© 2018 by Undone: A Legacy of  Queer (Re)imaginings. Sponsored by Brown University's LGBTQ Center

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Issue 1: Queering Across Borders

poetry

Tramps Like Us

By Resi Polixa          June 10, 2019

Dear Bruce,

 

I’ve never felt so New Jersey as I did when I left.

 

Like you, I was born to run.

 

Like you,

if you want to see me, you can tell I am easily found.

 

People ask me what I am. I struggle to tell them that I am everywhere and nowhere all at once. I

am everything and nothing -

 

I exist at the darkness on the edge of town.

 

It’s strange to be made up of paradoxes. Margins are the only things that make sense.

 

I had to leave New Jersey, but since leaving I can’t shake it.

 

I come from people who moved, people who crossed borders

like they were permeable lines that didn’t matter,

the dotted lines you see on a map

 

My mother is an immigrant

While she was pregnant with me

she commuted to work over two trains from

New Jersey to Queens daily

 

And my mother came from a place

that was invaded by colonizers

who also acted like borders

didn’t matter

 

Spanish who traveled a long way

to conquistador a collection of

over 7500 islands

in the Pacific

 

In Tagalog, there’s words that

come from other places

One of them is a word for me:

 

Mestiza

or, I should say

mestiza/o

 

I’ve been wanting to write this poem since I could form

words since I could

speak since I could

write

this poem’s been writing itself

since before I was born

to run

 

to cross borders

to exist on both sides of that / line

 

Because I am everywhere/nowhere

everything/nothing

all at once

 

Most people don’t realize

that gender exists beyond two/sides

 

In Tagalog, the Spanish introduced gender

Otherwise,

there is no grammatical difference

I am a siya

I am someone more deep

than I look on the surface

 

My gender is a universe

It is anarchy

of bright lights, starlight, saxophone solos, operas and ballets

 

Beneath the surface

I am a city, I am the chaotic jungleland

of New Jersey

and beyond

 

I struggle against

my skin feels like ice I have to break through daily:

permeable lines that don’t matter / the dotted lines you see on a map

 

No, outside my skin is on fire, in a real death waltz

between what’s flesh/what’s fantasy

 

dotted with track marks

that betray my identity

of racial ambiguity and gender anarchy

that lie beneath -

 

I am not who you’d expect,

 

So the poet in here

has to stand back and let it all be.

 

So if you want to see me, you can tell I am easily found.

I am everywhere/nowhere

everything/nothing

all at once

 

Because like you,

I was born to run.

 

Everybody’s out on the run tonight,

but there’s no place left to hide.

I can’t escape this jungleland inside me,

 

even from this place,

where no one asks any questions

or looks too hard in your face,

 

where the madness in my soul lives —

in the darkness on the edge/of town.

Resi Polixa is a queer Filipinx public historian, writer, and community storyteller based out of Lowell, MA. They are the founder of the LGBTQ+ Lowell Open Mic series, and are a firm believer in the power of storytelling to change the world. They have been published by bklyn boihood in Outside the XY: Queer Black and Brown Masculinity, and will soon be published in LOAM magazine. They are an alum of the Public Humanities MA program at Brown, and when not writing, enjoy exploring the mysteries of tarot and experiencing the outdoors. You can follow them on Instagram @resi_ibanez and @sideeye.historian .