Joshua Jennifer Espinoza


gangrenous love fills everything. a mind made blank
by careless hands turns purple in the sun. the fear

of closeness ripens. she had threatened to split her lips
open while the ocean made sounds in the distance.

every crashing wave gave water to the air as an
offering. the boys were off rolling blunts and laughing

too loud to hear all the violence. time stretches
and folds in on itself. time is a body full of damage

that is constantly trying to forget, though it always
remembers on the long drive home. the freeway is

such a beautiful trigger. machines like cold fruit
falling from city to city until one day they find

the soil. the same soil she moved her fingers through
when she thought of the love she gave away. the love

she held onto. all wrong, all backwards, all pus-
covered memory. she slips into something more

comfortable, another reality. somewhere things are okay.
somewhere she is hacking off old limbs and dreaming

                                                      of velvety silence.

I Don’t Want To Be Understood

i don’t want to be understood
i want to live in the air
with all my sisters
floating free around me
like dandelion seeds
no blood
no language
no speaking
no border between body
and subjectivity
just feeling
pure feeling
leaking out from her skin
while she twirls her hair in her fingers
and blows kisses to the sun
she will fall in love
with the way the star will expand
and eat us
she will not fear death
because she does it every day
when she leaves her house
to walk in front of men
who beg for the tangible
who want to know her
more than she knows herself
and she laughs
remembering how
coming to understand her body
was like reconceptualizing water
how moving through their spaces
was all about displacement
how she became one with me
when she realized
we’d been touching beneath the soil
all along

Loss Ritual

This one involves stretching
the skin until it begins to break.

There is light that escapes, and
light that enters. We call this

an even trade, but I am still
without family. Poured myself

a glass of womanhood and drank
until the bones became enough

to live in. Said you can have this
old thing. I don’t need it anymore.

Lick the salt from its surface. I
don’t need it anymore. I can cry

whenever I want, all it takes is
remembering. You wanted to

be holy and righteous because
this is one path to one kind

of heaven. I wanted to be holy
and righteous because life is short

and sad and we all deserve to be
loved. Even you, alone with your

god. Even me, alone with myself.
Neither as complete as we hoped

the loss would make us.

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is a trans woman poet living in California. Her work has been featured in The Offing, The Feminist Wire, PEN America, and elsewhere. Her first book of poems i’m alive / it hurts / i love it was released through boost house in 2014, and her second collection THERE SHOULD BE FLOWERS was published by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2016.