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Chase Berggrun

who shall deny me my martyrdom I am / the lowest of saints with my white nostrils

The streets are lousy with looks &

there's something in the air
it's sweet it makes me spit
& I walk slowly & cover up my face
I confess: there were times
when I came out of the coma
undressed & full of breath I awoke
while you turned your head to cough
& fell back into death quickly before you saw
there were times when I
fluttered through space like an extinct fish
& brought home food to my family
half-dead & dripping from my jaw
I saved none for myself
who shall deny me my martyrdom I am
the lowest of saints with my white nostrils
moving snakelike through the city
my hands are shaking with the new
I gather blood & spread it
matron saint of powder
momentary pleasure the pith of my life's work
I carved a line of Mayakovsky's into my shoulder
I am still alive & shaking & loud
I turn on myself & start to cut away
until I stand a speaking skeleton I am here to entertain you
I am incurable
I jump into the river & roar
underneath the winter
weaving the uncomfortable fabric of the future
out of my excess
I pull a softer thread
the old well beckons
out in the open & exposed
I am waiting here
I've done all my remembering
though I did not want to I stood still
then sink spill swallow skin
skin the space between living & terror the horizon
the shimmering of drugs
the hour of noon & the sandglass
I get hard
high on all this waiting
I would gladly do it all again
I have not eaten & will not
today I am the apology I was made to beg for
today the whole traincar disapproves of my dress
today I rest easy
the eternal return is all that's on my mind
I am doomed to kiss you indefinitely
sad strange quiet girl inside of me I know you are listening
that's the word I unfolded from

Chase Berggrun is a non-binary trans poet and the author of Discontent and Its Civilizations: Poems of Erasure, winner of the 2012 jubilat Chapbook Contest, and their work has been published in The Offing, Prelude, inter|rupture, Apogee, No Tokens, Cosmonauts Avenue, BOAAT, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. They are Poetry Editor at Washington Square Review and Swarm Quarterly, and an MFA candidate in Poetry at NYU.