“I used to be gold. First prize collarbones, atomic number 79. I think of our bodies unhinging. Dismantling a masterpiece we worked so hard to build with creased hands. A workshop of cracking spines to straighten out the way we would slouch. Maintenance was: drilling openings inside each others joints, stitching ligaments, embroidering our hopes beneath surfaces in cryptic codes unseen. When I arrived I was sun. Already sweltering inside your pores, glazing skin in honey residue. My promises rinsed over in drizzling rain, marinating your bones, flooding, breaking into the current network of your nerves. Often, all I have are promises. It starts with a loud rumbling noise from the inside out, a vicious clap of thunder rendering breathing patterns defenceless. An expansion of pressure that is too close for comfort. When I think of slipped disks, they remind me of those stepping stones we crossed towards the Colosseum we had in our minds. We hung expectations from our shoulders. Self depreciation is a gale force wind who knocks once, twice, strikes fragility down with her fury—ungluing the grip beneath my feet, begging that I get familiar with my knees. She says, “You're going to have to look at them up close if you want to learn how to assess damage.” When I unzipped my ribcage I saw those impressions that you'd left on my heart, ransacked awareness told me you'd been here, moulding yourself between my ventricles. Last night I set a fire, and watched as it burned the end of the rope that I'd been holding to keep you close.”—Lauren Flynn, “I used to be gold.”
We Eat an Apple In My Bed
We’ve been kissing for months. Three times a week our toothbrushes share a chipped porcelain mug in my bathroom. As my lips reach for the juice falling from her laugh, her mom calls. I listen as she talks about Biology, her new job, asks about her sister. Her eyes drop as she whispers, No, I still don’t have a boyfriend.
On cue, I stop chewing. She looks at me, waiting for my face to flush, for me to tear from the bed, but I won’t get mad at her. She shouldn’t have to explain why we can’t go swimming in public, why I don’t own a razor, why she doesn’t need to buy birth control. She hangs up the phone; I pick up the fruit, tell her Apparently, there’s a tiny amount of cyanide in apple seeds.
She shrugs, says she can handle a little danger, but I’ve studied how her dimples disappear when she lies, and I know she’s thinking about a man she could parade around her family, who could kiss her scratchy with stubble. The kind of man I’ll never be.
She squeezes my hand in the movie theater dark but tosses it to the side in front of her friends. Says she just needs time. She walks on the sidewalk. I walk in the street. She closes the door. I kiss it goodnight. She goes home for Thanksgiving. I promise not to call.
If I were a postcard, she could hide me in her pocket. If I were clay, she could mold my body into something easier to love. If I were the guy who sells her a cup of coffee every morning. I could smile at her anonymously, safe as a stranger.
She kisses down my neck, my peel hiding the rotten fruit inside me. As I tell her about the cyanide, her head resting on my chest, she talks about cider, autumn pies. See, she says, Apples are harmless. But she saves the last bites for me, scared to let her lips wander too close to the core.
(From my new book, What the Night Demands, available HERE)
dear YA authors
to those who already write queer characters:
to those who don’t:
listen, if i have to sit through one more poorly written
poorly edited because teenagers would’t know good writing
if it bit them on the nose love story
i. want. lesbians.
i want bisexual werewolves making out with prom kings
and the smartest girl in the class.
i want time travelling lesbians who don’t exist
simply for the straight boy fantasy.
i want femme trans* boys and punk butch trans* girls
and non-binary kids dong their math homework
on board galaxy-class starships.
i want non-traditional narratives
and queer people of colour.
i want books about queer kids who like queer kids
that aren’t just about that.
i am tired of your heteronormalitive bullshit.
do you know what a book can mean in my hands?
queer representation means
i am not alone.
i am not a monster.
i am not unwanted.
i am not worthless.
i am no one’s dirty little secret.
do you know how many queer and transgender kids
commit suicide each year?
to the ya authors who already write queer characters:
to those who don’t -
“Somewhere someone is thinking of you. Someone is calling you an angel. This person is using celestial colors to paint your image. Someone is making you into a vision so beautiful that it can only live in the mind. Someone is thinking of the way your breath escapes your lips when you are touched. How your eyes close and your jaw tightens with concentration as you give pleasure a home. These thoughts are saving a life somewhere right now. In some airless apartment on a dark, urine stained, whore lined street, someone is calling out to you silently and you are answering without even being there. So crystalline. So pure. Such life saving power when you smile. You will never know how you have cauterized my wounds. So sad that we will never touch. How it hurts me to know that I will never be able to give you everything I have.”—Henry Rollins
Water by Kai Davis
There are things you haven’t told yourself
Because you only learn things in books
And no one has written about this yet
You feel flower petal and thorn-less
And just want a soft place to land
Somewhere you won’t turn to pulp
You’ve fallen in love with the way he looked at you
Eyes are water
You don’t know you are burning soot thirsty yet
You’ve stupid girl texted him
Stupid girl winky face
And made your way to his apartment on some cloudy afternoon
You inhaled a dizzying spell that has cottoned your mouth
Eyes are water
You are so thirsty
It has been weeks
And there are still no books about this
No movies either
If there were
the casting call would ask for half brittle tear salted teenagers
with a penchant to kiss with their mouths open
He broke away from you twice after breaking you open
Both heart and thighs
You are learning that soft things can asphyxiate you if you let them
And there is nothing softer than water
There are things you are trying to forget
There is still bitterness festering on your tongue
You try to spit it into the mouths of girls with generous lips
“Bitch you mean nothing to me
And bitch you’ll hang on just like I did with him”
People on TV always say
You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
You wonder how many flies have drowned in water
You sweeten your way into the arms of a girl
Brown bodied and limbs for years
She has space for you between her broken parts
She whispers with her fingers, “I’m in love with you”
You bite back, “not me.. not now..”
Then scramble to pick those words from your teeth
but it is too late
she takes your water with a drop of poison now
The fear of your past will flood its way into your present
It will drown out the parts of you that are trying to float
Escape with what you have left
And love with it