Two Poems By Cassandra Whitaker

For Queer Kids Doom Scrolling

Retweet a curse, a prayer
or both, phone a shelter
from the wolf
that is everywhere
but in front of you, in the small space
where you are your own
joy; there is no wolf here. There
is no reason to give your joy
to the wolf. Such a beast
lives in code, lives
in prayer, lives in schoolbooks
and stories of yesteryear
when everything was so great
for the wolf. For the wolf
it all used to be so great.
Stay alert, queer as you do,
as you are, keep ringing the bell
or don’t, the wolf is always there
the wolf is everywhere
you aren’t, everywhere at once,
and yet here you are, queer.


Sometimes It’s Too Much

Leatherwood tree leaning back
into the washed-out gut, weather-worn
from hurricane lashings, leatherwood
leaning back, its branches knuckling
into a pine sloping
into a black locust banking
into a vine-covered maple mind
laid down by the storm, the eager mother
out to destroy what little is left
of the Earth sinking
back into her
influence. The earth greens
and stretches to find the farther
father, but ocean and sky braid
their tempers into rope
and beat the gut and beat
the earth and beat the tree
and wash the bay
into the backroad
and into the gut, the mother
assuming the trees, her gray favors
subduing wild roots, the will
under the forest. The will going gray
and giving up its body
to the mother who is never satisfied
with a body unless it is covered
in her. In a few weeks, the leatherwood
loses all color, as stone
creeps through the xylem, salt drying
to glitter in the sun until rain
washes all mother’s tears back
into the earth, free of the ocean
for a moment, for a moment, breathes.

Cassandra Whitaker (they/them) is a trans writer from Virginia whose work has been published, or will be published, in Michigan Quarterly Review, The Mississippi Review, Foglifter, Whale Road Review, Conjunctions, Evergreen Review, and other places. They are a member of the National Book Critics Circle.