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Anjana Rao Jun 2020
Say it with your chest.

Black trans lives matter.
Black trans lives matter.
Black trans lives matter.

There’s a lot of reasons
to say
to being in the streets.

It’s a work day.
It’s dangerous.
What are you even doing there?

And you still go.
It feels more right
than being at your desk job
in a 80% white county.

So you make the drive.
You write numbers to call on your arm
hoping you don’t need them,
but it’s too late to turn back anyway.

Somehow this feels right.

And it’s hot.
The sweat is melting
the numbers off your arm.

And you’re hungry
because you didn’t eat lunch
and didn’t pack anything.

And your ex is here,
and you can deal with it,
but it’s still uncomfortable.

And you don’t know most people here
and there are so many white people,
and what are you doing here?

And in spite of everything
somehow this feels right.

You stand to the side.
Sometimes you can’t hear the speeches.
Sometimes you have to sit down.
Sometimes you lose track
of the friends you came with.

And there are
so many reasons not to be here.
But you’re here now
and you can’t turn back.

Say it with your chest

Black trans lives matter.
Black trans lives matter.
Black trans lives matter.

And you join the crowd to march.
You don’t know
where you’re going
but you’re going.

And as you march
at some point
it doesn’t matter
how many people are white,
because at some point
you feel it.

You don’t live here
but you feel it:

And you are quiet,
recently wrote a whole article about it,
about how protests could never be your thing.
But then
you remember
what a black trans organizer said
before the march:

Say it with your chest.

Black trans lives matter.
Black trans lives matter.
Black trans lives matter.

And then
you are shouting too.
You are weaving through cars,
you are sitting down in the streets,
and cars are honking in solidarity,
and workers raise their fists
from behind closed doors,
and anxiety melts away,
because this,

this is important.

And it is hot outside,
your feet hurt,
you haven’t eaten for hours,
you’re thirsty,
and there were so many reasons
to stay home.

But you showed up.

And eventually
the march ends,
and you learn
that the police didn’t know
what to do about all of you.

And your ex thinks
you’re flushed with panic
but it’s not panic,
it’s adrenaline.

And your friend
thanks you for showing up,
and tells you
that your trans life matters.

You are not black,
you are brown,
and this is not about you,
you’ve always known this,

but for once
you feel validated,
you feel community.

And will there be victory
in your life?
You don’t know.
But your friend is waving the trans flag
out the window
and you are going to Burger King
and making fun
of white people,
of the police who couldn’t keep up,
and it’s enough.

And this was not without risk,
but this feels right,
and anyway,
if there is no risk
there is no reward.

This day will be over,
but remember
and every day:

Say it with your chest.

Black trans lives matter.
Black trans lives matter.
Black trans lives matter.
Anjana Rao May 2020

Bless the salt,
not from tears
from the water
from the air
from the Spartina grass
that laps it all up.

Bless the Plough mud,
full of nutrients, exfoliants,
that'll have you sinking, sinking, sinking
if you dare to enter.

Bless the beach.
Bless every shell,
broken and whole,
still beautiful.

Bless every dead jellyfish I saw
washed up on the shore,
managing even in death,
and still deserving of life.

Bless the dolphins
who've made this place

Bless every pelican
which must
hunt relentlessly,
which must eventually
die for the hunt.

Bless the Carolina Gold,
which in the end,
tasted like regular rice.

Bless the history of this place,
the good and the bad and the ugly.
May we not forget any of it.



what t felt like
to feel toes in sand,
salt in hair,
cold, cold water lapping at feet.

Look at a shell
and make it mean more
than a vacant home.

the hunger of wanting to know
everything about this place.

Take that hunger back North,
where you must eventually go.

what it felt like
to move your body
to see something other than
city streets and bars.

It sounds cheesy,
but you need nature
more than you know.

you may never come back here,
you can always find it.

Find it.
Written March 12, 2020
Anjana Rao May 2020
I tell myself,
no more.
I will not see you again,
I am done, done, done.

I find myself driving to you
that same night
with the flimsiest excuse.

you are an ex
I can't quite get over.

I keep remembering
the good times,
and I can't let you go.

We say,
let's be friends,

when we see each other
we never say anything

I say
no more,
but I keep coming back to you,
and you,

these days,
you're indifferent.

We have one night stands
where no one comes
and I slink away early in the morning.

