Things As They Are

There can be no doubt about the peculiar nature of my gender
and the appearance it affects;
the curiosity it inspires is something I have patiently endured
and accepted.
Most will merely stare, only to remove their gaze
as soon mine should cross with theirs,
and some will persist beyond a reasonable glance
with dumb obliviousness of their impropriety.
Some are vicious provocateurs
who intrude upon the serenity of their victim’s mind
with a cruel remark or a threat of violence.
Years of experience have accustomed me to their occurrence,
having the dual effect of habituating and sensitizing my mind
to their poisonous purpose,
but the compassionate and comprehending love,
which I have received
in such abundance from my family and friends,
protects and secures my character
from the compelling imposition of petty malevolence.

Despite the strength of my resolve and the low regard
in which I hold my tormentors,
my composure sometimes falters under the weight
of frequent ridicule from strangers
and the fear that someone will one day follow through
on their threat or even take my life.
Though renewing my resolve is easy enough,
I cannot deny the effect these occasions have upon my senses
and the prolonged, and often hidden, impact
they continue to have.

The integrity of my androgynous identity has frequently been
the subject of praise
but it has also been the reason for my rejection.
The very first man who returned my affections did not
seem to mind at first
but over time he admitted to my awareness his discomfort
and his desire for a more masculine boyfriend.

It would be the first of several such disappointments.
Many other men, being heterosexual, can never love me,
so long as I remain male,
yet I have found myself falling for them
despite how bitterly aware I am of their apparent indifference.
The few men who have had any interest in me
will only contact me in secret
and, though they confess to love my body,
their interest stops there;
after all, men such as they merely want a piece of “auxiliary ass,”
a substitute for the girlfriend who refuses to be sodomized.

Though it does not entirely ameliorate my pain,
I feel far more comfortable in the androgynous category
than in any other
and have determined to embrace it bravely.
Strangers call me she but my friends call me he;
I often find my self-perception shifting freely between the two
and take delight in the intricacy of their interplay—
free to feel whole … and wholly myself
without the traditional gender dichotomy.

Strange Encounters of the Absurd Kind (or, Die Entfremdung des Individuums in der Gesellschaft)

If a friend is, as I am led to believe, a person whose company
one longs for,
then it is perhaps fair to say that I have few …
few who ask if I have some time to spend with them,
few whose thoughts I’d like to know,
few whose absence from my life would bring discontent.
Many of the people I have met I have never missed,
those I long to know I rarely see,
and the few I have loved rarely, if ever, loved me.
A tragedy unfolds each time I dare to compare my life
to another whose company is so widely desired.
Often now it seems to me that others are more needed than I;
and this, as far as I can tell,
is evidenced by the number of people they call their “friends.”

Once it was a habit, all too common to my disposition,
to wait in hopeful anticipation of someone reaching out to me,
but so seldom do such invitations come
that I have become motivated to seek out the company I desire
of my own accord,
yet the messages I send rarely receive the reaction I require.

Some will respond only to confirm their indefinite unavailability
and some do not respond at all,
which leads me to feel like any solicitation is an importunity;
and when those who I like most, counted up, come only to a few,
the loss is even more devastating and sad.
When the life I live is centered only on introverted purpose,
involving little else than the fulfillment of my own needs,
I find myself lacking a great deal more.
When I cannot merge my life, my needs, with those of others
I feel truly alone.

At parties, or other social gatherings, where every other person
is well engaged in conversation with another
and I am left on the peripheries,
silently observing the spectacle,
the fullest extent of my participation is a simple sequence
of response,
of nodding, smiling, and laughing
only at the appropriate moment;
and if I remain thus employed for too long
I begin to feel less involved
and less enthused by what others experience directly.
My “self” demands explanation and quickly resolves
to find the reason for its problems
but the expostulations of fear are suppositious at best.

My mind shifts through various emotions as fluidly
as the dialogues I listen to.
I can enjoy being silent for a while but I want to actively engage
in other people’s lives.
I’m afraid that if I don’t I will quickly lose favor
among my friends,
to be forgotten and surpassed by others.

When their company consistently includes less of mine
I fear they are intentionally excluding me,
the thought of which fills me with dread.
When I cannot cut through the conversation and speak,
I feel disconnected from them
and truly alone.

The savage image of lacerated flesh flashes before my eyes
and I instantly recall the quick rush of warm blood
that once, but briefly, flowed freely from my left arm.
Instantaneously I fear making the same mistakes
I made before and the inevitable setback they entail.
I don’t want to lose my grasp on the world
and all that I hold dear …
to alienate those I love most with peculiar, minor defects
or frighten potential friends with embarrassing improprieties,
but with the faltering of my senses,
by the crippling force of insecurity,
I am thrust into a labyrinthine world of feeling
inhabited only by monstrous thoughts
and where the only sanctuary
from the frightening things outside is a dreadful oubliette.

