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Xander Duncan May 2016
“Hey, I’m third-wheeling! Haven’t done this in a while!”
Wait… No… I’m going to stop you right there
Just because your friend has been texting me daily
Does not mean that we are any sort of duo for you half-heartedly attach to
Because I am a ******* unicycle
Admittedly, I don’t always stand too well on my own
But all it takes is some momentum and a little bit of blind faith
And I’ll be the one-wheeled contraption staggering unsteadily over any terrain imaginable
The only sort of second tire you’ll be hearing about for now
Is the declaration that I’m “two tired” to deal with this *******
Peddle your flirtations all you like, I’m not buying it
I’m the single spokesperson for a single set of spokes
You cannot tread on me just because my tread is wearing thin
Notice the lack of handlebars, you see, I am in control
Although my balance is unpredictable at best
I don’t have any brakes, because I’m getting sick of being broken
Do not mistake clowning around for simplicity, you see, I am easier said than done
The unicycle is not an easily mastered skill
And sure, perhaps I should be grateful that someone even bothers to try
But if you’re trying to shift gears, I should warn you
That doesn’t appear to be an option
I should warn you
All rides are solo
I should warn you
Unicycles might go in circles
But at least it's what they're meant to do
Xander Duncan Nov 2015
More precisely: A letter to Love
There is no place for you here
He forbade you from the beginning
And we agreed that you would not come around
I know I was alone when you showed up at my door but
You must have known you were still unwelcome
When he holds me close at 3am
This is not an invitation
When he pets my hair as I cry
This is not a retraction of our demands
His hand on my hips and under my clothes
Are not extended to you
You must believe me when I say I miss you terribly
But this is not the first time you have betrayed me
I think we need some distance
I truly do look forward to the opportunity where we may meet again
But there is no place for you here
Please go
  Oct 2015 Xander Duncan
Moon Humor
First glance, I’m a good Christian girl. But dark purple flecks decorate my neck.
In leather and lace I forget to pray and let you do what you want with me
because pain is complex and melded with pleasure.

Do you know what they say about girls that enjoy ***?
They never dare to say it to my face but I can feel them staring from the pew
at the dark purple flecks that decorate my neck.

Your hands, more powerful than God, make the earth of my body quake
while I draw fault lines down your back with my nails under the broken
crucifix above your bed. The pain is complex and melded with pleasure.

Deep, growling voice shakes the dusty rosary on your nightstand when we ****.
Your handprints are left on my flesh and the hand around my throat
leaves the dark purple flecks decorating my neck.

Coffee in the narthex and I’m labeled a harlot. Sinner. Sacrilegious. Branded as freaks…
Brush it off. I know what you like and how you like me. God will have mercy.
Sensations blend because pain is complex and melded with pleasure

and I can’t have one without the other. To reach our peak
you leave me red, marked and breathless, gasping, “Oh my God.”
Questioning my beliefs with dark purple flecks to decorate my neck,
I know pain will always be complex and melded with pleasure.
A relaxed villanelle
  Sep 2015 Xander Duncan
I saw a picture on the internet of a sign
That said “Welcome to Amsterdam. When it’s hot, please dress for the body you have,
Not the body you want. Thanks"
In the vicinity was a large woman wearing a pink crop top and leggings and the
Image was captioned
“Look who didn’t follow the rules!”
I assumed this rogue internet commenter assumed that this woman,
This beautiful, curvy, confident woman,
Didn’t want the body she had.
Why is it always assumed that fat people hate their bodies?
I’m fat and this IS the body I want *******!
I love this body!
This body has ******* privilege!
This body has enough melanin to tan easily in summer but not enough
That I’m going to be unjustly persecuted for my skin tone.
This body doesn’t get too cold in the winter.
This body has a home and a family and food to eat!
This body is ABLE to run and jump and walk wherever I want
This body is disease free.
This body can fit into a variety of clothing and look good.
I mean it isn’t perfect -
This body has had an eating disorder.
This body has self harm scars,
This body doesn’t always feel like it’s the right gender
This body has lived through 4 school district changes, a cross country move,
Depression, anxiety, a suicide attempt, high school graduation,
Bullying, finding out that I’m queer, finding out that I’m loved,
My first week of college, 16 days of living on a hiking trail
Thinking I’m ugly and realizing I’m beautiful
But I still want this body!

