These three poems were written by Chrystal, read at Contradiction IV. We thank the writers for allowing us to publish these works on our site.
INK ON SKIN
self-expression or self-release?
ink on skin more like blood seeping through
art and architecture colliding
on surfaces and within
is beautiful. her body is beautiful.
a landscape genius with shading
and smooth curve.
an entire canvas – a work in progress
with drawings that misdirect, drawing
attention only to
a gun which recognizes we are all to blame
its nozzle pointing in, its handle open for your grasp
I grasp her arm and she lets me
puts the trigger to my anxious untrained fingers
and I have hurt her
in my defense of expression and release
too many times
her heart once worn, red, on her upper left sleeve
now lower, worn out, perhaps, or still falling with hope in gray flames, still burning
waiting for my silly searching to end where it began -
a nautical star for direction and a banner left blank
with an invisible inscription. her name written in permanence.
five feet and four inches and the occasional additional seven and a half strapped on
a version of our aversion to the need for heels or height
a little lean and you learn that when it’s all laid down, the world
will slip into reach just right.
but the landscape is genius. in dim light.
a skyline crafted like odd-lengthed crayons in every shade of Crayola’s blue and gray
scraping the night as if god’s ass is bare and daring
the boldest, tallest, to take him on.
fool enough to try and fooled enough to stand
before the lobby
at street level and shrinking.
but away from that city
such erections are mere shadows
cast upon faces like masses of clitoral vindication.
so let’s make art with our bodies
and war with our voices
link arms, build walls so great in front clinics
and around women
exercising a right not given by statute
but by the inherent allowance to choose.
see, that’s the art of creation
each individual with difference
and on that level – equal
guilt implied only by those above judgment
those who have proof of absolute truth
and I will say not even science is very much more than theoretical
but aesthetics are pleasing. unexplained. mysterious.
like favorite colors.
so the direction of my gazes is, quite frankly, none of your business
specifically if you deal with laws and �infringements’
the fringe of society will always be here where you put it
whether you like it
holding in place the outline of your weak definitions
constraints and restrictions you man-made normality
you nurtured into nature
non-conformity is the frame around your masterpiece
and what’s truly genius
is the landscape
and the escape from textbook terminology
and the noise.
life and art
are the colors of skin and the contours of choice.
In the Streets
recently, with the attention from the random schoolgirl stalkers and the truly crazy girls,
every time we fuck i wonder if this is how they see me.
on top but way too bottom.
more skin undressed in a single frame than anyone else could account.
your seven and a half inches of what it means to be free..
seven and a half inches within me.
and god, do i get loud…
it’s so odd to think about.
i imagine them glimpsing us in that hot clammy wet moment.
can’t feel my toes or grip your hair any tighter.
can’t hear my drippy mucous thoughts
over a voicebox in my throat that switched channels.
can’t stop the tremble in my thighs or press our chests any deeper.
when all i can is come.
butch on the streets and femme in the sheets.
i don’t believe in that.
i don’t believe in gender.
i don’t believe in codes that formulate a system of authority.
they’re just roles we play in the dark.
i believe i cracked the passwords, beat the boundaries, and defeated the purposes we were expected to accept.
but i came.
and i asked.
who am i if not in some form some way someone i’d be assessed to be?
expression and identity are knit too close.
like my breaths and my gasps when your hand is down my pants.
when i look in the mirror i see what i want to.
what i want them to.
i see a dash of arrogance that means strength in the bulk of male muscle.
masculine terms that i want my chin to speak
before my words have their chance.
when i look in the mirror i furrow my brows.
i am defiance. i am real. i am man. – or boy,
because my dimple charms and jello smile and pissed-pants eyes reveal.
so i am not defiance. i am not man. that is not real.
and when i look in the mirror i furrow my brows to deny, defy,
with cheeks too chubby to know the arch of man constructs…
architecture of the home, the rod, the rule.
the triangle was gold, not pink.
but I never followed the hint.
when i talk to myself, i’m a hundred and twelve percent boy.
albeit sensitive and introspective.
And i don’t know myself any other way.
the day i cut my hair off (it only took me seventeen years)
i stayed in front of the mirror for hours.
negotiating what i saw.
resolving who i had always been.
it was like staring at your twin, separated at birth,
and that internal reconciliation.
putting the parts together.
like always knowing there was someone out there who had stolen your identity and left you with someone else’s.
and then seeing your self walking down the street right across the street from you.
i don’t know myself any other way.
yet you know me that other way.
you know the way my jaw drops and locks, the way i bite my lip, the way my neck throws back.
i’m no actor.
i’m not the best liar.
i guess i’m versatile but you somehow lube up my dichotomies just right…
we’re faggots and toughguys and leather dykes and fruitcakes…
and god knows i love the sounds you make when you’re almost.. quite… there.
my mother wants to define this
sex came with
a gender clause.
this uniform skirt is control
exercised by culture
and laws that dictate
over external genitalia, wombs, female fetuses, and the space we�re allowed to exist
a norm of petite, polite, post-marital slave
and we carry our heels high
to be crippled
we acquire joy
from the vanity of requiring continuous assistance.
so my jeans will be worn, knowing
the price that accompanies�
this awareness that this world was born
a woman�s pain
this responsibility to react sensitively
taught his story and his terminology that recites fair game.
my god is my maker; his word is my sin
you are my judges, judge, judgment
qualified by manhood
raised, erected, waving like a wand
but she, she is my conscience
and for that thrust, i will stand.
the truth is out there
a simple search, keywords, on the world wide web
take away politics, religion, ignorance and
add a dash of self-worth and
it will be found that the mystery is stellar
and it lies in here.
in these words, this supposed poetry
of language and languor
lies irreverence and love and its stolen midnight motion
if only in respite.
i was told by an artist that art empowers scientists
that laws are enacted by politicians and embellished
well i write and i paint, but not enough to make change.
canvas does not sound like the alarm, the crash
of three airplanes headed for history.
but we�ll go down on your daughter
before their husbands understand and
we�ll plan our revolution under conservative family tables
by holding hands and
we�ll respect their laws of nature, stare it down like fighting prey
while they turn away from this physics of gravitation
alike to and amore so than theirs, since the anatomy�s the same.
but i digress.
i�ve been inspired, and i�ve been told that this thought is a weapon and its ammunition
is the voice to reveal
it�s some gift of the gap, a trap, I appeal the decision
for you ration your rationalism, spread too thin to comment
but I realize
that guns serve best pointed at the ones holding
and the gap, well it�s a fucking ravine and i�m drowning in it.
having to sleep to a head in chorus and in cry
the alcohol helps it stop, temporarily pause, distill, dilute, comply
but most nights these days
and i�m dreaming
of better times, better places, more liquor in my drawer
but i continue to wake
to our current state and current current events and
of my un-recycled page and sweatshop-made pen.
and i mention them
because in every torn nation and through every impoverished people
the boys have it better than girls
who bear the brute of an already blunt butt.
and i�m not saying i�d rather none make do
i�m just questioning
the mentality that equates this equality.
and i�m no feminist. i�m barely feminine, in quotes.
but i do hope the first term did not stem from the latter
since that would render both words
unjustified to my vagina.
maybe perhaps that�s my soul agenda
to say the word real loud in public � vagina vagina vagina.