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Day 2: Birthday Suits by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

Queer Poem-a-Day is a program from the Adult Services Department at the Library and may include adult language. 

Birthday Suits

by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

I turned twenty-four and
dad decided to take
another stab at making
a man out of me.
On his command, I drove us
out to Hollywood where
you could get three sets of suits
for a hundred bucks.
What a steal! he exclaimed
as though his enthusiasm
would fertilize
something that never
existed within me.
Regardless, I followed him
into the outlet and I
allowed him to wrap
the cheap, heavy thread
around my tired shoulders,
to salt the wound of my body
with his idea of truth.
I let it happen
but I did not forget
what I was
beneath the cover of the flesh:
……….……….
five million faggy mountains
slicing through fields full
of dreamed-up tongues and
unnamable bluish grasses
each blade the length
of a universe
stretching inward toward
a singular point
of
life-sustaining unlogic—

……….……….
Dressing myself behind
the heavy polyester curtain,
I listened
as dad held the suit guy hostage
with the oft-told tale
of the night he encountered
real-life Biblical demons,
how at first he felt their presence
tightening inside his chest,
and then witnessed them crawling
up and down his walls
and how he prayed and cursed them
in the name of the lord
until they dissolved
like sugar into the dark
……….……….
And he never said this, but I
knew he was convinced they
came for me next
……….……….
and colored my nails
and stretched out my hair
and adorned me with flowers
and forced my inside places to whisper
……….woman         woman                      woman
late each night at the
moment just           before sleep
……….……….
And I knew he knew
who I was becoming
and I understood
what the suits were for             So
……….……….
I tossed them in the back
of my trunk
where they sat
waiting for years
and the day I sold that car off
……….……….those suits were still in there


Copyright © 2019 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Originally published in Poetry Magazine, April 2019.


About the Author

Queer Poem a Day HeadshotJoshua Jennifer Espinoza is a trans woman poet. Her work has been featured in Poetry Magazine, the American Poetry Review, Southeast Review, The Rumpus, Poem-a-day at poets.org, and elsewhere. She is the author of I’m Alive / It Hurts / I Love It (Big Lucks 2019) and THERE SHOULD BE FLOWERS (The Accomplices 2016). She holds an MFA in poetry from UC Riverside and currently teaches creative writing. Jennifer lives in California with her wife, poet/essayist Eileen Elizabeth, and their dog and cat.

Queer Poem a Day graphic

Queer Poem a Day


Queer Poem-a-Day is directed by poet and teacher Lisa Hiton and Dylan Zavagno, Adult Services Coordinator at the Deerfield Public Library. Music for this second year of our series is the first movement, Schéhérazade, from Masques, Op. 34, by Karol Szymanowski, performed by pianist Daniel Baer. Queer Poem-a-Day is supported by generous donations from the Friends of the Deerfield Public Library and the Deerfield Fine Arts Commission.

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