Gender Of The Poet, As Evaluated Through First & Second Derivative Tests

by Teddy L. Friedline

I. f(x) = gender, as I currently experience it changes by the day discontent I do not call myself genderfluid lest my scratching brain latch onto it and use it as a spiral to throw me into what genders can I diagnose myself with agender or neutrois? what is the difference between the presence of neutrality and the absence of a presence? nonbinary or genderqueer? blue-purple or green-orange? I need a list fully calculated of every gender I will experience I need to be ready like how the eggs in my ovaries count themselves off each time my uterus sheds its cicada-skin lining but no let’s stop remember what I have learned gender is an experience comfort with a label is more important than its accuracy threatening to run away won’t make your parents call you the right name I have found an identity I can sit with I have found a name I can feel with I have found pronouns that don’t feel wrong I can rest now II. f’(x) = gender, as I have expressed it Critical values: x = cicada x = fabrication x = parent III. Maximum: cicada I have constructed a version of myself for motherhood sometimes she is a cicada she begets begets she is a mythology of veiny thin wings and of children who all look different who all look exactly like her propagation mourner the connection between Mother Bug and myself is our shared cradle-womb the place I am a woman ends at the place I can construct within me I cannot force myself to hate IV. Minimum: fabrication Some days I compress myself arrange flesh beneath nylon pulled tight I hide behind loose jeanfronts at thirteen I made a penis for myself from balled-up socks washed shame off them in the laundry I trap curls beneath a baseball cap that’s a penis if I want it to be I can pee standing up if I curl the brim stop the cicada-skin falling if I fold the hat part and tuck it within me my manhood is a construction canvas and thread held in my pants I anticipate the moment it will fall out of my Jockeys V. Neither: parent when I tell my father I understand how hard this is for him I’m lying he hidhe means when he says he doesn’t see any guy in me he’s been buying me clothes from the men’s sections for years he thought it would make me love him more he bought me almost anything those years I spent my time climbing in and out of the gender pool wading in before scraping my stomach trying to climb out maybe I have done such an effective job concealing my own ungender around him washing the pride makeup off on the metro home leaving trans emotions at the door not because he won’t approve he won’t see them right the way they turn in the light is different his sit in his lap next to the tub of pimento cheese VI. f”(x) = gender, as I have moved through it Critical values: x = in relation x = Robin Hood (1973) VII. Point of inflection [concave up to concave down]: in relation really we never talked about this the place we met was pronouns if they preferred a label, they used genderqueer I call myself nonbinary tank tops masturbation trans bodies corsets binders we never talked about how did they see themselves in relation to me how is it different from how I saw myself in relation to them and I don’t mean me on top of them their hair pulled back my Fisher-Price: My First Lingerie the relation of above to below within to without my presence to their transposed presence I mean how did we see each other? did it differ from how we see ourselves? when they hold theirs up to the window what pattern does it make on the floor? do I touch it when I hold up mine? still?  VIII. Point of inflection [concave down to concave up]: Robin Hood (1973) I hate to admit it my father’s question got me thinking I have scoured my childhood I cannot find a piece of evidence to show him say I always loved boy’s toys I was dysphoric and I didn’t have a name for it I didn’t know I was different for that I knew I was different because kids called me a devil worshipper not gay not a tranny I have this though a fascination with soft-drawn foxes the sound of Phil Harris’s voice the roll of the r’s KING Rrrrichard? not wanting to be Maid Marian

This poem first appeared in Yes Poetry.

*To read this poem in its intended format, please view from a desktop. 

back to University & College Poetry Prizes