There is no coffee,
no breakfast,
no romance,
no anything at all.

we're a habit
I don't know how to break.

I don't know
what I want from you,
what I need from you,
I just know
I won't get it.

I keep coming back,
keep hoping
one day you'll feel like home.

But Baltimore,
I know better,
and anyway,
don't you know?

can't be friends.
Written March 4, 2020
Anjana Rao May 2020
this is a love poem.

this is a break up poem.

I remember
when I first
fell in love with you.

It was 2012
I wandered around the city
taking ****** pictures of street art.
Took free public transit.
Spent the afternoon
at the old, old red Emma's
back when it wasn't bougie.

I knew what you were
but I couldn't help it,
I fell in love.

I remember courting you,
thinking maybe I could call you

Greatest City in America
run down
all at once.

In 2014
you held me
through my numbed out days,
through my drunken nights.

with your ****** transportation
that might or might not arrive.

with your gentrified Hampden
where I once heard a white man say he felt
"So safe."

with your burnt out building I climbed
with a girl
who'd one day leave me behind.

with your street cats,
street rats.

with the Royal Farms
that sold cheap Mikes Hards.

I could barely love myself,
I still loved you.

I need you to know
that I will always care for you,
but somewhere along the way
something broke in me.

you held me then,
still hold me even now,
but it's getting time
for me to move on.

It's not you,
it's me.

My restlessness,
my ungratefulness,
of what you've done for me.
My inability to value
potential stability,
potential community.

It's not me,
it's you.

It's all the same with you,
same scene,
same bars,
same parties.

I love you,
I really do.

I'm sorry,
but we need to take a break


Need to start seeing
other people.

Don't cry,
it's better this way.

And besides,
you're not,
could never truly be

this is a love poem.

this is a break up poem.

maybe one day
when the dust settles
we can be friends.

But for now,
I need to leave.

I love you.

Good bye.
Written February 4, 2020
Anjana Rao May 2020
I'm near the door
of this queer party
scanning the stream of people
coming in.

For who?

For you.

Who else?


And then
there you are,

and my heart
does some kind of flip
even tho
I swear to myself
I'm over you.

I mean
I don't even think of you
that often but

there you are
and I can't help
for something
that'll never happen.

Tell myself
over and over and over
that I'm with someone better for me,

but she's white,
and never goes out,
and safe,
and you -

you're you.

And we talk,
tease each other,
saying nothing

And it's okay.
And it's not.

And later in the night
when you tell me
about what's happening at Otto
after this event
I hightail it there,

of course I do,

hoping, hoping, hoping...

And even now,
I sit in this coffee shop
waiting to go to an event
you said you'd be at and


I'd give anything
to be different,

to not want
what I can't have.

I'd give anything
to be more
than a moth
to a flame

to be satisfied
with what I've got,

but I can't help it.

I want
forest fire love.

Give me
forest fire love.

I want to be
burned alive.
Written February 9, 2020
Anjana Rao May 2020
My therapist told me that
you didn't seem like the Worst partner,
and it stung a little
But she was right

She had me list
one positive thing
one negative thing
about you.

It was easy.
You were
Emotionally unavailable.

The other night
I told a few people at the bar you work at
that we broke up.
They nod as if they saw it coming
but don't ask the particulars.

And in those moments
I felt held
by a community I never thought existed -
at least not
for me.

Even in my dreams
my ex tells me to moisturize.
The day after that dream
I wake up smiling

I can say what I want about you
but you taught me some good lessons:
Stand up straight
Don't think like a loser.

And weeks after the breakup
I still feel numbed out,
but there are all these things
that act as a battering ram
against my iced up heart.

Break me open.
Written September 12, 2019
Anjana Rao May 2020
If love is a hit
I want another.
Just give me a bump,
let me feel that hight,
I swear it'll keep me satisfied.

(I'm never satisfied.)

I want to go back.

Want to go back
to the first time
you let me chill with you
while you djed.

To that first heady weekend
I spent with you.

To the first time
we decided we were dating.

To my birthday
when you treated me to sushi.

To the beach day
when I was surrounded by you and my bff.

nostalgia is a drug
and I want the high,
nostalgia is an ocean,
and I want to drown.

Come back to me.
Come back to me.
Come back to me.
Written Nov 11 2019
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