Riley Ramanathan

Two Poems

Volume 17:2, Spring 2016


I had a dream.
I slit my wrists in a graveyard.
The blood rained down
Into the ground
To awaken my trans ancestors.

They took me in their brown arms weeping.
The blood had seeped
To hidden roots.

I was raised to the sky
An androgynous reminder
Of the Earth’s beginnings.

Now the world must reckon with the void I leave behind.

My ancestors retreat back into the soil.
They take me gently with them.
For this I am grateful.


Sometimes Self-Harm Feels Like the Best Form of Self-Care

Sometimes self-harm feels like the best form of self-care.
I ain’t afraid to admit it.
A wound to inhibit
All this rage.
Fall bloodstained against the page.

I’ve been low,
When “try again” don’t sound reassuring.
It’s hollow,
And cannot pierce the shroud of 28-year old transgender depression
With its weak reverberation.

Sometimes there is only the scrape of scissors against skin.
The faint sharp sensation just enough to keep you alive.

Sometimes it’s all we know.
Pain that we self-inflict
To spare our oppressors the trouble.

The genocide of hours passed.
Sometimes self-harm is the only care I know.


Riley Ramanathan is a Black, non-binary, masculine trans poet living in Washington, DC.