[heavy flower]

for Rachel Engelman

She’s says ​our lives are solid​.
I tell her I like that image. Our lives
not floating away. But there is some
pain in being solid. You are often likened
to a stone, more than firm. & you rebut
change. ​That makes people not invite
me to parties​, she says. I think we’re
a party, the two of us sitting outside
a french bakery. The gravel beneath
our feet crackles. I tell her about
someone who doesn’t love me.
& one of us cries. She says ​admit it,
if you were really stone, you’d drown.
I tell her that I want to be a flower.
One of us refills the wine glasses. One
of us pulls apart the bread. One of us
goes home, sleeps like a heavy flower.

.

.

YOUR HANDS ARE A RIVER

To love yourself is
to be a great river.

Impossible journey
that I know very little of.

Of pioneers, rushing
to the sight of their

own legs. Of lax jaws
in winter. I purify

what god has put
between my legs,

this curse, on the bank
of a river. I’m dark

& distant as the Nile,
Moses traveling along

in a basket, not knowing
where he’ll end up. Thinking

Are rivers courageous?
To love yourself,

to act swift
& be attentive

of the way the belly
sways in the evenings.

I only just learned of
decent currents. Snapping

turtles waiting for small
things to catch

& hold. To love yourself
in winter, at noon, when

the light is leaving
the small bed I occupy.

I let my dark lips
whisper what pleasure

contains, paradise of
untamed creature-

untamed because
they simply want to.

Jagged rocks,
enemy to progress.

To love yourself
is to love the rough

progression, to hold
the leaping salmon,

to cull a bear
to your side.

Wild,
I cannot forget,

is a river.

.

.

RELIGION

I’m starting a new religion.
We only worship things that are green.

Each morning, we take a pill. Each night, we take
another. We say snappy things, quips, impressions.

Sayings we’ll know will dig. But we always wait
for a smile. That’s a rule. Always wait for a smile.

The danger of failing is required holy text. Here,
the soft dim of sunset is praise. Scripture tells us

to strain the neck forward while the body stands
still. We will worship your hand accidentally touching

my knee. How holy is the soft touch of the one you
love. & the one who loves you. Don’t forget to pray.

Say O small grape. O ballast heart. We believe in you.
& we will feel better. Not worshipping the same bleached

knees. Isn’t life grand? I know- I hate to think that too.
But look at birds. & the roaches. Aren’t they weird? They

worship nothing at all. I think reincarnation is nice.
We were all birds once. Now we can worship each

person’s hands sitting in their pockets. I want today &
tomorrow to not catch me in the same way. To make

me over each morning. Hope is eternal longing. Faith is,
a garbage bag, no matter how overstuffed, won’t break.

Travis Tate is a queer, black playwright, poet and performer from Austin, Texas. Their poetry has appeared in Borderlands:Texas Poetry ReviewUnderblongMr. Ma’amapt, and forthcoming in Longleaf Review.Their plays include It’s A Travesty! One Night With Jazzie MercadoMotherWitch, and Queen of The Night. You can find more about them at travisltate.com.