Alain Ginsberg

Two Poems

Love Letter To A “Boy” From A Lacking of Gender

Gender Identity Timeline, Part Two

Dear Boy,
Sorry you had to wade through mud
in the dark.
That you had to wait so long
to find your Personal Dictionary.
You, a living Allegory of The Cave.
A less shitty shadow puppet of
indistinct presentations.
You claimed Boy as you were told you were one.
were given the affirmation of He
like a merit badge on too small
a scout uniform.

Most liars never let you know the possibility
of a bad hypothesis though
never tell you there’s more than two
answers. refuse you a multiple choice.
Boy. We are born color coded, our children
dressed in hues of red or blue, but all of our rooms
have been yellow. This is the first hint that eyes can adjust to the dark.
That you were a body uncolor-coded.
Not a mix, but an absence of both.

Dear Boy,
Sorry I never played
by the rivers,
only let you walk small
and carry sticks. Made us
swallow ignorance
stopped the regurgitation you never got to
Let you appear anything other than
unsure of yourself.

Mom calls you Ladies Man.
She does not get how these are two things you are not.
How all of your friends are girls
because you didn’t know there
isn’t a place for you
in either binary.
Boy. I remember wearing shirts in the pool
because we wanted the bareness of our
chest to be weaponry.
Know that we are (in) danger
living our life bare now.

Dear Boy,
When Michelle buys a packer
(this is the second hint)
a light in the cave.
A voice that isn’t your own echo.
Saying, “People are not always
as they are born.”
That, “you can grow into yourself
and out of what you are told
you are supposed to be.” Boy,
Sorry you were never taught
to speak, read, or write
anything but compliance.
That our Dictionary was written
hieroglyph, stomped
dead by colonization.
I was late.
Too afraid of my authenticity
our authenticity
to live authentically.

This is less a letter
more a eulogy.
There is no address to send this to
existence does not start with gender
There is no address to send this to
Each day I am learning how deep a history our identities hold.
There is nothing I
could have done for you.

Dear Boy.
My dear, dear Boy. Me.
If only they taught us from the start
about deceptions.
How they made magicians create fraud and called it magic.
How trans and nonbinary peoples are linked throughout history by mysticism.
How grandma tells us we’re from France,
like Gauls, like Gallius worshiping Cybele.
How patriarchal power plays killed the other genders out
of fear. Fought them into submission.
How our being belongs to a culture older
than we are allowed.

Boy, we are not boys but mystics.
Belonging to stars and magic.
Your flesh means nothing to the truth
I am learning to forget our flesh
was the first to lie to us.
That it only acted in the language
it was taught, compliance.


My Gender Identity Timeline Thus Far

After Jon Sands

The body is roughly two-thirds water
this is a truth I learn to accept without curiosity
the first time school teaches blind acceptance.
The body is not just one body;
this is something I recognize when jealousy of
the way girls legs look in the sun while I wear
long pants in the dead of summer knowing
my own legs still walk but won’t be girls’ legs.

My grandfather is old ocean, a body of stale water
whose truth is in unquestioned actualities.
You are wet, or you are dry, there is no in-between.
When I listen to his beer-gut of a storm, I am in the calm.
I am not yet old enough to know about the storm yet.
I am not yet old enough to question the staleness of flat water.

The body is roughly two thirds water
and I am less than sure that
boy is a body of water swallowable and
a body of water is a mystery.
Common knowledge knows more about
outer space than of oceans and
the body is not just one mystery.

My grandfather is mistrustful of the fact that
chasing skirts means something different to me.
The fact that I outline my vision more often than not

and I am learning how to be not wet or dry.
Learning to slip through the cracks and fill a space
that was there the whole time.

My is not a girl’s body nor a boy’s body
this is a truth I learn to accept as the closest closet
assumption to how deep the Marianas trench is.
The body is roughly two thirds water
but this body is not my body, regardless
of paying rent here.

When my grandfather had time,
before death had a timestamp,
he told me I had to decide if I was going to be ocean
or if I was going to be sky, and that the space between
is nonexistant. Instead I chose to be the storm.

At the end of my all-male catholic high school experience
I asked a campus minister if I would
graduate if I was a dog
As long as I was a boy dog I would.
This is a cruel joke about how my body
is a book of typos, written in barely legible fonts.

Not quite a boi, not yet a grrl.


Alain Ginsberg is an agender performance poet from Baltimore, and author of the chapbooks Loathe/Love/Lathe (Nostrovia! Press, 2017), and Until the Cows Come Home (Elation Press, 2016). They've participated in the Individual World Poetry Slam, Capturing Fire, Louder Than A Bomb, Word War, and the inaugural Rouge Roulette. Ginsberg's work has been published in Fanzine, Witch Craft Magazine, Shabby Dollhouse, Great Weather for Media, and Persephone's Daughters.