Ankh Spice

To the man pretending not to cry in the next stall

(after Kim Addonizio)

and how shame’s dirty hands would split you
at the wishbone to think you’re known
by that sound. I’m going to guess:
last time a man crushed any comfort
into the gaps of your unhinge it was
before your dad/his dad/his dad’s dad
said boy you’re too old/too big
for all that fuss. And maybe he didn’t say it
like that, but with every ellipsis his body
added between you… he said it. Craters
split open for all of us on our own walk
through that day, and it’s no man’s-
land from there, and our arms fail—know only
how to stop raising for each other.
If I whispered listen to this tile you’d tear
my witness ears from my head. Who taught you
to keep talking yourself into vast echo
until the heart is a gulped pip and hard ground
the only body left tough enough to receive us,
our sons, and not flinch.  I flat my palm
on the wall, star radiating useless
and silent, another pulse ready to die
years before the light makes it out. Listen.
Nah I can’t say that here. What’s coming for us,
it’s waiting for all the doors we close to open.

Ankh Spice is a queer, sea-obsessed poet from Aotearoa New Zealand, author of The Water Engine (Femme Salvé Books, 2021). His poetry is eight times nominated for Pushcart Prize/Best of the Net, and was joint winner of The Poetry Archive’s PAN 2020 competition, and the Visual Verse 2022 Autumn Writing Prize. He’s a poetry contributing editor at Barren Magazine, and co-edits at IceFloe Press. Website:

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