Jamie Townsend


What writes down ‘vanish’ and then worries that ‘varnish’ might have been more truthful; at least prettier – from where I sit, exactly what’s the difference between the two? ~ Denise Riley


Femme I said, and we say femme as a form of echolocation. Rachel Kushner’s Debbie Harry: “heart ache with the yearning I felt which was not for her but to be her.” Unknowingly femme some kind of ribbon through what we imagine ribbon is femme or at least less overtly mask winking ribbon is we ribbon, femme and unwound again. I look like a bra, a girly restraint flightless, earthbound as shadow. The residue of a former boyishness dripping salty and forlorn. For once, though it splintered and the lack was a rainbow splintering us our overabundance into a flashy strata. Lace veil between the window to the outside vacuum then window again. The trouble of describing it openly. Unlace, ribbon, vacuum, whiteout. “Concentrating on beauty as if it were a vanishing point.” Let’s start again. Yes.

At the beginning of the year we all changed our names at the same time, enmeshed as we, as we ventured tentatively out into this queer newness not new but newly proximate, intimate and fraught. I kept misgendering them we kept misgendering us, so the end of what we could say with assurance was perpetual. We comment together breathing in something that is not quite conversation. Atmospheric. It spins us out.

“We” mirrors its nature in a clean curve of green lipstick curve applied liberally in several layers. We realize this image is abstract and lament the inability to clarify from any position. Where the cosmetic emerges. No, not yet. Not completely. So our body dreamed as all points of contact, slithering and doubling back. Lacy floral stretched across my flat chest. A pussy dilating in our ass in our mouth in our oscillating third eye reaching for something that is not mine to identify or understand, is not a they. Grammar check lines and impressions of elastic and closeness we make we made excuses realizing it’s not subjective our body not an object either, though sometimes secretly we dream it.

The writing on the wall. Shade and shadow. Orientation of shadow and shade. Our femme fatale, an abalone shadow on the snow. Milk stains on a white tee. I am the problem of language manifesting. Given space. Against the vertical we trickle down now know the edge of dream dissolving into a false authority. Ruined pillar in a downpour. Not a finery, a granular splendor. Glamor says look at the flowers the flowers, we neither nor spin nor toil I read like a mantra of a femme demigod, a lace of overlapping voices. A ribbon of them, buried in the dirt a spool of ribbon a ribbon of dirt. Not blind but unspecified, clothed in some sense of finery that matches what we image ourselves to be.

Jamie Townsend is a genderqueer poet living in Oakland. They are the author of the books Shade (Elis Press) and Sex Machines (speCt!). They are also the editor of Beautiful Aliens: A Steve Abbott Reader (Nightboat) and Libertines in the Ante-Room of Love: Poets on Punk (Jet Tone). With Nick DeBoer they curate Elderly.