Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Volume 7, Issue 2
spring 2017
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Moe Gardner
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

Visiting Professor: Trace Peterson

No One Could See the Vast Crowd
by Trace Peterson

This is a working sentence.
Someone walks by.
Three sentences standing around bonding.
Terrible, terrible sentences.
The third sentence resents the fourth sentence more than the fifth.
Sitting in a late cafe crying.
Trying to stare down carbs with the mistress’s tools.
A panoply of belated newsprint.
A drain stopper with a dripping faucet.
Coming in and coming out of the same entrance marked urgent.
Paragraphs concealing whole illegal phrases.
You marked me like this.
Your flesh was a Styrofoam packing glitch.
My flesh was plastic rotary phone alimony.
I carried about you into my term limits.
No one could see the vast crowd.
Is my protection really there.
Is my storm drain a liar, I said, a lair.
If you can hear the sound of my voice.
If you can weep.
Who seek the quiet non-quiet ingénue
showing up with awareness strapped to her back
and frills, and seasonless outhouse-amending night.
If you can swallow a horse pill.
If you can correct the record so it
flips closed. If you can barrel through the legislation
with a fringe. Pages and pages
betray one another on a whim.
Stand up to the breaker maybe.
The surface is grime. The spandrels
a delicate balance. The fasces
that made our avarice great.
They entrap a womb to leverage mani-pedi channels
Actually, I don't have a mani-pedi lack.
Resistance comes back.
The tumbling locrian meathouse of our maker
our grower, our pretender.
Very very very very very very.
To flatten out the stomach acid.
To paint the birds closed.
A public forest of intangible treeless forms
applauding their ascension. The recycle
bin moves me to tears like a
second chance for ampersand hearts.
A lariat and a missile shield.
What is this poem really about, Trace. Well,
last week you died. You did.
Everything was getting so concrete.
I didn't know you were going to leave
and the medium was keeping us apart.
A panoply of belated newsprint.
Sitting in a late cafe crying.
I discover just as you have become
a signal rushing through a wire signing off.
People are not words or sentences.
I hate social media. You were so
positive and I argued back continually.
If the floor pulled out with each new
memory blaming a distraction.
How many more will die. When does
the surrealism dry up completely.
If you can hear the sound of my voice
tonight I'm at a protest march in the cold.
In socialist realist syntax I am shouting
up at a distant apartment window trying
to provoke any action from a
complacent person in power.

Published by permission from Boston Review


Trace Peterson joined WGSS this spring to teach Transgender Cultural Production. Trace is a scholar and poet. Her research interests include transgender literature, transfeminism, 20th and 21st century literature, creative writing, and poetry and poetics. She recently designed and taught an innovative course dedicated to transgender poetry in the English Department at Hunter College in 2015.  She is the author of the poetry book Since I Moved In (Chax Press, 2007), and numerous chabooks, and is Editor/Publisher of EOAGH Books, a small press which won the first Lambda Literary Award in Transgender Poetry this year for Succubus in My Pocket by kari edwards. Peterson is co-editor of the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books 2013/2015) which was a Lambda Award Finalist in 2014 and is now in its second printing, and she recently also co-edited Arrive on Wave: Collected Poems of Gil Ott (Chax Press, 2016). Her recent scholarship appears in the peer-reviewed journal TSQ and forthcoming edited collections on contemporary queer poetics, and her recent poetry appears in The Best American Experimental Poetry 2016 (Wesleyan University Press) and online at the Academy of American Poets (poets.org).

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