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By Chrysanthemum
Scheduling a follow-up with my PCP, I prepare
for disaster. Inevitable as flood, I hush a moniker
kept in confidence, wager my informed consent
for a Hancock granting passage. Gates are flimsy
metaphors. It’s more of a worn-down levee, dike
ready to burst without notice. Answering a call
to remind me of the appointment, I’m addressed
as sir despite the EHR. It’s fine. Preferred implies
suggestion, when convenient. Preference is neither
mandate nor promise. I opt for prolepsis & bank
my surplus meds beneath a mattress—a lesson free
from once de facto days of cloak & dagger HRT:
DIY. I tithe my trust to abettors, apothecaries
who bloodlet with no paper trail. Unlike GID,
I aim to escape the bestiary. I make no pledge
to do no harm. Above all, a diagnosis is billable.
Naming wheels an economy so certain I yearn
for recognition. I would rather not be referred
to at all. Like clockwork, He slips my breath
despite. Always a He who follows in pursuit
 of bounty. Lucky for Him, I’m prone to losing
wallets. Milk me clean. Leak my PIN. Enjoy
her maiden name. I don’t fear loss. If leaving
were easy, I’d lose myself more, sear off thumb
-prints to throw the scent. But neither pseudonym
nor sobriquet eludes Him. He reappears at each
border to demand proof I was, am & will continue
to be. Obedience is transactional. I submit myself
as evidence: whether I’m calling to cancel my ATM
card or disputing the extent to which I exist for Social
Security, I count on coming home, warmly welcomed
by an uncollected debt reminding me to whom I owe
my health. Pardon me. My Y chromosome makes
a poor fugitive. I went to bed an uncouth boy
& woke up lawless. Catch me when you can.
I prefer to be waiting.




Listen as Chrysanthemum reads Alias.

Added: Friday, February 9, 2024  /  Used with permission.
Photo by Zach Oren.

Chrysanthemum is a poet, a performance artist, and a public historian. She is the winner of a 2023 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship, a Kundiman Fellow, the recipient of Lambda Literary's 2023 Justin Chin Memorial Scholarship, and a 2019 MacColl Johnson Fellow. She serves as a Co-Director of the Providence Poetry Slam.

Chrysanthemum was a finalist in the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam, and her teams were champions of the Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam and the first-ever FEM Slam. Her work is featured in The Nation, Them, Button Poetry, The Offing, among others. Born to Vietnamese parents in Oklahoma City, she was raised around the NW 39th Street gayborhood and Asian American enclave. She now calls Providence, Rhode Island home.

Image Description: The poet Chrysanthemum stands outdoors and faces the camera with a wall and window behind her. She has golden skin and chest-length dark hair, and wears translucent glasses with a red-and-white patterned dress.

Other poems by this author