looks me in the mess and holds it

[looks at all this wound and still holds me]


when i arrive in their city i trail behind

me [and try to hide by stuffing

into my mouth] this whole week with

bloody gums [which   makes me a clumsy

kisser] but my partner who asks me how

much water i drank today

[every day] still tells me i’m cute.

my partner with the high voice

and wide wrists promises to bring me

[my ex’s head in their teeth / or,

a hundred cop-scalps / or,] breakfast.


when i leave, the middle-schoolers

outside my job won’t stop yelling

faggot like the concrete’s never had

that shit bounce off and shard

against it before. i was faggot when

i was 13 and i am still faggot now

and scared these children will see my face

remember a faked-out punch swung

into my gay-ass laugh like an adult i trust

has just told me i look like a boy with

my hair like that. and so what. this is america

and we kill anyone who we think would

look better inside-out. by america i mean


my partner [who is learning how to tend

a gunshot wound] and i both flinch at fire-

booms and the click of a chain-link

fence in the wind. we have never met

most of the people we each also love.

we both own steel-toed boots and know

how to tie a bandana as protection [or

tourniquet]. on the fourth of july we both

have pending criminal charges and this

is america, so i get cat-called

to my car, but again, this is where we are

supposed to be proud of from.

by from i mean tonight, and until

every dead kid’s name is the loudest

riot-siren of the century. so we can

still drink moonshine in the tall grass

and eat potato salad with our

hands and put everything [but

the camera-click] on pause.


L. R. Bird (they/them pronouns) has work published or forthcoming in Blueshift Journal, Maps for Teeth, FreezeRay, Public Pool, Alien Mouth, and others. They are a multiple Pushcart Prize and Bettering American Poetry nominee, have performed for venues like The Bowery Poetry Club and Busboys & Poets, and occasionally sleep a full 8 hours. Site: