Mayhem Literary Journal is proudly sponsored by Te Whare Wananga o Waikato, The University of Waikato

Irrational Animal Cross-Dresses - essa may ranapiri

irrational animal is born in a hospital kicking the walls with a bruised body
                the premature ward is sweating sweet with anxiety 
                take a shower and hope the kid don’t die while
                you wait for the water to warm 
irrational animal eats liquid and chews the air 
                while turning yellow under a lamp 
                curling like pages

irrational animal moves from boy 
                to girl 
                to nothing 
 
irrational animal cross-dresses everyday  
                isn’t sure wearing a dress is cross-dressing 
                feels everything leave their body 
                curdled 

irrational animal becomes a cross to carry
                deep-fried and served with a freshly squeezed guilt  
                feels it roll in their gut when they are referred to as brother sister fathers
                eyes

irrational animal isn’t related to any species in that way 
                isn’t related to themselves anywhere
                will cross 
                over with 
                no sand in
                their hair
                nor glass
                in their shoulder
                blades
 irrational animal carries groceries home 
                    the loops of plastic pulled taut to tear at the skin of their knuckles 
                when cars slow down the animals inside their mobile coffins 
                           make spitting noises 
                           from their fuming throats 
                unfold dated copies of the binary for dummies
                           animals roll windows down and point 
                           at 

irrational animal as wrong wrong wrong wrong
                optical illusion of human rights
                the sun cascaded and spilt through
                the lens of platitude  

irrational animal spends their nights writing to
                woolf in orlando’s clothing
                sending letters to themselves
                about being and alone and
                a dark room

irrational animal sings a song made of split pockets and chipped greenstone 
                a repetition of why          the body really gets cut up about it 

irrational animal eats the corners of evangelical pamphlets when they are nervous 
                          not golden tablet nor wafer melt but a self-made protestantism
                          letting luther nail ninety-five theses to their body 
                          and promising an even split
irrational animal is scared  
                                that they 
                                                are trapped in 
                                                                a grammar of repetition

irrational animal is the roar leaping fragmented from the throat of utter 
                animal agitation 
                                is a werewolf with a straight razor
                                is a unicorn with horn cracked to the crown
                                is a seahorse with no saddle drowning 
 
is only a word   shaped like a circle     no oxygen inside its pages   fragments graceful   meaningless  ornamental   hung like a body on a clothes rack    stacked like brittle-pick-up-sticks in the brain stem          irrational animal is dying like an irrational animal barking fuck you for the all the stars     to ignore 

hovered over the surface broken - essa may ranapiri

your painting of the scene was bleed-all-over 
great apes of all kinds 
lying down in car parks 
their hot bodies meshing into the tarmac
a paradise of mangled wrecks
part with the self in the clover
of rusting axles and  

I play on a canvas of tortoise shells 
pressed onto rocks 
they never left the garden 
it was too big to leave 
the angels disappointed when removing their own underwear 

Contributor's Note

(Ngaati Raukawa | takataapui; they/them/theirs) is a poet from Kirikiriroa,  Aotearoa /  they have words in Mayhem, Poetry NZ, Brief, Starling, THEM and POETRY Magazine / their first book of poetry is expected in 2019 from VUP / they will write until they're dead

 

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