Ryan Cook

Self-portrait as Asu in the Gutter

Crossing boroughs during the hurricane, I was off

to give my body to a friend

who wanted it as a man.

I'm good like that, changing

for a friend in need.

Earlier, A hydrangea busked in prospect park.

Suddenly: Rogue Dior and feminine hips.

Suddenly: kissing every person in the tunnel

laughing at how bad they are at kissing.

I walked home stilettos in hand,

what a sunny day that was.

The city streets seeped into my heels

as I listened to each block

bloom into its respective static.

By the time I reached the sewer

I was parched and ready to turn around.

I cupped my hands in drenched supplication,

scooped the muddy eucharist from the drain

and placed it to my lips

It tasted like copper movement.

It tasted like asbestos and gym class.

like cherried salt. It tasted like

like a sour kiss through a chatroom.

And suddenly, I was a bro: My beard and pecs

glistened with rainwater as I burpee’d

all the way to her house, downed a 6-pack

of muscle milk and fucked her in missionary

It’s was so nice, to be wanted and know what I am.

Ryan Cook is a genderqueer Brooklyn-based poet currently getting their MFA in poetry at Columbia University. They have been published in Thimble Literary Magazine, Some Kind of Opening, Lava House Arts, and many others. They are interested in the power dynamics that go into syntax and form. Connect with Ryan on Instagram: @Poems_by_ryan.