The night America took off her mask
we slept together poorly. I'd woken up early
that Tuesday, dragged myself to a gymnasium
in Jersey City to cast my vote into the void.
I came all the way out to Hampton Bays
to see her: her picking me up in that old
Mercury van, her bringing us back to her place.
As we watched the footage of the country
reveal its frightening hue, we were shocked
but not. A few days later I came back.
My nails were painted blue the week after
the mask fell from America's fist, the week
when the victorious hatred began. I walked
through Hoboken to work one morning
worried ten tiny splashes of colour on my body
might be enough to get me killed.
I realized then I had a choice: stay
queerly small and queerly quiet, or become
emboldened too. That like a true American Nazi
I could drop my mask and live life alive.
In the months after, I dismantled the mask
piece by piece while America lifted her skirt
to let free her pale hounds. I dipped my head
in cerulean dye and felt mortality pound
through every vein, felt myself climbing
to the paper surface of me. I let my body fold
and unfold. I let my body be loved by
a woman I loved more than air could explain.
I let myself be a foggy pile of indeterminate
me and I learned to love myself like that, too.
Despite the fear of the mortal danger
I grew bold in a way the system hated.
I decided that if this world was going
to kill me I'd die against the grain.
I decided that if America confronted me
with her rancid mouth screaming
I would stand as tall as her and scream back.
My nails, bright and tiny nodes of resistance
in the land of the craven, my hair, glowing
like a backlit sapphire in a home aflame,
I looked in the mirror and sang the words
of a new, loud anthem for this new, vast me.