With a Petroleum Coating

The exoskeleton dries by the radiator. What is the usefulness of shells, as in putting them up to one’s ear to detect the poem? Isn’t it infringeable that we carry our mating rituals into teleology? Isn’t it lately that our mates don’t often insert parts? The problem, as if splashed onto canvas in a never-drying medium, isn’t it that we can be hurt from without as if by wifi, by rumor? By cell tower? By stork? Thanks for caring. The storks along the beach stand on one leg, and then slowly generously fly away, including me, like a teacher who warns against trying to make absent things present. What do all these little knobs on the console do? This one flies us straight into battle with a petroleum coating. This one parodies the last erotic feeling. This one entices us to have babies with the reader, sitting lax on a conveyor belt that suddenly falls off at the end into someplace decent. In your guest room, draped with necklaces, we feel thinner than a Mobius strip, real wolf fur rug inside and out, real antler chandelier. In your guest room we peel an alien tangerine.

More by Trace Peterson

Canyon of Heroines

This bag of crunchy Cheetos is making me thirsty. Good thing I picked up a Fanta orange soda on the way home just in case. Walking back, I couldn't help noticing how most of the neighborhood has been replaced by strange towering steel and plate glass structures. A man was lying across the sidewalk in front of one of them and asked me for money. Greece is being bullied by Germany holding it to a double standard. When they had the tickertape parade for the US Women's Soccer Team this week and said "Canyon of Heroines" on the radio I started to laugh and realized it wasn't funny. The guy at an adjacent table in the coffee shop was looking at me smokily for an hour like he wanted to do something to me all over the counter, and I sat poised anticipating an advance that never arrived. I have trans woman friends who desperately need hope and jobs and love and safety and family. I wish I could be twenty places at once and have the power to fix everything but in a stealth way so I wouldn't be just grabbing the spotlight. True Detective is a TV show that a lot of people seem to enjoy. I trained myself to speak at a higher base pitch every morning until it became quasi-permanent because that is how I know I do not depend on the medical establishment or strangers' willingness to imagine charity. Much of the street is submerged underwater due to the storm. That other salesman can assist you—I'm helping this young lady right now, he said, placing his hand on the small of my back. The entire auditorium of people staring me down was hostile but knew they couldn't show it in public except for occasional frown lines darting from between their eyebrows. Please stand clear of the closing doors. I can't breathe in this dress. I can't seem to figure out where that smell is coming from in the apartment. Gender identity or expression will not protect you from being fired in most employment situations nor does being a transsexual. Split a capsule of medication into smaller doses by opening, dividing, and mixing it among separate containers of a mushy food like applesauce. The Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed this week amid much controversy. Did I just write all that? History is transmisogynistic but it won't be the more of it there is. The beautiful woman suggested I put my bare legs across her lap in the dark so I did and she gently ran her fingers along them. Wheat germ is where the problems all started. Later you asked if you could put your arm around me on the train but there was a scary guy shouting at everyone in the subway car and I didn't want to provoke him. People I love are at risk of being violently harmed or murdered every day, or they suffer from suicidal urges because of how the world fails to see us as people in a million sharp pointy little ways. Welcome to the military. The three-panel dressing room mirror had a Busby Berkeley effect which gave me a little thrill but I might have just imagined it. I wish I knew how to code things with boolean operators. I wish I knew how to read philosophy. The x-ray machine operator kept repeating "STOP BREATHING NOW DON'T BREATHE" each time he activated the machine. #CaitlynJenner

The Valleys Are So Lush and Steep

I have not been having an easy HRT experience for a trans gal, especially when it comes to blocking testosterone so my body can develop properly in response to estrogen.

*

Spironolactone gave me brain fog, so to block T, I switched to Finasteride.

*

The blocker dose of Finasteride made me too sleepy to function, so I switched to Progesterone.

*

Progesterone had some nice effects but it made me loopy and had a kind of thought-freezing effect, so I switched to Dutasteride.

*

Dutasteride made me too sleepy to function and caused me to phase shift into a fourth dimension at unexpected moments, so I switched to Walzanone.

