Published on Academy of American Poets (

It Is Important To Be Something

This is like a life. This is lifelike.
I climb inside a mistake
and remake myself in the shape
of a better mistake—
a nice pair of glasses
without any lenses,
shoes that don’t quite fit,
a chest that always hurts.
There is a checklist of things
you need to do to be a person.
I don’t want to be a person
but there isn’t a choice,
so I work my way down and
kiss the feet.
I work my way up and lick
the knee.
I give you my skull
to do with whatever you please.
You grow flowers from my head
and trim them too short.
I paint my nails nice and pretty
and who cares. Who gives a shit.
I’m trying not to give a shit
but it doesn’t fit well on me.
I wear my clothes. I wear my body.
I walk out in the grass and turn red
at the sight of everything.


Copyright © 2015 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Used with the permission of the author.


Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is a trans woman poet and the author of I Don’t Want to Be Understood (Alice James Books, 2024), There Should Be Flowers (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016), and i’m alive / it hurts / i love it (Boost House, 2014).

Date Published: 2018-03-19

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