Poem in Which You Are the Church

Real boy the love I have made to you is unremarkable,
as it should be in a perfect world, impossible to tell
where you end and I begin.

Real boy I have recessed in your nation,
your looted land, pronounced it dead,
& closed the borders I once bled for.

Real boy I dream of fist un-flung,
forever boy, I have wept on your behalf,
I have wept for the rifle that fires flowers.

I have wept for your father, his secret sorrow
I have wept for your god locked in a bottle
I have wept for the ghost you never knew.

Real boy what do you call a wolf without teeth?
a wolf without fur, exiled by bigger wolves,
a wolf greater than the lack of his parts.

What do you call the boy refracted? His salted sea,
his rivers Jordan, John, and Luke
he who must be touched to be known.

What do you call a cancer by any other creed, that
which consumes the flesh, consumes the need,
what do you call a boy by any other name?

Real boy I have missed you every morning,
your funeral of a face, your
box of shattered pearls, your

mourning for the sake of
all real boys.
No house worships you, no house builds itself.

Real boy I have prayed for your forgiveness,
I have prayed to change you,
I have divided art from artist, divided

truth and nature,
I am bruised blue and pink,
my stomach soured by the fruits of your labor.

Real boy I have been the kindling,
the kerosene, I have been the underbrush,
the evergreen, I have been the root of your disdain,

your soiled seed, Real boy I have taken you
as Hades took Persephone, made you queen
for sake of starving, made

your mother ill with worry, brought
you to the edge of ruin.
Real boy

I have imagined you in the mirror,
I have imagined our bodies intermixed.
I have disguised you

for fear of reckoning, quieted you
for fear of possibility.
I have made you the object

of my unrest. Real boy,
the boy of my invention, the boy
with ten fingers and ten toes,

always I will be here,
stirring the same pot, wearing the
same shoes, missing the same people.

And you will be here, too
regretting nothing, not even
the hair you grew. Fantastic boy,

with your edgeless axe, your petty thunder;
I hold your breath anchor heavy in my arms
and let the burden bring us under.


C.J. Strauss is a transgender writer and artist currently pursuing their BA in English at Barnard College. Their art and writing has been published both internationally and domestically by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, The Claremont Review, Vade Mecum Magazine, GREYstone Youth Litmag, Echoes Literary Magazine, The Free Library of the Internet Void, RATROCK Magazine, and the Barnard Bulletin. C.J. presently interns at the Poetry Society of New York and the Visible Poetry Project where their responsibilities include social media management and community engagement. They tweet @cjsxyz.