*

Walzanone helped ease off my body hair, but it gave me unanticipated telekenetic powers which would cause a table to fly crashing acrosss the room when I got upset with someone, so I switched to Benefiontin.

*

Benefiontin seemed to be working for a while and I could genuinely concentrate, until I slowly became aware that it was making my skin fluorescent green and stretchable over any nearby hardwood surfaces. Punk rock anamorphosis had ended long ago, so I switched to Penalzombion.

*

While I enjoyed the ultra-feminine high that Penalzombion enfaulked from my kinesthetic being, it had the unfortunate side effect of causing me to hate most poetry I hear, or maybe that was just poetry. In any case, the constant sore throat or what they call the "Penalzombion engorgement" became highly inconvenient when I needed to sing impromptu arias for job talks on composition theory. So I switched to Rubicon.

*

Though not technically a blocker, Rubicon had several advantages in terms of how it personified and mirrored my t-levels internally. A short-range tactical missile flew by in search of its drone-targeted recipient. Testosterone self-reflectiveness on Rubicon invaded my being on a coding level of intensity to the point where rows of shark teeth swallowed every time management skill I ever learned. There was no going back. I decided that Rubicon was too much of a simultaneously alienated and intimately ski mask experience. So I switched to Novascotia.

*

The best side effect of Novascotia was its remoteness. Though it made me feel slightly alienated around other poets, I did manage to get a lot of writing done. However, in the process I lost all sense of reality and missed my grant deadlines for the fourth time. A mouse ear grew out of my hand. Peach cobbler. So I switched to Nepotismapolitan.

*

With Nepotismapolitan I definitely engrotted some anti-testosterone connections in the entertainment world, which had me at an advantage when passing as entertainmentally female, but my pores became enormous. When I think back I wonder if Nepotismapolitan was taunting me the whole time. Gam tumescent wing growth polited out of the sinking vessel. Due to interaction warnings I couldn't eat too much processed food anymore and my T levels were still too high, so I switched to Wellmasteride.

*

I liked the feeling of cosmic omnipotence corresponding with complete and utter abjection that Wellmasteride gave me, being at once a unique delicate flower/snowflake and a humanistic reproconfection seeking air time like every other platelet in the bloodstream, but it made me inconveniently leery of discussions about trigger warnings and delaying puberty in children. Pang of detained weekend fixture turned permanent yawp. I stopped thugging around in my endocrine blotter with Wellmasteride, and instead turned to Jaimeleecuritsol.

*

Jaimeleecurtisol made me witty and urbane. Being around me was like an episode of female Frasier slightly sped up. But soon the crash happened and we were in a recession. Jaimeleecurtisol caused me to scream and scream at the horrible truth coming at me about how people really perceived my gender suddenly rushing at me around street corners. So I switched to Smallpondilaxone.

*

Smallpondilaxone made me feel big.
For a minute I contemplated calling an agent
to discuss my enormous very specialized coupon stash, but I
couldn't get out of bed. So next I tried Crepusculane.

*

Now the great thing about Crepusculane was that on this one I really felt like myself on five cups of coffee for a few minutes lugging a trampoline up the capital steps past the stone lions that guarded the secret to what's inside increasingly smaller panties I never held any responsibility for, a good place to do research. I made all kinds of appointments to publish poet things and attend everybody's readings in a stacker, almost steroid-like configuration demented with charm. But the hyper-concentration that Crepusculane offers caused me instead to stare at a Grecian Urn for days on end, transfixed by thoughts of lighting up and smoking the latest poet laureate or at least getting a medical prescription for him/her to become culturally all over me. Crepusculane rendered my t-levels nearly invisible as I lay swooning across a Chatterton velvet couch in my garret, but there was no one around but me to serenade, so I switched to Lesbiamine.