Sitting alone in my room, leisurely attending to the same
solitary activities that occupy most of my time
I wonder why it is that I, unlike others,
receive so few solicitations while they entertain so often.
In the absence of company, I speak aloud
and pace about my room,
delivering to no one but myself lectures on topics
of any sort or kind and discussing them at length
until I tire my voice and mind.
Dusk brings delight, for at last the day is done,
and whatever thoughts that may be troubling me
are removed from consciousness … one by one.

What I fear most when I’m alone and longing
is not necessarily being wholly worthless
but the possibility that I will be disqualified by necessity,
regardless of any actual personal value,
and declared … superfluous.
When others make new friends easily while I struggle to feel
anything more than a minute interest in my peers,
I worry about my capacity to relate.
What does it take for me to make friends?!

The action of the drama rises yet again and the labyrinth
in which it is staged is growing even darker.
All passages take me in the same direction as before,
towards the wrongful vindication of my worst fears.
I do not trust my senses here;
what they tell me may well be a lie,
but even this (I know) cannot last.
Every journey to this void ends
with the serendipitous discovery of a subterranean river,
from which I drink the liquid of Lethe
and recover with renewed resolve,
feeling as though nothing has ever troubled me;
I am strangely optimistic about what paths
I may take to positively impact my future state
and confidant of the methods at my disposal.

Among the many relational possibilities come a variety of types,
each differing in form, function, and orientation;
but despite their shared effect of fulfilling
the fundamental need for love, each serves an individual role.
The designation of “friend” is a most misleading
vernacular trend
and if I fail to recall what I now know about the unique qualities
that determine the appropriate nature of any given relationship
I will once again be left to the mercy
of fearful misapprehensions.

There are those I like more than most and many
I could easily live without
but all in all I do not need too many people demanding my time
to feel that I am needed, appreciated, and loved.
In times of doubt I remind myself of the potential
my past never had
and how much I have grown;
I think of the moments when friends were glad to see me,
and the one man who, unique among all others,
fills my life with the greatest love I know.

A Fragment

The fine box, all gilt and varnished redwood, defies my pleasure
by instantaneously turning to stone;
weighing heavily in my hands, it pulls me ever deeper into the ocean.
In panic, I try to remove my hands
and save myself from certain death
but I cannot resist its magnetic pull
as it compels me inextricably into unfathomable depth.

Cause and Consequence

A relationship never ends on formal terms alone.

With false fortitude, I listened politely as he eagerly recited
the various praises and fine attributes of his new lover
and secretly felt an intense, sickening sensation,
in the pit of my stomach,
far worse than any other pain I incurred on his behalf.
For fear of exciting his resentment, I forbore all protestations
and suffered the final injury he would ever inflict upon me.

In a moment of jealous rage!,
I drove the knife as deeply as its short length could allow
and brought forth from the wound a steady stream of warmest blood.
Despite the horror of my actions, I felt neither pain nor distress,
and was gladdened to be sequestered within the sacred confines
of a psychiatric ward—
though it hardly felt like a home, the absence of my former lover
and his dominating presence brought great, unparalleled relief.

Old lovers simply do not make good friends.

An Ordinary Terror and the Cost of Curiosity

Superstition becomes, of its own source,
a conviction of the greatest import,
impelling us to forbearance and caution
but, with little reason to restrain the extent of its effects,
it fully prohibits those inclinations so necessary
for the fulfillment of a happy life.
The world and its many tragedies,
portrayed with even greater intensity by the all-pervading media,
justified my seclusion, and was only further reinforced
by my lack of means,
by which entertainment is so commonly sought.
As dearly as I have desired to remove myself
to the world without these walls,
to enjoy its pleasures and see its wonders,
anxiety disinclined me from idly neglecting my fears.
They held onto me as surely as gravity maintains the planets
in their orbit
but they, like these fears, are not eternal
and only seem, by those unseen forces kept,
preserved in their usual course for all futurity.

Alas, for all the world is in decay
and the sun burns more brightly every day.

Time leaves its inevitable mark upon the languorous mind,
extending and contracting itself to the inconvenience of the
suffering kind,
and compels to frenzied activity the spirit of foolish spontaneity,
such that one gladly undertakes ventures one would have once
declined.

Into the world I ventured fast, never fretting
what course I was setting,
and found myself, without wit
to guide me safely through it.
Not before long, as the sun’s dissipating light
dispelled and obscured my sight,
I came to a wood surrounded clearing
well without any person’s hearing
and stood awhile in silence, gazing ’round with awe
at everything I saw.

Then, as I looked at the scenery around
I heard a most disquieting sound,
like the rapturous gnawing of some beast
upon its victim feast.
From where I stood
among the many trees of the wood
I could not determine with certainty
the location of this entity
and remained for a while petrified;
yet, just as the sound feverishly intensified,
it then came to an ominous, abrupt end,
and I then saw that which such sounds portend—
bearing its teeth, colored with crimson,
the wolf revealed its maw most fearsome!

