Trans Panic Contrapuntal[1]

I wanted to kiss a boy                                     like paring the skin’s secrets

on the throat                                                      while clawmarks hid my razor-burn

not the soft, smooth neck                                the plum that his hands yearned

but the protruding, tough core                     hinted at peach stubble

of a boy’s throat                                                not-boy, not-girl, but dead-end both

the part named after                                       him repenting as want’s sinner

the very first boy                                              whose mouth I devastated

and the stupid fruit                                          I ached to feel him bite

his girlfriend                                                     to follow where I tread; that shame

made him eat                                                    the pit still lodged inside 

[1] Lefthand text is drawn from “Race to the Tree” by Chen Chen.


Reversed House Cleansing
After Jihyun Yun

Unstart the laundry and dishwasher. Remove stained clothes and let pots languish in the sink. Confetti scraps of broccoli and pasta back across your scattered plates. The ghost will shriek—ignore her. Re-refuse all the trash next, sprinkle crumbs along the floor. Discount the spectral drafts that breeze her growing protest. Discount her urged compulsions. Take cartons from the fridge and let their expiration waft. And now, put back the words. Squeeze sorry past tight lips, gulp its nauseating weight. Jam every are you sure? back in your jaws till all around you’s silence. Chew up memories of repeat and spit out intrusive thoughts. Next you’ll address the ghost. Demand she take back flinches, fidgets, archives of the counted hours. Persist here. Pester with returns but do not glance across her shade. Rather, stay focused on your hands, for progress hinges on what’s next. Kill the spirit and remurder her, unritual. Set fire to hoarded receipts and let gray smoke fill the room. Let smoke dragnet her, muffle howls. Run ceiling fans on high and scatter her to nothing. To what’s unlearned, what cannot haunt you now. From here you’ll start all over, obsessed only with potential.

CD Eskilson is a trans poet, editor, and translator from Los Angeles. Their work appears in the Offing, Pleiades, Ninth Letter, and they are a 2022 Best of the Net finalist. CD is assistant poetry editor at Split Lip Magazine. They are an MFA candidate at the University of Arkansas.


Photography by: Jason Anderson

two poems

by CD Eskilson

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