I am not tough enough

my skin’s edges are not rough enough

to convince you that I will

fuck you up

if you try to mess with me. I still

put on the get-up

of a real normal girl,

I wear makeup (sometimes)

and dresses (twice a year)

and I won’t cut my hair super-short because frankly

I’d look ridiculous

but this

isn’t a beauty pageant, this is a knock-down, drag-out (drag queen drama)

brawling in the basement bar

kind of city and I’m not sure I’m rough

and ready enough to live here.

I’m not that cool kid

who’d already done the things you still wish

you were brave enough to commit

by age sixteen,

I don’t smoke or wear black-framed glasses to match

my hipster sneakers, I don’t have

a tragic past or a decent reason to be sad

anger rarely bubbles up in me

and when it does, I rage


against grinning bigots and blithe ignorance

I can’t even make a fist without my fingers shaking

like they always do, betraying

my inner cowardice.

Guess I’m just not sufficiently brave to make a fuss

not tough enough for this rough-and-tumble

Sinclair’s urban jungle, world about to


so instead of packing a gun

and fighting back, think I’ll

pick up a mic

and straighten my back

speak my shaking words into the black abyss

of this old silent gangster movie, make you (hear me)

sit still to listen

to the scratched record pop and hiss

as it plays back (skips and)

plays back

the history of how all this

came to be, my twitching fingers and glossed lips,

and those memories you’d prefer to forget.

Listen now, this is it…I won’t tell you again