Rumpus Original Poetry: Four Poems by Emma Brown Sanders






what’s my body
but a collection
of tiny hairs
i grow out
my nipples
preparing each
morning a thermos
of coffee and microwaved milk
the white bits float up
so i pretend i can’t see
sipping heat / my body
the back that whines
loudest, tired
of sitting
and standing
in equal measure
i get high alone, watch
movies / every angel has
a ponytail, tornado,
toilet bowl
any good thing
pretending my sink
isn’t piled with dishes
feeding cold cupcakes
to my friends telling
them to ignore
the wrappers
my feet
gardening through
lips dribbling
what i never said
plant food
i stole, unused

to have sun,
and water



hips a basin
for pooling harm

certain movements
a valve / releasing

gentle hiss of bone

you are not what
you were born to

the immutability of
chromosomes / dissolve

there is a broader ontology
of queer passage

what you had to do
wasn’t yours

it was anybody’s
and no one did

come after me
if i say too much

i leak / wholly


The cloud that selects us

my baby / brittle
i carry your pelvis
in a backpack
for years

i write to you about
transformative possibility, nightscapes,
by hook or by crook, absence, flesh,
al-anon, sestinas, linkages,
how spicer said things don’t
connect, they correspond

being as an effect of
encounters / what
encountered us so
close to the floor
we could slap our little
heads on linoleum
and shriek

my baby / saw but
a glimpse of you grown

driving the car of a ghost
giving out sandwiches / supple



i hold her ass while
she does the dishes

i wash the catholic
from her body with
my tongue

she renders notes
of clear air

it’s warm / singing
weird and new

a fleet of cars
the nuns keep

we watch them
come and go



Photograph of Emma Brown Sanders courtesy of Emma Brown Sanders.

Emma Brown Sanders is co-editor of the tiny and the author of A Fallow Channel (Gauss PDF, 2020). Their work has appeared in bedfellows, Bone Bouquet, boneless skinless, Full Stop, Fungiculture, and Tripwire, among others. They have been nominated for Pushcart and Bettering American Poetry prizes. More from this author →