Quickly, I ran off into the wood, hoping to lose the wolf
amongst the labyrinth of trees,
but alas!, as I soon realized, it followed without faltering,
guided perhaps by those acute senses,
well-attuned by their nature,
to hunt their prey unto their victim’s unfortunate fate.
In a mere moment’s time I saw a crevice dug into the ground,
and hid myself below the rim, hoping that I had done so in time
to secure myself from its detection.

Dreading that the wolf might venture nearer to my hiding place,
I pushed my body more tightly into the crevice
and away from the outer rim.
It drew nearer yet did not seem to suspect my presence there,
for it neither growled menacingly nor discovered me,
and eventually, though not swiftly, departed from that spot
to the surrounding woods.
When all was quiet and I recovered my senses,
I warily raised my head just slightly above the rim
to determine its whereabouts
but whatever way I looked there appeared no frightful beast
to excite my fears,
so I left that place, fleeing back in the direction of my home,
and never again dared to venture out
on the whim of some desperate curiosity.

The Counsel of Despair

It’s easy enough to be alive, for it takes little effort on my part
to pump the bellows full of air and keep Life’s fire alight,
but whatever purpose this process might ultimately serve
is, as far as I know, impossible to justify.
In moments of despair all the world does seem to shrink,
any power over my life feels
as though it has been robbed from me,
and I no longer feel the pull of meaningful pursuits.

The world beyond these walls does not interest me,
for I see nothing in it but an agonizing enterprise.
As I move towards the object of my interest
my movements become slow,
as though the air were as thick as water,
and the terrible monster,
whose voracious appetite compels it to pursue me,
comes ever nearer
yet neither succeeds nor abates.
It is impossible for me to stop and give up to the powers that be,
for there is nothing there but death and decay,
yet I am not entirely unaware that my path
has become stereotyped;
like all nightmares the fiercest monster
is merely monotony.

The dogma of doubt dictates uncertain regulations
while despair certifies the uselessness of action
and negates the significance of life.
In fits of rage I shrug off the outside world
and defy the promises it offers,
denying the notion of ever being well again.
It’s hard enough to move when both desire and necessity
fail to motivate me, yet for every reason I have to live
I have an equally compelling reason to die.
I stand before the altar of Life, prepared to revive my resolve
through its resources,
but just as I place my offering bowl on the counter top
my limbs cease to obey my will.
I stand like a statue with a death-like paralysis,
unable to perform even the most basic task of feeding myself.

The very mechanisms of my defense monopolize my actions,
culling conscious control in favor of fear and dread
of things that may or may not come to be.
In compulsive fretting I feel “It” constricting,
pulling me inward towards myself
and away from the dangerous world
but within me there are only self-inflicting wounds,
familiarly striped and applied with feverish vigor.

In life I fear that which I have often seen in my sleep—
the expedient decay of my body.
Teeth rot and fall out; baldness spreads swiftly and inextricably
across my scalp;
and, with terror and morbid curiosity,
I open up my abdominal cavity
as though the skin were as soft as clay,
and watch my vital organs slip out.
There must be more to this entity, my intuition says,
than mere organismic order and instinctual instruction—
but as in dreams, so too in life,
I fearfully find nothing but flesh and bone.

Without our sacred values we crumble to our knees:
Eating is reduced to a mere routine
to stave off the ache of hunger,
beauty becomes a vacant facade to hide the structures of decay,
and life itself, despite all the good it purportedly entails,
becomes a purposeless passing from one day to the next.

The Assessor of Ma’at

Days come and go like the mortals who like to count them,
seemingly devoid of meaning and yet so potentially full of it.
Twenty years, a quarter of what we expect we have,
have passed …
but I fear the rapid beating of my heart
that fills me with the dread
of a sickness which lessens my own expectation
to an average of forty.

Specialists agree that there are no irregularities in my heart
but once it was suspected
I can’t entirely, nor easily, forget the possibility…

Last night I fearfully awaited the arrival of a Jackal-headed man,
entrusted with the task of taking me away to die,
but at the door—with a singularly unnerving knock! —
there stood a messenger of his office in his stead,
assigned to the task of informing his clients
of the Jackal’s whereabouts
and the likely time of his eventual arrival.

“He’s well on his way,” the messenger said
and quickly departed without delay.
He could not tell me any more than this
and left the time of his master’s visit, as it always was
and always will be, uncertain but certain.

We work hard to save time and spend what little of it we have
yet when we have too much of it on our hands we kill it.
I would like the promise of a long and happy life,
free from the consequences I fear,
but it is in lacking this that makes me afraid …
afraid of my own heartbeat.