Poetry by TC Tolbert



for madeline


I go back to that no and I sing from it.
I practice epilogue: needlethreadepi-
thelium.  As what constitutes mean is the
variance.  Perhaps I fly hollow.  Into
some you, then.  And rest.  And where will the drama
queen darling?  My tongue is thin without your tongue
to build a team on.  Because we have been there,
dear Ranger.  Let me punt to you.  Face first is
the new tyranny of winged-ness.  We were
a Jerusalem of avalanches gone
cleanly.  Grip the resting heart, wresting.  (Love, rest.)


Pre-existential condition:  we.  Victim-
ized and plural and.  I will say you until
I break it.  I will say it.  Your father
drove while you slid your hand out the window.  What
became a roof with no house, just some sky.  We
barter what we witness.  Because I can for-
give what forgives not forgets.  This is a house
on fire.  I will say it.  You are changing.  You
are not never there.  And what will shame me in
to breathing if I lose you.  And what will pre-
sent tense if not corroborate with the past.


[this will always be the bathroom where I fucked
you where I fuck you where I fuck you where I
pee this fucking goes ongoing fuck with me
fucking you memory by member I re-
member you dick will do that dick will
barter baby’s restless call it the blue year
dick will dip you dick will slip you dick will knee
who told you momma may be an omnivore
but she always comes home to eat I got your
gruel right here baby fire me that’s what she said
I see fuck too much this fucking fuck with me]


I hesitate to use the phrase palm tree
because palm tree is so Miami.  Nonethe-
less. Palm trees are indicative of regret.
When the palm tree does what it is doing now.
A thing anthropomorphic and lovingly
to my back.  This happened in Fayetteville once
but, horticulture being what it is, the
palm tree lost by popular vote.  There is no-
thing more humiliating than replacement.
To quote Eric Magrane, I’m not certain why
(you, me) we conceived in this order the world.


Where does coffee enjoy you in your new home?
I am a guest.  And as such I will be mis-
taken.  The porch chair disintegrated and.
With it the severalties abated. I
cannot say I miss her.  I can, however,
own up to what I did to the chair.  Can you
masturbate?  No, never.  Memory is use-
less.  Still. Her hand was a chronology of
irrevocable.  The shape of happiness.
I imagined 4 trillion lost cells inside
it: nevering and the press back of the ear.


And please that we not clobber nor posture.  Plead
fists that forget their fists and drive up dumbly
inside.  Praise the devil right out of my hands
and pray he leaves hard.  Pray a house on fire and
praise the mouth that surely claims it.  I say you.
Pray it down.  Pray it over.  Pray it back.  It’s
an old story, babe.  And I can safely say
I lean on it.  Dear so and so.  I’m sorry
I brought the megaphone to your calling hours.
Pray blinding.  Praise faith without cleaving.  Pray pre-
sent tense is not an admission of that theft.


Last night when I looked at you there was a you
looking back and she was dreamy.  And by dream-
y I do not mean dream-like but thick.  I miss
your shoulders.  You know how all wet I get for
all things disparate.  The teeth not teeth and did
you cut yourself your hair hidden or the hat.
This peeping on you is irregular but
consistent.  In 08, “overshare” was the
new word of the year.  If precipitant then.
Then reason says rest.  Implicate agent or
agency.  Retract.  retractretractgenuflect.


Not face never over do not send that.  I
called you a whore and I scared.  Scared face, do no
over.  Scared scared.  A body con no not fist
it.  A body con not never there.  Would you
be my noose?  Never darling.  Noose you nicely.
Would you lungs on?  Breasts on?  Never face me?  I
called you a whore, you noose, try by me.  Never.
Con face scared.  Share.  A body called fist loose me
tightly.  You darling con do not wish me there.
Lungs, will you?  (scared)  Will you? (whore) Scared.  Never.  Noose
fist nicely.  Never con never loose fist share.


This is a house under fire.  Lovely.  I will
say you.  When I say you my dick hurts.  I am
a dick.  I am a sex addict.  My dick hurts.
When I say you I’m not between.  I am hung.
This is a house from fire – say you.  I’m not stop
say you.  After fire.  Nearing fire.  Among.  I
will say you fire say you until I break you.
Saying you fire playing you I am alone.
Stay stay you not lay you. I am a sex ad-
dict.  I am celibate.  I am bent over
a fire and I am offering it my lungs.


Thin is tongue wing-ed, not not birds.  There been have
wresting heart, resting – gone cleanly.  Oh build us
Jerusalem in our tongues, steal us seamly.
Build us out of no build us into first build
the epilogue build the hollow hollow wall.
Tiny bathroom the be will always the be
will dip you and dip you forget not sky.  Home.
Cleaving without faith, praise (home) blinding.  Praise teeth
not teeth, you can chair.  Your to brought sorry am
I so and so, pray I leave hard.  Your to were
tyranny, grip the wrestless.  build build love (rest)


The body is a tiny pool, a pool one
expects to see the bottom of.  The woman
came and went with many different objects in
her mouth.  The conclusive shape of happiness
is a triangle.  We are mostly not birds.
Confession is the logical opposite
of light.  The body is proximity we
mistake for proximity.  If the theory
is that misogyny is throat culture.  For
people with mothers.  I take it back.  I have
to give it to you.  But, first. I take it back.



TC Tolbert is a genderqueer, feminist poet and teacher committed to social justice. S/he is the Assistant Director of Casa Libre en la Solana and an Adjunct Instructor at The University of Arizona and Pima Community College. S/he is the creator of Made for Flight, a youth empowerment project that utilizes creative writing and kite building to commemorate murdered transgender people and to dismantle homophobia and transphobia. TC’s chapbook, territories of folding, was recently published by Kore Press. His poems can be found in Volt, The Pinch, Drunken Boat, Shampoo, A Trunk of Delirium, jubilat, and EOAGH. His work won the Arizona Statewide Poetry Competition in 2010 and was a Sawtooth finalist in 2009 and 2010. His first full length collection, Gephyromania, is forthcoming from Ahsahta Press. TC is co-editor, along with Tim (Trace) Peterson, of the forthcoming Anthology of Trans and Genderqueer Poetry (EOAGH Books). www.tctolbert.com

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