Poetry by Matt Mitchell

Art by Joe Steinman




Monday night, Johnny in the turntable 
saying I am an old woman named after my mother,  

as my hourglass body plumps into the shape of a bullet. 
Clintonville dusk heavy, jarflies swarm the Fifth Third Bank ATM 
across the street. kids skateboarding down their front yard sidewalk, 
they all remind me of the brother Mom & Dad couldn’t conceive.  

there’s a hole in the sky where my body fell from, 
& like a doorway I too am the hope before an empty room.  

airplanes & storks fly low above our apartment, 
bird shit proudly sticks to every parking lot windshield but mine.

all the people we know are having babies. 
Tuesday morning, you take us to get vaccinated near Ohio Stadium.

we come home, I lather testosterone onto a blade of shoulder. 
because what is an immune system response suppressant but

an avalanche soon curdled into wind. 
I have been living on cheated time long before we gave it a name.

is infertility hereditary? I don’t know. probably not. maybe! 
but the testosterone could make me stroke out at any moment.

my whole heart could burst into smithereens from enanthate shock. 
I truly am only a husband when the one-use needle gives me permission.

& to be a father, that would require eggs, sperm, an incubator, 
& naive faith. when I say I love you, it is sometimes

because we have fallen into each other & are glowingly stuck like so. 
you say we will do whatever it takes, no matter the cost.

we step outside, unmasked. I flash my tits at oncoming traffic. 
you dance yourself into a fart & then we laugh.

in a stolen sky, the clouds look like faces. the years blow by, 
and of course our cells still remember





on the hospital questionnaire I list my sex 
as Cum On Feel the Noize by Quiet Riot,  

46xx chromosomes running on a barbed wire junior varsity track. 
a Canadian tuxedo if a Canadian tuxedo was instead  

              a Canadian glacier gone and thawed.  

    beneath the nebula of a throat where an Adam’s apple once corked, an ecotone. 
homesick for Hollywood, yada etc., as if any of it were ever mine to begin with.  

I am a pathological liar. the testosterone never worked, 
    I just shook all the rocks out of my shoes  

and a mirror then showed me the thin of a mustache.  

when I said I was only half a man without you, I meant you. 
not the Xyosted or the AndroGel or the placebo.  

my hair is receding towards the clouds, but under the sand 
of a forehead there you still are  

    and there you still are glowing. 
    as if recession is progress,  

              as if a cut of skin could be so pale 
like a birthmark sunbathing on a moon, as if and then again.
now, they put a needle in my testicles and pull out a maybe. 
soon, our combined latching on such little chance. 
then, a brand new baby boy may arrive breached 
but we will raise him up to the heavens to get a good look anyways.  

                        because a part of you and a part of me, 
              our modern miracle sunny side up. 
              despite being scared to death of cracking his head like an egg, 
              Richard says there will be hole in his chest where our hearts fit perfectly. 
    forever entwined by the inexplicable probability of us 
    being soulmates even in fertilization.  

    the three of us, we’ll cut up the rug. 
    we’ll get wild wild wild. come on.  

[when Papaw watched a tornado send a 2x4 through the gut of a cow, 
he then became propelled by the wind himself,  

              as if straw pushing into the chest of a tree 
    while 103 people died around him.  

                        his daddy told him there’s an ocean trapped beneath Appalachia. 
    so by the corn cellar, he and his siblings tapped their fists against the ground
like a knock. the smell of cold-packed meat sweat through the grass 
              and they all thought it was water.  

              to be tough as muscle then harvested for salt: 

     how could you possibly hold such a thing,






we are most like animals not when we argue 
but afterwards, during the faintest pull of quiet 
our apartment chooses to spare, 
when the autumn of lamplight breaks against our eyes, 
& there’s a wet on our cheeks we call oxygen  

in the same way early settlers came to shore 
& saw bison & called them buffalo 
400 years later we call the bison buffalo  
            & the buffalo extinct  

from the California zebra escaping the Hearst property 
to the Pennsylvania carrier pigeon picketing the mail, 
they will only say you are gone 
once they mistake you for living  
                                on your own terms  

it takes my face 8 years to partially cover itself in hair, 
I don’t want to imagine what my heart is incapable of  

but when Joey says 
there are 7 other people in this world who look just like me, 
I ask did god forget to add the ovaries to them, too 
with my all of my chest  

this land was made for you & me, in that 
anything you name is now that but eternally  

in that we are most like animals not when we die but 
when they bury us with buttplugs in, 
as if they are trying to keep what’s extinct locked inside


Matt Mitchell is a writer living in Columbus, Ohio. He is the author of The Neon Hollywood Cowboy (Big Lucks, 2021) and Vampire Burrito (Grieveland, 2022). Find him on Twitter @matt_mitchell48.