Three Poems by Robin Gow

Dead in a Photobooth 

We were high schoolers buying eyeliner 

at end the world. The mall food court vibrated

with bats. I wanted enough faces so I could use them 

like a stone path out of this moment.

My face skeletoned more each day. I was a boy

then a girl then a girl boy then a pair of eyes. 

Row homes of teeth. My cheeks

dipped in to make bathing pools for reapers.

I have never succeeded in learning how to eat.

For a moment though I can catch a smile like a trout.

Throbbing scaled thing. Tomorrow there will be time

to take another. Glancing over my shoulder,

I say to myself, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Dead with Grandfather 

In the forest made of canes, one is bound to fall 

and kill you. This is why I am not often a man. 

My grandfather died without a face so we knelt and knit a mask 

for him to carry into the onward. I used to believe

in Summerland but now as I see him standing in the yard,

I know that most of us do not move on when we die. 

We stand and look into windows

until they degrade. Houses fall away to leave room 

for our staring. I check everything as if it’s going to change

while I’m not keeping vigil. He drinks straight from the bottle.

Smokes his pipe. I come out to join him.

Draw smoke into my lungs and think of the wars he saw.

He admits, “No one really wants to be a man.” 

Dead with Sister-Self 

In another life I am a nun and I come to my this-life self

and say, “You are going to die here.” For so long 

I lived with a stomach full of apple trees. Arsenic seeds

rattling all night. I still can’t sleep. I wait for the alarm 

as if it’s a lover. The bell acolyte is the best acolyte. 

Motioning and saying, “We only have two servers.”

Wanting to be a boy is so much a part of me that I cannot imagine really being one.

Then I would need to cut off my hands and feed them 

to the baptismal foundation. For years, my family left church early 

and I was convinced that after we left the adults went into a back room 

to make a human sacrifice. What have you done to day 

in order to not be a sacrifice? I killed my nun-self with a candle stick

to the head. She falls in the sacristy. Bleeds water like a fountain. 

BIO: Robin Gow is a trans poet and witch from rural Pennsylvania.

Photo by Sarah Leamy

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