Aiden Angle

HARING: A SELF PORTRAIT
After Eli Shipley


Hey guy,
I’m dancing naked

in a gallery where I first trip
with strangers—each body
posturing in jazzed

expression. One foot on the ground,
I realize, there’s a body
falling face first into the foot that I’m kicking

and I wonder if it’s just me falling into myself,
grasping post-card heart. Faceless

figures dance— drinking
gin and herbs mixed by a surgeon
who stands on a bench boasting of drug

use, who believes we’re all fingers
reaching up, waving

connected
by the palm of a hand. And now

everybody looks the same naked,
like the shapeless

self I see in the mirror, free
now like the dolphin swimming atop

the back of a man, selfish
as if the only one of its kind.


There are some things that are difficult to speak about. For me, it’s being a transman, yet so often I find my work revolving around gender and its complexities. To be honest, it makes me uncomfortable. When disclosing my trans identity it feels as if I’m stripping naked. In revealing a trans identity, one is revealing a manmade body, something that’s not “normal,” and diversity too often fuels fear and hatred.

Would it be easier to not write about my experience as a transman? Yes. But we live in a time where trans voices are just beginning to be heard, and respected. Keeping my trans-informed poetry hidden away from the world would be counterproductive to my community and the culture we live in. I want change. I want inclusion. I want a world where labels don’t separate. If my voice can be a part of that movement, I will willingly write myself naked on the page.

 

                                    
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