ISSUE  1   2   3   4   SUBMIT

Three Poems

Kevin Killian

Ballad of the Little Boy who
Began to Identify as a Pop Girl

Did you ever hear      of Gwen Araujo      born

Eddie Junior, and how      in this godforsaken East Bay town

jumping with joy

she looked into big bag of gender tied to her back

probing, pulled one out, tried it on, liked it

A happy child      but growing up in Newark

the ark of the new      that affectless bunch from school      and Gwen,

named after Gwen Stefani no doubt, penetrating

gaze like an eagle but did you hear       the mother, Sylvia

speaking to those biological girls

They met on the street      just hopping down to play some

dominoes, how ironic, what, that sort of placid game for kids

and maybe old mobsters like Marlon Brando, aged?

OK, so the boys liked her well enough

the first time around      then the party of October 3

I would never forget that one girl

who ran out and said, hey everyone, she’s got a dick

nor forgive that girl

but who was it after all

who stabbed and killed her with shovels

a frying pan and a can of tomatoes

not girls but      boys

you know the world can see us

in a way that's different from who we are

then just       bury her in Silver Fork

name of etiquette      the silver spoon

trope of privilege      the boys and their rope

knocked the wall down

who knocked the wall down with gashed skin skull

then just      well, somebody talked

didn’t he

gender variant youth

angel risen up out of mist and a sort of Jennifer Lopez urban

style, wings of desire      and—this drive for I’m real and


               Pray not to die on this Pisgah blossoming with violets.
                    Pray to live through.
                    If you catch a whiff of violets from the darkness of the shadow of man
                    it will be spring in the world,
                    it will be spring in the world of the living.

                    —DH Lawrence, “Craving for Spring”

I know you like it like this, I know
you’re feeling me, spectral
knowledge grips me like mummy case
in the tomb of Howard Carter, enraptured,
so that, pink ray peering through stone door,
cracked open a ray,
penetrates Pharaoh brain,
like the third eye some people hang on their foreheads
I know, I know, I know
William Burroughs, murmuring, I’ve heard of you,
gave me the cold shivers,
I know, I know, I know
Aishwarya Rai, said Julia Roberts, the most
beautiful woman in the world

with that thing on her forehead

I’m not the same
you know you like it like this

the gesture is, to pat jewel onto her forehead where
somehow it sticks

Magisterial stick light

Burroughs looks up at me like some kind of lichen
Later, Mark Ewert tells him,

My friend in San Francisco was your
biggest fan till you

he had that heroin chic

Till you shot him that Spanish moss glance
out from under your hoary eyebrows, tangled wire

And now he’s like every other liberal
You killed your wife, you’re such a


I know, I know, I know

I’m not the same

Passing behind Bill I caught a whiff of
violet spray, scented igloo
in the wake of the dead

Pray not to die on this Pisgah
blossoming with violets Lawrence cried out
lying there coughing up

blood on the plowboy

He, my first student in the row,
made of clocks
ticking in violet thunders
I would pray not to die
still craving for spring,
first student in the snow
tied up like tinsel with this
knowledge thing that seizes me up so

Later when sated, I played him two numbers
by Kylie Minogue
his eyelids tighter than Dodge engine,

asshole trembling like the new leaf sign
that hangs over Market Street
in the spring breeze and creaks

hear it

On the Third Day

All beauty must die,
so, with a rose in his hand, he knelt
put a rock in my fist

In about the 10th block of Mission Street,
where the wild roses grow,
swimming uptown where I could be like a man

He was somehow out of luck, in a truck, teaching at Cabrillo
doing hand stands
now he’s uptown

On the second day a flower so scarlet and blue
fell out of my eyes while I looked at your shoes
Demure as a trinket, and similar to

those hot plates people keep on her desk
switch on the light when the man
really pounds that ass

And my trembling subsided after the earthquake
of 1989 kickoff to the Bay Area world series
and say it ain’t so Joe

Was feeling it down to my holy roll
it wasn’t a twinge
more he hit me, and it felt like a

a muttered word
if I show you the roses will you

Put a rose in my teeth
I know you’re feeling me cause you
like it like this

Can of tomatoes
frying pan slam
the wall caves in

I know, I know, I know
he knelt down and
“they called me the wild rose
but my name was Eliza Day”