“Pray the gay away.” New poetry by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

, 20 April 2017


My depression
sleeps soundly
at the foot of
my gender.
There is no escape
from the dull hammer
of imagining
something true.
Once I was at peace.
Then existence
Great sea of fags
dykes & freaks
I crawl out
from thee.
& covered in
fingers I feel
my way towards
any light.
I find a warm
reddish glow
called woman.
She licks my neck
& says
this is what you do
to stay alive.
Once I was cared
for by a family
a self & each day’s
soft morning air.
Then I opened my
mouth & took
what was mine.
No one’s love
would survive
this transformation.




Church bells ring under my skin

              Dad says something about praying the gay away

In the pews I imagine myself with my head
             pushed between anyone’s legs
flying high with magic above the world

             our juices mixing and scattering
                                  inside the clouds
                forming our own clouds

that rain down and beg men to stop being
                               such motherfucking pieces of shit

         Dad walks up and down the hall speaking in tongues
I have nightmares about coming
               to understand this language
I fear my madness will be his madness
         and not the madness of a love unencumbered
by names for flesh, body parts, ways of being—

Make me gayer I plead with god

                                let me pray the gay closer






TRAUMA is one of the four fundamental states of matter

a pure TRAUMA may be made up of individual TRAUMAS

there is also compound TRAUMA made from a variety of TRAUMAS

what distinguishes a TRAUMA from other states is the vast separation

                                        of the individual TRAUMA particles

this separation usually makes a colorless TRAUMA invisible to the human observer

because most TRAUMAS are difficult to observe directly

               they are best described through the use of four physical properties—

                                   pressure, volume, number of TRAUMA particles, and temperature

when describing a container of TRAUMA

                  the term “pressure” refers to the average force per unit area that the TRAUMA exerts

                                   on the surface of the container

as the density of a TRAUMA increases with rising pressure, particles will, in effect

                “stick” to the surface of any object moving through it

if one could observe a TRAUMA under a powerful microscope

              one would see a collection of particles without any definite shape or volume

                                     that are more or less in random motion

                                                         punctuated by violent collisions

                                                                                  rapidly expanding to completely fill their container






Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is a trans woman poet living in California. Her work has been featured in The Feminist Wire, PEN America, The Offing, Lambda Literary, and elsewhere. Her full-length collection THERE SHOULD BE FLOWERS was released by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2016.**