn’t even mine,
but here I am crying myself to sleep in a fetal position, begging the moon to sing to me”

Heartache will have you tweeting the lines to a poem you aren’t willing to write yet.

After Romance and Heartbreak: 39.

i have stood here,
for 39 sunsets and dawns
hoping you’d say the words needed to fill the space
between your body and mine
hoping that you had heard my words
those that encouraged and coerced you
those that revealed, and unveiled me.
i exposed my bareness to you
thinking you would see it and be moved by it
and disrobe yourself too.
but your eyes told me a different story
even when your mouth twisted and turned to tell me other things
your eyes said:
i am pleased by the idea of you
but your voice has too much truth to it
i am pleased by being inside of you
but there is too much light there
i am pleased by spending friday nights in your embrace
but i don’t want you there on my sunday mornings
i want you to please me
but don’t expect me to return the favour.

our time, shortlived yet unrelentless
has me walking away
feeling undone and without closure
was I wrong for thinking that i was the one you wanted?
did i walk into you, eyes closed
ears shut
senseless and persistent?
did i build all these memories on my own
was i ever yours?
because i thought you were mine,
i found your presence sweet and comforting
i clothed myself in your words
i lost myself in your scent
i lost all sense, thinking you’d give me more than i’d never need
but boy, all you did was take.

you’re correct:
my voice has too much truth packed into it
my light shines bright
my teeth are sharp
and there is a spring to my step that is impossible to remove.
you are a coward for wanting me to be any less.