Published on Academy of American Poets (


Hushed whispers in an undisclosed room
            Take it out of the girl
a child, boyish in nature             their smallness magnified.

Outcasted—the soft bodied animal you are
determined unruly animalia,
                                                   what survives inflation & inertia?

The body is a set of complex feedback systems
nothing is as it appears
                                                   the coexistence of a beard & breasts
                                                   evidence of the body’s willfully defiant nature

The body’s resilience amid the promise of perish:
                                              somehow the child survives their own hand
                                              the day’s weary edge inverted toward grace

A child, boyish in their nature           & barrel shaped
            survives sedimented against the residue
            of dunes, soil, leaf litter,       & the bodies of a lesser

What couldn’t be excised
            your boyish nature
            your untamed phylum,         your small heart pulsing loud
                                                        notes against the night.


Copyright © 2020 by Jari Bradley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 8, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I was inspired by the life cycle of Tardigrades, a phylum of water dwelling micro animals. They are incredibly resilient, being able to withstand radiation, starvation, dehydration, starvation, etc. The unruly nature of its existence reminds me of the black queer child cultivated in a society that seeks to destroy such a child. Writing through abjection has provided another means of staging the resilience of my own body growing up in San Francisco, and the seemingly smallness of such a life.”
Jari Bradley


Jari Bradley

Jari Bradley is a San Francisco native and an MFA candidate at the University of Pittsburgh.

Date Published: 2020-01-08

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