THE CRIMES WE WERE FORCED TO COMMIT 

when the walls closed in we were huddled against them
      trying to sleep
      being crushed
      told to keep our mouths shut

I listened to them and tried to keep it shut
      I didn’t want to
      tell you that
      the crushing would hurt 

they told me that I knew what I had done
      I didn’t understand
      I hadn’t changed overnight
      they knew it would take time

they told me no one should become a cockroach
      it wasn’t natural
      I didn’t open my mouth
      you’re not vermin you wouldn’t understand

I never asked to commit this crime; I never wanted
      Youth, the Criminal
       we were all the criminal
       that we must now crush

when the walls closed in they held up a mirror
      it reflected a cockroach
      that tired, loathsome bug
      it reflected you too 

 

THE FLOOR IN OUR HOUSE 

forks in spoon drawer
    strewn across that carpet
       with patterns and flecks of paint
          When we painted too rushed

strewn across that carpet
         your body spread out
      when we painted too rushed
            the walls close in

         your body spread out
               just rip it up
           the walls close in
                 we huddle against them

                just rip it up
    with patterns and flecks of paint
                   we huddle against them
forks in spoon drawer 

 

WHEN WE SAT SILENT HOLDING EACH OTHER ON THE BEACH

I sat and
    yet I sit
       on the sand
          course between my
             thighs and sharp
                as wind blows
                   blue velvet dust
                      stings my eyes
                         it’s going to
                            eat you whole
                              you will
be blue velvet           drift
  on the wind
    stinging someone else
       it kills me
          to see you
             turn to hollow
                boned corpse eating
                   stale bread on
                      cold sand grey
                         beach gulls stripping
                            your sweet
                               skin 

 

ROPE

[mumble awkwardly] 

I bought that rope
to hang my dread
on a normal day 

                                  did they block me?
the familiar taste
of wood rot
and shaving cream
                                  is that blood or chocolate?

[while reading this poem consider
I will be dying some day
And so will you
And you]

save up for something nice;
give it away
when it stops working
                                  just go without me. 
this is the start
            of something awful
            swaying to Sufjan
                                  I hate how I make me feel. 

[think about existing
as two different
people
or three]

talk about the rope
            monolithic in my room
            monument to hesitation
                                    look at what I posted. 
I walk that rope
             but it’s not me; 
             my masked false doppelgänger
             on a normal day
                                     I’m sorry, goodbye. 

[visualize thick black rope
silhouetted against
white walls] 


JESS LIEBELT is a twenty-seven year old poet, student, and transgender woman from Adelaide, Australia. While spending much of her life as a prose writer, she became interested in poetry after coming out as transgender. Her work is inspired by the poetry of Richard Siken, Charles Reznikoff, and Marie Howe, as well as authors like Margaret Atwood, Leslie Feinberg, and Cormac McCarthy. She can be found on Tumblr at jessliebeltpoetry.tumblr.com and on Twitter at @jessliebeltpoet