*

Lesbiamine caused .......................................... in peace talks ...........
...............................................................................................................
.............................. rankled tall girl spat juicer ............................ but
...............................................................................................................
......... looks at your spork ................... like a gorgon, tufts of ..........
...............................................................................................................
kissing us in the museum ....................................................................
....................... making me ................. attachment weekend blocker 
...............................................................................................................
my leg around your ..............................................................................
.................................. wetter, a death ................... bank holiday itch 
...............................................................................................................
clasped ……………………………………… in a restaurant booth ........
...... or vamp stamped .................. something chocolate ..................
...............................................................................................................
..............................anxiety being unsexy………………………..............
..................and you need lateness ……………….…………...................
destorying me .....................................................................................
.................................................................too intense...........................

like the crushed flower. I couldn't take all the ellipses anymore and they were intruding into my dissertation writing time, so I switched to Pastoralwenchtrin.

*

I think I am going to stick with Pastoralwenchtrin for awhile and see where this goes. It's quiet here and there are sheep and no wolves masquerading as bears climbing the hillside of an apple danish I bought from my student loan debt ceiling. As long as I pay the credit card bills by end of the month and get my name changed in time for the church basement sale, maybe I can find a way to live. As my body reaches a kind of equilibrium, I am trying to have as small a percentage of me as possible be fabricated as method acting and as great a possibility as a pink skull half-shaven skyline be real. The valleys are so lush and steep. How to end not wanting to be myself being not quite myself.

Exclusively on Venus

Roses are red / violets are transsexual / welcome to womanhood / now get to work honey

Roses are performative / violets are biological / I have very sensitive breasts / and so do your breasts

Roses are biological / you have the nicest skin / I can't stop kissing you / let's read more nondualistic queer theory

Roses are fed up / with our binary fetishes / I tricked my doctors / and stole all the medication to hide it in a cave and share it with other trans people

Roses have got me / up against the wall / kissing my neck / which is socially constructed to be a super hot strong feminist neck

Roses are violet / violets are roses / I really like you / I like you tube

Roses are born this way / violets have a lesbian streak / something about your dry sense of humor and our soft intertwined limbs / feels transcendently female

Roses are blue / violets are violet / roses are nonviolet / blue is bluenormative

Roses are from mars / violets had the whole surgery / setting up camp / exclusively on Venus

Roses have gone too far / not to be what girls are made of / I'm coming out / to my academic colleagues as a poet and I bet they will run away screaming

Roses are roses / violets are born this way / someone's got a hoard / of heteronormative transaffirmation porn you say?

Roses are cheeky / I want you to fuck me / drown violets like an accused witch / in your arms which feel like mine

Violets got a name change / roses changed a pronoun / we ate at a restaurant / and forgot to put the leftovers in the fridge

Roses are trochaic / violets have their original plumbing / let's march in a protest / then go home and we'll cook something delicious and eat it with a spork

Violets are permanent / roses are impermanent / thank you for becoming me / offering to embrace your form your fate

Flowerbeds are umbrellas / umbrellas are rubrics / I support your identification / and your disidentification

Men are from women / roses are from Jupiter / women are from men / I can't tell which is softer, your lips or this pillow or the snow descending gracefully outside

Related Poems

Tender Buttons [A Light in the Moon]

A LIGHT IN THE MOON

A light in the moon the only light is on Sunday. What was the sensible decision. The sensible decision was that notwithstanding many declarations and more music, not even notwithstanding the choice and a torch and a collection, notwithstanding the celebrating hat and a vacation and even more noise than cutting, notwithstanding Europe and Asia and being overbearing, not even notwithstanding an elephant and a strict occasion, not even withstanding more cultivation and some seasoning, not even with drowning and with the ocean being encircling, not even with more likeness and any cloud, not even with terrific sacrifice of pedestrianism and a special resolution, not even more likely to be pleasing. The care with which the rain is wrong and the green is wrong and the white is wrong, the care with which there is a chair and plenty of breathing. The care with which there is incredible justice and likeness, all this makes a magnificent asparagus, and also a fountain.

