Now—after time—I am willing to admit


Read by the author

I was a dumb child/mom named me/prima donna we walked by/the aisles of shoddy plastic & vinyl all that/Big Lots offers I thought/it was a dinosaur/my arms spread out so big/finger wings brushing the discounts/I’m a pterodactyl/but too small to touch both/the As Seen On TV deals and the styrofoam coolers/ziggy-zaggy from one to one/sitting on the smooth enamel shelves/in poems right now, it’s cool to/love & embrace your flawed parents/fine, I admit I had to look up/the spelling of pterodactyl/the spelling of prima donna mom/you were right I never/knew the word prima donna/means female lead mom you/were a man in the straightaway/in Big Lots I’ve retrofitted your bargain/tits the clearance dresses and thin but good hair/in this memory & this poem/I won’t show you/we dreamed, the both of us/of soaring with our arms open/to the world our throats/open leaking out the poor/noise of/ triumph

Justin Burnell is queer, Appalachian, white trash. He is writing a book about growing up with his trans mom. His work has appeared in Guernica, Columbia Journal, The New Guard Review, and Electric Lit.

Image Credit: “Listening to Old CD Mixes,” Christine Stoddard aka Luna Lark

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