a hue of hospital neon 
                      sits above exposed cotton guts 
                                 of waiting room sofa 
in the early hours of my procession, 
morning orange draws a halo 
           around my pale head. 

there’s a field in the midwest 
where be a man still echoes 
           off the corners of tick-painted weeds 
resting atop a cliff overlooking a shallow marsh. 

it is too late to go back, 
                                 one of the boys who 
                                 said jump came to me in a dream 
                                 last night, to return everything 
                                 i’d lost there & i told him 

i’ve already visited corpses all over the world. 
                      a waiting room-woman, thin-skeleton’d 
                      like suspension bridge cord, brittle & plastic, 
wearing a suit of grief the color of twinsburg, ohio, 

                      mutters something about how to press 
                      flowers onto gravestones. 

the endocrinologist radiates 
the color of lab coat, 
microwave light,
& gray hallway. 

she fills the space of the patient room doorway,
jotting down notes on family history & allergies. 
she measures my scrotum behind a cloth curtain 
& hooks me up to a heart monitor. 
she tells her assistant to type 
into the database. 

i pray to this indented chest
i pray to my hands, thin as boards, 
the way the veins in my palms cling 
to skin like enamel on rotting teeth. 

a cleveland clinic employee 
playing god, 
           she teaches me to carve every x i see into a y. 

frank said my guy pretty like a girl 
& i know he has never been told 
his cock doesn’t match his chromosomes

& watched his own autopsy 
into the shape of an examination room table. 

the lining of my coffin is thin hospital paper. 
my blood a whole river concealed beneath skeletal arms. 
my gender a fugitive in plain site.

when i talk about my body, 
i say abandonment, 
but i mean this isn’t my home.

Matt Mitchell is a writer from Ohio. His work appears in, or is forthcoming to, venues like The Boiler, NPR, The Shallow Ends, Okay Donkey, and Homology Lit, among others. He is the author of You’re My Favorite Garçon (Ghost City Press, 2020). Find him @matt_mitchell48.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.