the same god who told me being gay was a sin when i was eight sold me t on the down low ten years later by Em J Parsley

tell me it was gentle, 
            like when my mother brushed
the hair from my forehead and said, 
                        if God wanted you to fly, He would have called
you Icarus 
                                                and with her feverish
           fingertips 
                                               running through my roots I asked, 
                                                        do you want to be
                                             Daedalus? 

[name added to “when I transition” list: Icarus] 

— 

I wanted to give you
a single, easy command, like so: 
            Love your neighbor as yourself, except for that kid in third grade who called you a Dyke
                        which you thought was a man’s name so you 
                                    said, actually, my dad’s name is Eddie

it’s not that I wanted you 
to love me less, of course. 

it’s that your lips were melted
                      butter, dripping
                                 down my cheeks without ever reaching my mouth

[name added: “Actually, It’s Eddie”] 

when you said, 
            golden       wounded       light

                      I saw the puddle of blood in the back 
                      corner of the wheelbarrow, shifting,
                      gathering ice, moving to rigor
                      mortis before her body could catch up 

[name added: frost-bitten. 7 am. sunrise.] 

                                                                  I don’t know why I
                                                                  expected 
                                                                  you to know my name
                                                                  when you 
                                                                  had never seen the
                                                                                        orderly, headless 
                                                                  bodies of harvested corn
                                                                                        stalks like 
                                                                  terracotta soldiers protecting
                                                                  the bones of deer and

                                                                  I don’t know why I
                                                                  couldn’t hold a knife 
                                                                  the way that’s needed in
                                                                                        order to gut 
                                                                  a doe proper, or why my
                                                                  cloudy breath moved
                                                                  constant in front of my
                                                                  mouth, insisted I was
                                                                                        still alive, why 
                                                                  I could kiss everything
                                                                  but your lips, crystalized 

[name added: empty air above the rows where the corn cobs used to breathe]
[name added: red stain of cardinal against brown december landscape as my fingers turn purple] 

[name added: Abel. Hebrew.
meaning     breath
meaning     son
meaning     I flew until the fever caught fire in every one of my bones, and then I fell] 


Em J Parsley is an MFA candidate at the University of Texas at El Paso and an assistant editor at Juke Joint Magazine. Their work has appeared or is upcoming in Birdcoat QuarterlyAfter the Pause, The New Southern Fugitives, The Rio Grande Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, Every Day Fiction, and various other places. When not in El Paso, they live in rural Kentucky and take care of chickens, who are dumb but lovable creatures. You can find their genderless nonsense on Twitter @emjparsley.   

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.