The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2022

All Issues
APRIL 2022 Issue


I Couldn't Have John Cusack So I Bought the Coat Myself

Look at this crazy photo I took of my arm

Doesn’t it look broken?

But mommy watch this one is dangerous for us

We’ll read it together

Is that a boy or a girl?

The puppy in the book? Or my own finger pointed back at my taped-down chest?
You’re gonna let your kid take this one right? I want to blame you for living near so many queer people and not teaching your kid what it looks like to be more than either-or, but I’m too busy negotiating the joys and pitfalls of a brand new visibility and telling you your total with tax.

I’ve been trying to write this poem about my shadow becoming a man before I do and the way that I’ve been scared of the image of him that follows me around. It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to feel yourself becoming something you aren’t done being scared of yet.

I ask my brothers where they buy their boxers and I want to ask if they ever catch their reflection in the deli window and slide their house keys between their knuckles.

Jam on sourdough toast with coffee. Leftover wonton soup and a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats. A chicken burrito.

I’ve been having all these dreams about kids with dietary restrictions and tsunamis.

I cry: from the wind, late to meet Kayhl at the park, I touch the tear where it falls and look at my hand where it's wet, checking for something.

This morning I’ve paid my rent and brushed my teeth and I can’t remember my dreams.

I cry: nearly the whole time, and no time else.

I wake up to my alarms, feeling that I was meant to get a set of books for someone, bound by rubber bands.

Two donuts, one for breakfast, one for dinner. A meatball sub. Four slices of pineapple.

I cry: listening to Elvis and looking at my shadow in the 3pm light. It looks like me when I was 8, the first haircut. I remember the day at camp when Brad Adair thought I was a boy, when I was wearing the yellow fleece.

I think I slept through the whole night.

A Nausea in Four Acts

I am shelving the poets by name and feeling the sounds of want hit my stomach and guts like bricks
or hockey pucks or arcade coins
shifting into a thick
oily liquid
knocking against my ribs
settling in the canoe of my groin
and up again

like bile or something

I am sitting in the R train on my way to 36th street and fourth avenue, listening and noise-canceling, and I have the thought, which I write into the wrong notebook—“It should have been me and it was.” Meaning that, during, Mia and I were in the kitchen and she asked me and I told her. That if someone were going to feel this—the rising bile, the arcade coins—that I would rather it be me. And it was, and it is.

Looking at the exit sign to the right of screen 3 at the Angelika on West Houston, I repeat these words, to a new, real, imaginary, possible audience, so as not to forget them, unable to light my phone screen with my notes app—“I’m getting my hair cut in 7 days, do you think you’ll like it?” And I’m thinking that the tense here is interesting, like “tell us one thing you learned and one thing you forgot.”

I feel the dawning of a new perspective, watching the first-person slow TV livestreamed from behind my multi-focals, over the heads of every body in front of me, of these two people who I am not, never have been, and never will be. I remember, calmly and without catch, standing so close and looking up and letting the cliche collect in the outer corners of my eyes, counting to three into their mouth and running opposite directions, listening and shouting over my shoulder, knowing it all brand-new.

Dregs of a Daughter

I am a daughter born so that the world can have a daughter.
I am a daughter who breathes so the world can breathe.

The world sat with her legs upside down with
half of the daughter that she needed
dripping down her thighs. The world
threw out all the tabloids when
I became the daughter with a
body and a belly.

The world learned about daughters after I was only
half a daughter anymore. The world
brought me to a wedding and asked if the word daughter
still fit me. It is turtleneck-itchy and
I stand with my back hunched outside the fitting room
so that she will see that it doesn’t wear me right.

The world called to ask if I was going to
cut up the daughter parts of me and she cried
scared and relieved when I lied and promised I wouldn’t.

I am a daughter who stays a daughter so the world can see a daughter grow out of her.

I’ve been on this train for hours. My body is just
left of center; I keep it in my knuckles and my lungs.
I’ve been on this train for hours and
I want to write a poem but I don’t remember how.
I want to write a poem because I don’t think I can. I remember
telling children to start with a list.

I’ve been on this train for hours.
I’ve been on this train for hours and I’ve been talking
all the time, inside and out.
I’ve been on this train for hours and it doesn’t stop
moving or it has never moved.
I’ve been on this train for hours and I’ve been thinking
about the feeling of being on it forever and
what people will call me this whole time.


Tyhe Cooper

Tyhe Cooper is a writer working in experimental prose, poetry, and digitality. They are the Production Editor and a poetry events curator at the Brooklyn Rail.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2022

All Issues