Words Like Water


I don’t make waves, I make jokes,
Swallow words like water;
Like I’m parched, like I’m starving,
Chewing rocks for an empty stomach
When my full mouth won’t
Let me eat
Hide stones behind laughter but
I stay, void, like an
Android, a gynoid, the
Metal tang of a
Blade through my gut
When I don’t spill the bile that
I suppress beneath a smile
Throat bobbing in a gulp to
Keep it down, keep my mouth shut but

I’m full to bursting
With words like water;
Bubbling and gushing and
Doubling and troubling and 
Boiling and toiling that
I have to dam myself to
Keep everyone from knowing the
Swiftness of falling, the
Placidity of desire, the
Validity of my fluidity, the
Rushing rivers in my veins, the
Light rain, in my brain when

I hold my breath under the current of
These words like water;
When I was a kid
I wished I was a mermaid so I could
Fill my lungs with it
I wanted to be half woman, half
Something else
If only I had gills I could
Get rid of these chills,
Break the surface of my spells but
Now I’ve got concrete fins and
I’m swimmin’ with the fishes

My body has levees to protect it
From words like water;
Slicked my skin with poison so
When they get through they’re toxic,
Get bottled and labeled
Not sure if they are even mine but
Still I bathe in them until my blue
Lips are frozen over,
Gotta learn how to bite through the ice and
Open my mouth
To protect the people who taught me that
There is an ocean inside me.


Based in the Seattle area, H. R. H. Kane is a queer freelance writer, editor, and proofreader who will never quit her day job — usually accompanied by a familiar in the form of an old lady cat. Her work has been published in literary journals Espial, Clamor, and Yours Truly. When not working, she can often be found translating manga (for fun) or studying (for school). If prompted, she can talk your ears off about comic book aliens, K-pop, and bi/pansexual representation.

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