Kris Gebhard

Claim Our Chaos

This poem is inspired by all of us who embody dissonance,
All of us who have all been pitied.
Who have all been told, by someone or another, that our “condition” is imagined
That we should suck it up and get on with it like the rest of them.
We’ve been called traitors
Whether of race, or family, religion, money, fame, or health, natural, or normal, and gender,
and gender, gender is our most heinous betrayal.
Dysphoria has been an ax swinging back and knocking us unconscious
The block of wood: our beauty.
Some of us have stopped trying to split it into two genders,
Can’t you see? We are splinters of each other.
When our bodies seem strangers to our souls, we learn from each other how to breathe.
Thank Goddess for our bodies, all disarranged as they seem.
We are an eco-system of pumping, flowing, beating, moaning, yelping, exclaiming:
We claim our chaos,
When our skin feels like someone else’s wrinkled cotton sheets
When razors ride rigid and we’re sick of shaving every day
When binders sweat and squeeze us
We claim flabby, flopping tits,
We claim hairy faces, hairy inner thighs, and hairy asses,
Nose hairs, leg hairs, and armpit hairs
When every hallway blessed by our lover’s hands is decked with flashing exit signs,
We claim flaccid dicks
We claim silicone, leather, and lube
Honey, we claim lots of lube,
When we laugh and they don’t get it
We claim smiles, winks, and teeth
When pitch is the sole determinant of a Maam or a Sir,
We claim booming, and raspy, chirpy, and squeaky, squealing, and thunderous, excited,
and filled-with-passion, and filled-with-courage, and
Bathrooms, we claim every fucking stall, urinal, and toilet,
We claim ecology of bodies, it takes yours to give mine meaning,
(So baby, make me look good!),
When we don’t know if they’re afraid to sleep with us
Or if we’re afraid to sleep with us,
When it’s easier to undress others than to dress ourselves
We claim the challenge, because we’ll never know how many people we free just by
putting on our favorite fancy pants, and skirts, and scarves, and metal through skin,
and glitter, and ink
And femme, boi, butch, dyke, fag, queen, queer, king, pansy, pussy, bottom, daddy, bear,
twink, flaming, and fabulous
We claim it all at once
We claim pleasure,
And the 2,735 places on our bodies that are pleasurable to touch, tantalize, torture, and
We claim ears, and shoulders, and armpits, and eyelashes, and the insides of knees,
And big toes and little toes, and calves, and hips, and tongues, and lips, and nipples, and
fingers and wrist and hands, and teeth, and tongues, and hands, and lips, and tongues,
and hands.
We claim gorgeous, handsome, charming, adorable, damn fucking sexy.
We claim pronouns, we claim all the pronouns, or none of the pronouns,
We refuse to claim and make them deal with their confusion,

When it feels like no one will claim us,
We claim each other,
For siblings, for lovers, for children, for parents,
We claim family

When our family has to listen to us babble on and on for hours
When our family has to argue with nurses and yell at us to stop unplugging our breathing tubes
When our family is only still there because they hope
We claim beauty
We claim beauty only found because we know, no matter how much of ourselves we miss
Our family misses it too
And they claim us
They claim our chaos
They claim every beauty we are
And every beauty we will become


Kris Gebhard is a percussionist, gardener, and poet, who has toured with Soulscribes. Gebhard earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College and is currently in the clinical psychology PhD program at George Mason University. Gebhard is a former resident of Minneapolis, now living in DC.