Torrin A. Greathouse


“you have any idea how hard it is to shout inside of your own mouth?”
“you know what its like to choke down the gasoline that drips
from my tongue every time someone hijacks this whole
body & names it the wrong shape?”
“i am cracking our ribs & spreading our hips like wings. when
will i find a shape that you are ready to fit yourself inside?”
“i was the first clothing you ever wore & i will always fit these
bones, no matter how much you wish they would break
& fall away.”
“some days i wonder if you are learning to love your threadbare
skin, or just searching for a hole big enough to escape through.”
“you pushed our calloused fingertips across the glittering ice
of your phone screen, typed i feel like a ghost inside of this body
& i felt myself begin to pass through everything you touch.”
“if you are a ghost, then what am i? is there nothing left of me
but chains? am i a holey sheet that you will throw away
when this cold night ends?”
“our hands have bled so many times from the way you have taught
them to ghost through walls. if i am your home, will i too learn
your knuckles’ kiss? learn what it means to be passed through?”
“i’m sorry. i cannot witch-craft this skin into woman, i can’t sew
tight all the places where it feels too large & yes, i know, woman is
not the place you intend to arrive, but it is once step closer to
the destination.”
“i’m sorry. i can’t worship these bones into water. shape-shift
at will. give you the body you dream of when i am sleeping.”
“i’m sorry, beautiful.”
“i’m sorry.”


my skin reimagines itself as silver screens more fishscale than flesh projector's light framing my
body like cross-hairs eyes torch-mob bright i am walking down the street & people are crossing it
to escape from me in a child's mind the only thing that could paint lips this shade is someone else's
blood this is not why their parents are afraid

what do they see the first time they look me in the eyes?

a) a man
b) a woman
c) something in between d) none of the above

since i was a child i have been obsessed with monsters sneaking down into the living room at night
& letting the red light of blood stained screens wash over me the volume turned so low i could
barely hear their screams there was something about the way they could paint a person into
anything the body othered from itself but the best monsters were always the ones that looked a
little too much like me

you paint your body into whichever monster you know best:

a) vampire—lips dripped in red & eyes draped in black wings
b) zombie—something less than human but made from the same parts
c) werewolf—the horror of body becoming something else
d) ghost—the way you empty yourself from this skin

i see myself sewn to the screen buried in the bodies of monsters shackled to the the dark inside of
their skin closed closet tight around them just queer enough to be hated never enough to show love
it's no wonder children are afraid of me when i walk the streets when they are taught to fear freaks
& villain is so much like me

what do they see the first time they see me without a screen between us?

a) a collection of puncture marks where skin has swallowed pitchforks & wooden stakes
b) fire blooming technicolor gold—the way that nothing’s ever left when the curtain falls
c) a chest that opens like a door & lines its frame in silver teeth
d) the hollow wind above a grave


crooked smile / chipped teeth // standing here looking like i wasn't born /
with this grin // & maybe i wasn't / maybe i cut it in / when i first learned
the hunger of speech // & this mouth curses / profanes / & yes, i kiss
my mother with this mouth / & yes, i once kissed a pistol with this mouth /
[& no, it did not return the favor] // & i have felt my voice curl up & cower
in the closet of this throat / for so long // but this mouth can make a body remember /
every syllable in god's name / & ain't there something holy about that? //
the way i kneel / way he leans back / offers communion / no bread / just body
this time // ain't that holy? / ain't that a prayer? // the way i give up breathing /
for that moment of rapture / & haven't been to church in a long time / maybe
this is 'cause i found a prayer / that the body answers //

torrin a. greathouse is a transfeminine nonbinary, cripple-punk, queer-do from Southern California, and a Co-Founder of Black Napkin Press. Their work has been published or is upcoming in Rust + Moth, TQ Review, The Feminist Wire, Caliban Online, & Glass.