It’s the only one I have
Xander Duncan Aug 2015
Step right up, step right up
Watch your drink
Watch your purse
Watch the eyes of the guys around you
Watch out on behalf of the other girls, you never know what might happen
When you go to college a ******
Life is a ******* circus and
The elephant in the room has always been ***
But they told you that life would be a circus
And that’s where the elephants are meant to be seen, right?
So even though you were prepared to paint your face a sad clown
You put on a leotard and start walking fine lines like a tightrope
Looking for flashy colors on your skin
You wear hickeys and purity rings with the same amount of pride
And you won’t always know why you care so much about either

You’ll learn to be a ringmaster
who can conduct a proper show
But you get used to staying offstage
So the first time he sets off firecrackers behind your eyes and between your hips
Don’t be so scared of the light that you curl up under the circus tent in shame
And shake until sunrise, spitting out the ashes that remain on a briefly lit fuse
Because even though you’ve tasted sparks before
Breathing fire has never been a partner act
But you know that this boy knows how to feed you flames without cooking you inside out
So you attempt to rationalize that perfect double act

And you’ve seen contortionists always return to the shape they were taught
But you’re sure your muscles would stretch enough to change your build
So when the lion tamer brings his head away from a newly domesticated maw
And you start swallowing swords
Your first reaction should not be to gargle alcohol searching for open wounds
And ponder what shade of virginity you’re still allowed to identify with
Take a bow, darling, or at least take a breath
The heat on your tongue is only an afterthought

When he leaves you
shortly afterward
Do not singe your skin in an attempt to burn away his fingerprints
The tears that catch in your throat are as hot as the cinders he put there
And neither one will do away with the other
You just have to let them react and steam until you can breathe again
And breathe until you can feel again
And feel until the cold no longer numbs you and the heat no longer melts your bones
Spitting out the fire means you risk setting everything else ablaze
But swallowing coals until your stomach rejects anything else isn’t the best course of action either
So you hold the match between your teeth and the sparklers in your veins and deny the passage of time
Certain that they will burn out before you have to worry about them again anyway

When you go to college a ******
You’ve been told that fire is cleansing
But chewing on ashes makes you feel *****
And when the heat of passion sets off smoke alarms
It can be hard to remember which drills to follow
So remember this
Don’t catch fire to entertain
If what you really want is to keep warm
Xander Duncan Feb 2015
He is a book that was recommended to me just after I passed the shelf on which he was displayed
When I said I hadn’t been reading much lately
Life gave me a chapter full of pictures to begin with
And told me that one page at a time is still progress
In fact, one page at a time is the only way to make progress
He’s a well-read book with new words for every reader
And instead of leaving paper cuts on my hands he leaves ink stains
There are golden letters on his spine that I’ve taken to tracing absentmindedly every time I re-read a phrase
And dog eared pages that I’m not sure I have the authority unfold
He’s captivating
And quickly becoming my favorite story
He is English as a second language and still teaching me more about my tongue than I ever knew
Translating fears into excitement and confusion into intrigue
I didn’t know my skin was cryptic until he decided to decode me
But now I’m fascinated with hunting for the hieroglyphics in his neurons
Listening to tales spun by our own curiosity
Story time trumps bed time whenever possible
And when we decide that language itself is sometimes a ****** up means of communication
We try for morse code heartbeats and braille necklines and bizarre entanglements of hands
And when we decide that sometimes language itself is the best thing in the world
We talk the hours of the clock down to ticking hands and hourglass sand
Or get distracted and I’ll decide that I could travel the world in one night using the roadmaps in his veins
Where I’ll get lost and ask for directions and go through the same streets again anyway
Because I didn’t see everything the first time around and I really enjoy the journey
He is a pronoun that sounds good between my teeth and tastes like learning how to whisper before you learn how to speak
One of those words that I was never sure I was pronouncing right because I learned it by reading alone and deciphering based on context and roots
But he’s also one of those words where once you learn it you start hearing it all the time
And you swear that the whole world acquired this new term with you at once
He is nostalgia in a new experience
Nostalgia-- roots meaning home, or to return home, and a pain or sickness
He’s a homesickness that draws me to him every night
And he is a wanderlust that draws me away from the home I’ve known
Convincing me that comfort zones need exploring the same way tropical zones do
He is an encyclopedia on staying warm in Michigan winters
An atlas from desert countries
And a topographical map that makes me think
I could learn to like geography
Or cartography because he knows that the best way to record new terrain is to explore it first
And I’m content to be a notebook full of scribbles detailing the peaks and valleys and abandoned alleys
And arrhythmic patterns of wind set to traverse through tracheas, reaching lungs only when necessary
He’s the breath I forgot to take when a cliffhanger was resolved
And I don’t always know if I’m a page-turner or just a bookmark within one
But he’s a genre that’s meant to be read under the covers with a booklight until the sun comes up and reminds you that time isn’t as frozen as you hoped it was
And even when I don’t know if we’re on the same page
He tells me that there’s a reason that books have more than one
And I’ve never been good at guessing how stories are going to end
But I'd like to spend some more time reading
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