two poems

by KB

How To Identify Yourself With a Wound (circa 2017)

To the black spot on the vein of my left arm for the weekly plasma donations
To the brown scar under my chin from running too fast on a freshly mopped floor
To the altar I called my dorm bed to K who fought her sanity to sleep next to me in
To the poems I’ve started & stopped for femmes with dyed fades & nails plunged in bubblegum pink
To dollar tree black nail polish for always being there
To the top coat for staining my favorite jacket
To the scars blotched all over my legs from scratching mosquito bumps
To being a “tomboy” in elementary & middle school
To the manuscripts I didn’t finish to the fragments that choked them out
To the stretch marks on my stomach & forearms & shoulders
To S for being able to wear tampons to Matt for introducing me to clowns
To the animals of past lovers I miss more than the lovers
To D & H & A & all the other what if’s minimized to a timeline
To my people that have transitioned to another celestial plane
To you, the witness of what happiness does to the brain
To T for loving me though he didn’t know how
To the brain for being kind enough to not collapse
To the body for housing a trauma that is timid
To the holes in my jeans to wide hips to my hips & wounds for always being uncontainable


How to Identify Yourself with a Wound (circa 2007)

& nobody could have predicted this prickly upper-lipped
cornrow-rocking demiqueer picture it A 12-year-old
Texan always dressed in pastels I was
sporting feathered eyelashes from clucking
one too many a chickenhead Always
palm down on any school lunch table available 12-12:30pm
A busted pen periodically splashed up my long white
uniform shirt Yo mama gon’ kill you & if she did
I wouldn’t blame her Honestly
it’s best to identify yourself with a wound
Preferably before it even happens That way
when it’s ready to puncture its permanent self in you
you won’t flinch or run or howl too much
& too loud because who wants sirens
blaring in the hood for any old weekday trauma
Let me start with the obvious The complicated
relationship with home Though I don’t ever want
home to be jeopardized Besides I’m 12
Too young to hold a story no one listens to
Too busy beating on lunchroom tables
wondering what it takes to be a little less visible

KB [they/them] is a Black queer nonbinary poet, editor, and educator currently residing in Austin, TX. They’ve received fellowships from Texas Christian University, Lambda Literary, Winter Tangerine, The Hurston/Wright Foundation, The Speakeasy Project, and UTSA’s African American Literatures and Cultures Institute. Their poetry appears or is forthcoming in a number of publications including Foglifter Press, The Cincinnati Review, The Shade Journal, and Kallisto Gaia Press’ 2020 Texas Poetry Calendar. When they’re not blessing stages or writing pages, they serve as a Teaching Artist for Creative Action and the Austin Library Foundation, Curator/Host of the open mic/reading series Austin Interfaces, Assistant Editor for Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Associate Poetry Editor for fields Magazine, and proud member of Lenguas [email protected] Writers Collective.

Artwork by: Pawel Szvmanski