Poetry by REXYLAFEMME (rex renee leonowicz)

death traps
by REXYLAFEMME (rex renee leonowicz)

these are the tragedies wrought
by our structures, our suffering cities
on fire, unstructured bodies, spirits
crushed, mangled by buildings
we craft into imperfect homes,
ghost ships, death traps, 
the only homes we have, cut
from safety, space a competition,
our bodies on the streets already a warzone
in oakland, our fault when it fails
us, when it hurts us, when we lose,
when we burn, when we die. 

pain lives, we are no strangers to
flame, scorched earth & witches
like joan taken from us too soon
always a part of what we come from;
we were disposable before this &
the wrong people always hold
the burden of blame, it is always
us & never the forces that made
the circumstances under which
we strive to keep living & don’t &
though grief has wings, s/he settles
in our bones, our blood, our
scarred & patchy skin, generations
grafted into our wiring, what of us
is water & what matter we have
in us marked by moments
like this & every other hurt
lived & un-atoned for.  

there was the fire &
there was everything else before
that & everything after:

never enough rent money,
never enough work,
never enough friendship,
too much fighting each other,
too many people who don’t belong,
too many problems, too much
suffering, too many people
pained & angry, too little
capacity, too much loss
& too much trauma & too much
grief & too little, too late, too
much distance between us 

never enough rooms to hold us, never
enough houses, never enough
food, never enough clothing,
never enough hours, never
enough days, never enough
support, never enough therapy,
never enough insurance
of any kind,
never enough booze & drugs,
never enough dancing,
never enough dinners, never
enough coming together
never enough music or art
that meant something, never
enough love, never enough
empathy, never enough
escapes, never enough
space, never enough exits,
never enough plans,
never enough solutions,
never enough help from
those who could give it,
never enough money,
never enough care.

 & what we were already
prepared for: loss &
death—2017’s demons’ nostrils
already flaring ahead
of us, we were not prepared
for: sudden onslaught today, senseless
but not unprecedented &
watching from afar—across
the street, across the lake, or across
the country from brooklyn
seeing the name of someone
you kissed once at a similar
party—MISSING, and sinking.
seeing the name of someone you
loved once at a similar party—
SAFE, and breathing out
relief, as the hot tears
rage anyway.

 the ebb & flow of
trudging through rubble, of
sucking in dust
of sailing along
choppy waters
of our tragedies,
every day a new
obstacle, a new
setback, a new
hope that flickers
on & off with
the strength or
gentleness of wind
that doesn’t care
either way
it blows.

 why
is a crooked
letter, an irrelevant question, why
is useless & now
is (in)consequential
now is a shoulder
shrugged & a slumped
homebody curling
up in a comforter
while feeling
impossible, hands
thrown up to circumstance
& coming up with nothing,

 undoing nothing while
all is undone around us,
who is gone & who is here, &
what will be done
& how will we talk about it,
who will we turn to, & who
will turn away, who will
get hurt more, who will be
destroyed & who will
be safe, heard, held, loved?

 how do we live now?
how do we survive
by each other,
how can grief fly?


REXYLAFEMME (rex renée leonowicz) is a visual + performing artist, writer, and singer/songwriter born and raised in Jackson Heights, Queens. As a working class trans femme, rex’s work is grounded in a politics of radical resistance, healing, and witness. rex blends genders and genres, utilizing drag, comedy, visual art, and burlesque, to critically respond to the relationships people “on the margins” have with our surroundings and each other. rex's book of poems and illustrations, when there is no one and there is everyone is available from Magic Helicopter Press. rex is also a practicing witch and offers spiritual readings and mentorship with a focus on radical occultism. S/he was a 2017 EmergeNYC Performance Fellow with the Hemispheric Institute at NYU, has an MFA in Poetry from Mills College, and a BA in Gender Studies and Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College. Find rex online at www.rexylafemme.com

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