AFTER THE MAN IN THE CAFE WHO SAID THE JEWISH PEOPLE REALLY FOUND OUT A LOT OF WAYS TO FUCK UP A FISH
And on the eighth day after an infant is born
with a penis, the ceremony of brit milah is performed
and for me my bottom surgery began.
If there is one thing I will accomplish,
it is that I started transitioning since birth and
have had the longest surgery recorded.
A man in the cafe mentions a love
for gefilte fish, describes the ways
the Jewish people have made creation
out of a world they were given,
and I understand the metaphor now.
Understand when men on the TV talk
about the smell of vagina, it is most often
done while I am drowning, breathing water,
something smells fishy.
And on the eighth day when there is no longer a dominant female
the clownfish's most dominant male will transition
and that too is how I express Judaism.
My father yelling from the top of the stairs,
and me, in the basement, waist deep in creek water
swimming, looking for the next step in the torah
to split my core and flip the skin in half
to bloom in my waist, and this is one way
I have learned what schmuck means.
I am born and on the eighth day I start researching
vaginoplasty, watch videos where
there are no parts wasted, how it looks
as if a flower is blooming and the blooming flower
is cause for celebration, and my body is deposited
into the bay full of formaldehyde.
There are multiple species of fish that change gender
and it is not uncommon to think that one could be born
with a single Jewish parent.
My body swims into the world and on the eighth day
it enters the market, and my mother passes me to
the childless, to my father, and the fish monger
prepares me for a meal as seaweed grows
against my thighs.
FROM A FIST TO A FACE
after Richard Spencer getting chin checked on inauguration day
Sticks and stones may break some bones,
but words will never hurt me is not entirely a true statement.
Sometimes people talk with me too,
use these fingers to tell stories, how when I rest on a shoulder
it means just as much as the words that fit between these fingers,
how an arm raised can tell someone hello or goodbye,
swear in on an oath or show you have taken one anyways.
These shapes I make can be quite awful things.
Oh, how we say fuck you with the same language.
Once a mouth said words that spoke shapes into me
I did not ask for, how open palm, how raised high but not too high,
how top shelf the reach of me goes, how light it must feel
on the tongues of those never chained down,
how tremble and cross and salvation is promised me too
but once a mouth made words to speak into my fingers,
now everyone knows what I’m saying,
how it speaks on the bones of 6 million past, this hand of mine
can be a terrible thing even when it touches no one.
Sticks and stones may break bones, but it is the words
that tell the bodies how resistance is necessary,
a mouth once said “complying with police will keep you alive,”
and the same mouth breathes dirt and speaks mourning
into the communities now, another once spoke out,
“let’s wait and see what happens” and now
my friends don’t have health care, don’t walk home safe,
don’t show their face to anyone, but hey we’re memorizing
phone numbers again just like the good ole days right?
People really like saying don’t fight fire with fire
but have you not tried? If a man is trying to burn me alive
I would spend my minutes remaining setting ablaze
those who sought to stop me, destroy the machines
so that they cannot burn others, and they raise us
not to give them anything they can use against who we are,
but what is a life if not our biggest weapon?
A mouth spoke out into the world: “sticks and stones
may break some bones, but they also can smash a window
pretty damn good, can also be loud, be boom, be curse, be chaos”
and these hands made makeshift a microphone, yelled out
how a mouth once said “dead men can’t catcall” and
once your mouth asked for the extinction of all but the whites,
how routine for face to believe their voice, and it is then
when I do not feel love for you as I do another human,
nor respect or pity, or the anger that comes from calling in,
but the anger that spouts volcanic with the voices of those interned,
those detained, sing these fingers the call of a jailbird caw,
and that is when these hands formed themselves for you,
in protest and with malice all the same a mouth has this kind of magic,
watch as it turns a liberal to a fascist in the blink of an eye,
and they will say these things I do are barbaric,
how dark a light I shine through with these actions,
a mouth once said don’t fight violence with violence,
and another mouth stopped speaking violence with such a boom
after hit with a fist, words became a little quieter,
I can now hear the sound of my hands breathing,
and how timid this face looks with a kiss from a fist.
“teach me how to drive a machine to its ruin”
said the tires to the fire, and the fire spoke back,
“I want to be held in a way that disrupts traffic.”
Hundreds of thousands know the name of Richard Spencer only
after he caught hands with his jaw,
what bliss is this if not the world I am ready to live in,
for history to repeat itself in a way where we are unafraid
of biting the hands that feed us poison, and for this
the hand speaks to the mouth,
“I waited and saw, and an opportunity struck and so did I.”
If punching Nazis stops there from being more Nazis
I will punch until I can no longer swing my arms,
and then I will begin to bite, and when I can no longer bite,
I will ram the toothless, armless, mass of me into the oppressors,
and when I can no longer do that it will be because I am dead,
and the hands spoke to the mouth,
“sticks and stones may break your bones,
but for every bone I break, on my body and yours,
less words will be able to hurt me,
and for this I know that I can die at peace
knowing that for every time my arm swings
three more learn how to form a fist.”
MONSTER ENTERS FIRST SUPPORT GROUP MEETING
they sit down at the circle say,
once I was a human, had a human name that fit
into the mouth of myself like an apple and that name was
Once I was more than a thing wanted,
had a faith that someone would protect me,
a temple built to honor a savior
would surely save a thing like me.
Once, I was a human, had a human’s name that
I gave everyone like a blessing and that name was
Once I was wanted by a god.
Once I was wanted by a god who never knew
to ask for something first, how a praying thing
is so vulnerable and open to being taken by something holy.
How I was made a hole of.
Once, I used my human mouth to pray my name
to a god I believed in and that name was
Once I was wanted by a god I never prayed to,
and the one I had punished me rather than
the one to use my body as if it had any function
other than to survive, how I am not a breakable thing,
how I was turned into something that sheds
as if I did not know the way my skin could be
taken from me by the elements.
Now I am a monster with a human’s name that fits
into my mouth like an apple, the way I know the truth of myself,
and that name is still
ALAIN GINSBERG (they/them) is an agender writer and performer from Baltimore City whose work focuses on narratives of gender, sexuality, and mental health and the ways in which trauma informs, or skews them. Their work has been featured or is forthcoming in Shabby Doll House, Write About Now (Video), decomP, What Fresh Witch, Queen Mobs Tea House (Queen of Pentacles), and elsewhere. Outside of writing they tour the country performing in concerts, slams, living rooms, and caverns. They are a taurus. You can find more of their work on Facebook or Bandcamp. They tweet @anotherginsberg.