BONES: poetry by Betsy Housten


the morning after Pride

For me: blood's birth, but bones are fam.

Goes beyond not wanting children. Beyond jettisoning

helixes that mirror mine if they don't make the cut,

any bad seed with similar capillary fluid.

Nothing's what I'm missing. I've got extra cells,

even, my osteoblasts working long hours

building that shit since I found fam. It's a glance

across a bar, every high five in the streets, every wait

to make sure homo has someplace to crash, a way

to get there, get there safe. Every sequin freak in pasties

or a Speedo or a corset – or all three – knows safe's

no guarantee. In us, bones-deep pull of You Are Here,

You Are Home. Oh. Marrow hits a pitch

only bent pick up. Fam sweat smells like flags dragging

through mud, left to dry on a snaggletooth roof

in a stiff wind. Every kinked soul tied up to a fence,

smashed up in a jail, shot up in a club, or worse,

blade or rope or pills from the inside places: my bones ache

something fierce. Never cried at a biology funeral.

Monster. We make fam with our revolting bodies, we knit

together, salt hands tight as we shout cry love rage

dance, no matter who wants us dead, even

when we pen the threats ourselves. It's easy to harden;

the bone ghosts lay with us. This tenderness might

save me. This life might get me killed but I'll go down

kicking, hot mess of calcium and collagen

and matrix rhythms, all snarled. How we fracture's

how we heal. How we keep slipping's why we grip on.

Betsy Housten is a Pushcart-nominated queer writer and massage therapist. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Lonesome October, Ghost City Press, Cold Creek Review, Terse Journal, Cotton Xenomorph, Vagabond City, Bone & Ink Press and elsewhere. She lives in New Orleans, where she pursues her MFA in poetry and tweets @popcorngoblin.


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