Poetry by Sar Schaff


*after a professor and her language

i live in what once was rubber tree. i know this
because when i menstruate i receive one thousand
paper cuts to a soul*, & that is something inhumane.
how many times i bleed & bind, mask a month and
then another. a knee burn prayer for a child who is a
mirror – where are the young born with no nipples.
face without mouth. why can’t breast milk spill away
premature ears. name me a metronome of what’s left
& late. i hunger for bleedy breasts, nothing more. just
one woman. just one.


do not want to break
mother’s bones

frail shoulder
stuck in birth canal

a baby is just
a thing

knows no name
dumb as oak

turns out
survival instinct

is jaded
like gun metal or plastic

or mother’s bones
do not want mother

to zip the tarp
stitch rubber eyes

wheel away
the gurney

a nine-pound coffin
the color bleach

turns out mother
wants stillbirth  

a baby to bleed
these things


From The Womb, Maybe

someone told me 40% of non-binary[1]
humans kill themselves. i cry

for our genitalia. i see a younger me
in my mother's wrinkled face. i don’t know

if i am the girl the baby books sold. i still
weep for my 15-year young splintered  

heart. the caked gold eyeshadow
and clumpy mascara. i try

on different versions
of myself in an extra small[2].

my blood tongue sharp like the blades
of a garbage disposal. i’m cut.

i’m a child that wants to be a child.
i’m a child that wants to be a child.

this chest[3] so heavy i can’t write                                                                                  
a simile. the mirror my red purgatory.  

all the mothers, fathers, wives, brothers, sisters, girlfriend, nephew, dude, aunt, girls, man-
cave, niece, boyfriend, girl talk, dudes,  grandpa, grandma, bathrooms,             passing[4]                 

she, her, him, his
might save a pistol

saving a body
by trying them[5].  

mother, will you hold me mother[6]?
teach me how to walk or speak.

i don’t know how no more.
i’m in a bar eating wings.

the waitress[7] asks “anything else,
ladies[8]?” i cling to my childhood rope swing[9].

[1] transgender
[2] reference: short hair 2015 = shame; i look like a boy / short hair 2019 = liberation; i look like a boy
[3] these breasts
[4] do you know what i mean?
[5] pronoun: singular they = old (dated before 18th century) singular they = ‘new’ (NB, GNC)
[6] father, will you hold me father?
[7] could be waiter
[8] i’m cut
[9] i cling to my childhood rope swing

to say is to truth


 this morning. no beard & broke coat
digging in the trash bin. no bike
spokes spin or cars gruff. all ice

 & wet eyes. breathe. release.
smoke trail. must morning glow.
inhale. release. 


mother asks if i think of suicide.
i say i’m tired. i’m in pain. i hurt. nothing
helps. nothing. all shit you hear about killing
yourself true. & then more. tell me guns,
i tell you war. friend of friend                   dead.
tell me bridge, i tell you far. tell me pills or
knife or train or rope or tower. tell me & i say 

i do.      i do.      i do.      i do.      i do.      i do.      i do.               i do.      i


all eyes & glow. breath like stingy smoke.
lungs & broke coat. black fog & ice gruff.
release. inhale

Road Sign

against drunk driving.
cats live nine. i die with

how many times can a
blood fist hit. some
knuckle & band-aid.

just enough bruise &
piss to play corpse
lottery. the cost: all this

face. cup size, father,
body i do not own. i am
forever your 

American  Girl  Doll.
faux fur or that last
teenage summer. stick

 a pretty needle in my
belly & i will  forever
be your

 American Girl Doll.
tell me if that sounds to

tell me if that sounds.


a song you sing
for adriana

 my bone             like blood   orange.  you sew
me. a fragment,   a morning dream. once,   in  your  leather               
hyde   – the cage of  your  cavity – a   hung up-dry    out  
journal note.   so yes,    i worry –

i am too raw      too tough –  might bend, bleed,  
the         rule (d)               lines,   the read of my   grimy palm.  i’m new
like a quick rug burn,      a knocked   elbow.  a florida  flood  is  just
water   you  boil.      i  sink.  

each sunday  i see you   in the  mirror.  you are a photograph,   a black/white  
film.  thought you  up       as child.     as clocks.               wound to
a moment. a  mirror.  the outline   of your dark  skin.   i never thought                like this.

                                                                                                 i see you                      clear                   now.

 how your   eyes hurt the way your mother’s  god   hurts.     
i’m new.  think i   no you            before    i   know you.  think
this is                  love       i neverdid ,  never   could .
this is  a song   you       sing,      i call it
honey bee  &   salt rain.

Sar Schaff is a non-binary queer poet from Boise, Idaho. They have previously been published in The Wild Word, Juke Joint Mag, Barren Magazine, among others. They enjoy silly socks.

Kristi DiLalloComment