Fragment of a Bride

Relative to status and state, one often finds the strategic depiction of an implicated myth: man v. god, fire, female, followed by a beeline drawn to the end of the garden. Outside, the concrete sky and a clamor that might be described as a deafening mechanical distraction, the basic rhythm of which has been set in advance to match a harsh song that goes like this: metalwork-always-outlives-fabric. That mess of a crumpled net dress at the bottom of a wardrobe might be a refusal to accept the notion that possibility is something one puts on to go out: a woman for example could still wear the dress but where would she go looking like that? It would be an error to describe her as someone who doesn’t know how she is supposed to act, when in actual fact she is acting. Her eyes are open and she is acting like someone looking into a box of scattered catastrophes, saying to the man next to her, “Look at these. Which one would you like?”

The Hills, 11

“Left this city for a day,” sings The Feeling. Shot of two men from the waist down on a sunny sidewalk. One in surf shorts holds a blue Powerade; one in white dress pants walks a Lhasa Apso. Shot of a crowd of people on the sidewalk from the waist up. Shot of two blonde girls in pink tank tops and short white shorts, walking toward the camera. They are slightly out of focus. Their bodies are fit and tan and they are wearing clogs. Close-up of a black stretch limo with a white Playboy bunny emblem on the side. The limo passes the camera. A tan BMW passes the camera. “You took me southwards on a plane and showed me Spain,” continues the song. A drilling sound joins the song. Shot of the outside of a beige apartment complex. The sign says: “Heidi and Spencer’s Apartment, Hollywood, CA.” Shot of a blender whirring with purple liquid inside. A man’s tan hand presses the top of the blender down. The machine is industrial. Next to the blender are a blue plastic cup, a white container of protein Milk mix, and a bottle of Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids. Behind the blender are two bottles of champagne. Wider angle shot of the blender and the man with the hand. His hair is curly blonde and he is wearing a black t-shirt with unreadable white letters. White letters appear in the right hand bottom corner of the screen. They say: “Spencer, Heidi’s Boyfriend.”  “I liked,” begins a girl’s voice. Shot of Heidi’s face. She is not wearing makeup. The screen says “Heidi.” “All your friends last night,” Heidi continues in a sing-song voice. She bats her eyelashes and shrugs. Shot of Spencer in the kitchen. He is looking down at the counter and doing something below the camera’s view. “You know, they love you,” he says, smiling at the counter. Shot of Heidi. She has on a grey hoodie with a navy rose print. “They seem very nice, all of them,” she says. She waves some papers mostly out of the camera’s view. Behind her is a large flat screen TV, turned off. Shot of Spencer. “Oh, Frankie invited us to his birthday party at Les Deux tonight,” he says. There is a sound of papers shuffling. Shot of Heidi on a cream couch. The couch appears to have a raised floral print. Heidi holds letters in her hand. “Oh yeah?” she says. Heidi shuffles the letters around. Several of them appear to be opened. Shot of Spencer. He stares at the bottle of Liquid Aminos he is holding in front of his face. “Is um Lauren going?” Heidi asks. Spencer puts the bottle down. Shot of Heidi. She looks at her French-manicured fingernails, then makes a fist and twirls it. Shot of Spencer. It is now possible to read the letters on his shirt. They say “Innovation Management.” “Uh she actually just called me, I just missed her call uh uh I’ll call her back and ask her and see what she says,” he says, smiling. His teeth are white. He looks down at something he is doing on the counter. “I wish that Audrina,” Heidi interrupts. Shot of Heidi on the couch. “—and Lauren would have come last night,” Heidi finishes. She twirls her hand, mostly out of the frame.  Shot of Spencer in the kitchen. He is moving around a lot. “I mean I totally accept that she doesn’t like me,” Spencer says. Shot of Heidi. “Yeah,” says Heidi, grimacing. “But she shouldn’t take that out on you,” continues Spencer. “I know,” says Heidi, furrowing her brow. “Our friendship shouldn’t suffer from it,” she mumbles, looking down. Punky guitar music begins. “There’s something wrong here,” sings Cori Yarckin. Shot of Spencer in the kitchen, hands pressed to the counter. He looks to the side then to the front again. He opens and shuts his mouth. Shot of Heidi. She shakes her head. Her eyes shift back and forth.