by Erika Ceballos
Sometimes I scoop out my breasts and my vulva,
pack them away,
and press flat against the covers.
I’ll pluck the hairs of my body,
shedding imperfections until only
identity is left.
Sometimes I fasten a cock to my hips,
deepen my voice,
and feel the ridge of my throat.
I’ll answer to Harry, or Charlie, or Tom.
Let my bindings unravel, unzip skin from flesh,
and slip into character.
Recycle through masks to find a face.
I want to slide in between parted thighs,
and breathe in open smiles,
To press down against soft curves.
But they teach us to devour,
to break women open and arrange
immobile limbs on a plate
for the world to feast on.
How do you differentiate between
insecurity and desire?
i wanted to find yellow in mechanized trees
that bobbled along the train tracks
weaving in and out of perdition
Wanted a snapshot of scarecrows straddling gravemarkers
or warblers that La Bamba along wheat fields
i wanted the cardiac muscle to compound the minerals
of my body into yellowcake
so that my hands could feed under the heat
To fill my breath with sunlight and trade golden
strands of barley for a crown
Do you think if i stood in a traffic light
i could suck the yellow from go until only a bruise is left
you think i could i crawl into a bruise
The valley wants to map yellow lines in between
my footsteps, but i keep missing the caution signs
Abecedarian: Analyzing Behavioral Conditions During Extremely Futile Gender Hysterics
A man thinks he is entitled to conversations at
bus stop sidewalks and empty parking lots. Thinks a returned smile exists without the
context of listen, sweetheart, I was just trying to be a gentleman and
damn, girl, you ain’t that fine anyways.
Expects his surprise of a woman walking to
Food Maxx at midnight without a male companion to be excused, expects to be
greeted as savior to the gender when
he suggests that the women in question stay home next time
instead trading her safety for a soda.
Just ask the man his views on preventing rape and
keep watch for any suggestion on teaching boys about consent or for
limiting men to their homes after dark unless accompanied by an escort.
Most men aren’t taught to weaponize keys between knuckles,
Not taught to search for cameras in McDonald’s bathroom stalls.
Or told by their mothers to say yes when you really mean no because your
partner might not be willing to tolerate such a marriage.
Quiet acceptance is demanded. So women
roll out a smile, brandishing teeth in place of pepper
spray, so she may evade
that inevitable bitch directed at her. But
until men are stripped of their fists,
voided of their compulsive demands for a
woman’s attention, and washed of their
xenophobic mentality that prevent them from recognizing a grimace from a smile—
you won’t see me feeding these
zealots with a good morning.
About The Author
Erika Ceballos is a student at Fresno City College in Fresno, California. Her work has been published in the Fresno City Review (formerly, the Ram’s Tail). She intends to earn an MFA in Creative Writing and hopes her writing will reflect intersectional and representative feminism.