The Darkness Don’t Let Up Until It Does

poetry by Meeah Williams

The Darkness Don’t Let Up Until It Does

Can’t you read something light
something cheerful, you gently chide,
when you see the grim titles on the haul of books
I bring back from the library,
something fun, just for a change,
a book with a talking cat in it, maybe,
you laugh at the look on my face,
& bravely push on, going for the kill,
something with a happy ending?

I pretend to throw a book at you.

In bed you touch me places
I dare not touch myself
make me feel better
than I ever believed
I had any right to feel
touch me like the woman
I might have been by touching me
like the woman I am.

But the hardest love, you understand,
is knowing where not to put your hands
where the scars like psychic wires
of the trickiest IEDs are hidden,
handling a body
cruelly rigged by terrorists
to explode on contact into nothingness
with one false move—no,
it cant be easy navigating
this terrain.

I don’t need to tell you my history
you can hear it in the way I whimper
in my dreams, the way I share my memories,
so heavily redacted they’re almost
all blacked out, the way I leave a room
when certain scenes come on TV,
or, caught off guard, too late to flee
the telltale knuckle in my eye,
the jokes I make to laugh away pain.

It must suck to love me.

When I think of how much it must suck
to love me I laugh––
we’re hunched over a crossword puzzle
outside of Café Ladro
trying to think of a 7-letter word
for tightrope artist
& you’re lifting a forkful of brownie
to my lips asking what’s so funny,
already smiling. I turn my head,
to answer “nothing,” as I often do,
only to be stopped short
having seen by accident
the obvious answer to everything
in your sunlit eyes.

Take My Penis, Please

It’s not the first line of a joke
there’s nothing funny about it
it’s a gag without a punchline
I’m dead serious
it’s my male privilege
& I decline it

it’s not a winning lottery ticket
it’s not a cruise to an island paradise
it’s a lifetime sentence
with no chance for parole
it’s solitary confinement

where can I return it
at which window, at what
courtesy desk, no,
I haven’t got a receipt
it was a gift, a gift so they tell me
it’s the gift
that keeps on taking
the gift I didn’t want
the gender equivalent
of the holiday fruitcake
& I’m ungrateful, the nerve of me,
but no one asked me if I wanted it
I wasn’t informed
they never took my input
it was on no Christmas list of mine
no birthday wish
they just zipped me into a boysuit
pinned a name to my pocket
& pushed me into this man’s world
ready, able or not

I’m sorry
I’m so sorry
but here, take it back,
it’s the tool I never learned
to handle
that fixed nothing
I ever clumsily used it on
the wrench that only skinned my knuckles
that only made things worse
that broke whatever it touched
including me

here, take it back
I don’t want a refund
I don’t want another
I just want free of it
I have no use for it
give it to someone else
give it to the first woman you see
who thinks its so fantastic
she’ll take it off my hands
good luck
it’s free

no charge,
no questions asked, here
just take the goddamn thing
I’m begging you
throw it in the ocean
if no one wants it
shoot it to the moon
I don’t care
it’s nothing but trouble
it’s a weapon I never wanted
the weapon I’ll one day use
to shoot myself
so take my privilege from me, please,
I don’t want it
I don’t need it
I can’t have it in the house
not one day longer
it’s killed half of me already
the other half its holding hostage
it’ll finish me yet
it’ll be my murder weapon
I swear
take it
please I beg you
just take it from my hand
I give it up
it’s like brand new
one owner
hardly ever used

An Open Letter to Donald Trump

From a Transgendered American

I am not playing around anymore
I am not just a name on a piece of paper
whether that paper is my birth certificate
my marriage license
my legal name-change
or the hard-won designation “F”
on my driver’s license
I am not just 4ml of Estradiol Valerate
injected intramuscularly
once a week
until Hell freezes over
I am not just a thousand hours of electrolysis
I am not reducible to what’s between my legs
or what isn’t
I may be made of genes and chromosomes
but I am more than the sum of my parts
anyone who believes in a soul
knows that
I am not what a doctor told my parents
I was when I was delivered
before I even knew I was a “me”
before I knew boy from girl
before I knew there was a choice to be made
you made it for me
you assumed there was no choice
I am not bound by your ignorance or limitations
I am not the sum total of society’s expectations
based on a gender that was assigned
along with a name and a social security number
I am not doomed to your either/or
You can no more erase me
than I can erase you
we’ll just have to get along in this world together
distasteful as that might be
I am not going away because you play
around with some words
I can play with words, too
You can not write me out of existence
by altering a sentence
I can also write a sentence
you cannot decree my life a life-sentence
and call that justice
I can write myself free with a stroke of a pen
as quick as you can corral me
I am determined as Jesus Christ and nails
to be resurrected & respected
as who I am
I may fear your hate but your hate is telling
you and your villagers with their pitchforks & torches
are too late
the rock has already rolled back from the tomb
and there’s no one inside
open your eyes
this land is already swarming with the born again
& you’ll never bury us all a second time.

Meeah Williams’s  most recent work has appeared in Otoliths, Phantom Drift, Uut, The Ginger Collect, Former Cactus, Anti-Heroin Chic, Soft Cartel, Barren, Vulture Bones, and Burning House. She lives in Seattle.