photo of wooden chair in the sun, in front of a garage door

Two poems by Cassie Ross

Content warning: physical injury, internal organs made external.


Reading you my visceral trauma poems


I look up from what I am
doing with the knife to check
that you are still watching

I have hooked my transverse
             colon over the back of the chair
the ascending flops to the seat – See ??
trembling finger following where I couldn’t
digest something someone fed me

‘Mmm’ you say
                                             I can’t tell if you
follow my pale gesture, tracing the ileum
hanging from the boughs             soft untwisted
sausage               something is moving up there
myna birds        m          maybe

a glistening drape leads back to the chair
the jejunum crossworks the
wooden legs finger-knitting meat
to mimic the streets of my home
town you’ve never been to
leading back to the source, the shining
duodenum         do you see ??

you say something I think
m          maybe with your face
but it’s hard to be Grounded or Present
when                 no matter how artistically
you’ve done it
you have spilt your guts
into a sunny afternoon


Content warning: psychiatric gatekeeping, slurs


At the psychiatrist’s office seeking hormones like a thirsty snail seeking water, soft and gooey but hiding my insides



motel room sorta carpets
window to brick alley
I sit across from him
sorta sipping tepid water
he doesn’t drink any
scratches on a pad
I have three days of expired prescription hormones at home
have been waiting for this appointment for three weeks
(In the UK people wait three years, don’t we have it good)
                                                                 ‘…Childhood friends?’
How to explain too many female friends equalled fag at school
how I have those friends now anyway
                                ‘I mean, I did play with my cousins a lot’
Well fit together teleology of realisation, repression, acceptance to now
sip water
                                            it’s all reverse causality
like reading trans into my Pluto Sagittarius
but less affirming, more con
firming some square he ticks
the clock ticks I sip water
questions tip into awkward
‘If you could have a vagina’
he asks me
                             sip water
think of why I haven’t thought about it
say something about $30,000
and no parents’ private
or patience with the changes
I’m only starting now
or —
                               ‘No’ he says
‘If I had a magic button you could push’
I think my Yes was more to push
the very real enter-key to send the letter
to let me dodge the draft of manhood
as a medically designated faggot
I sip water, dip my head as
he says ‘You have very fine features,
               and have a lot to work with’
A body shaped well for his ideal
object of transsexual
this may be an unfair reading
but doctor — read the room
                            it’s history
when this was the only question asked
and Drs simply asked themselves        (so don’t we have it good)
               but this heavy unthunk of the unlimits
I’d’ve done for his pen stroke on a letter hangs
the sort of thought that sticks in your throat
no matter how much water you swallow
all pride, smile, ‘thank you’ to the compliment
his frames catch the fluorescence
I unclench my glass
he        ‘…can recommend trial of hormone replacement therapy’
smiling like he doesn’t really believe in the gate he’s keeping
               I’ve sincerely had it good
but I apologise
like any anachronistic it I’ve had good
has to do with the sunlight
by the ocean last Sunday
            months later
hopping between rock pools
brilliant post-swim almonds
bursting between molars
as we lay on towels in the sand
quoting Anakin Skywalker at each other
letting the water seep from my hair into my towel
nothing to do with a doctor
and his creepy checklist

Author’s notes:

Doctors who initiate HRT in NSW with informed consent (no psychiatry) can be found on this map

These poems were written on the lands of the Wodiwodi people. Sovereignty was never ceded.

photo of a glass of water, notebook and pen on a table in the sun

About the author

Cassie Ross is a wollongong poet living on the stolen land of the Wodiwodi people. She grew up on Ngarble land in glen innes. She tweets @cass_t_r and can be seen at Enough Said Poetry Slam in wollongong. She has work published with Baby Teeth Journal.

Credits: Chair photo by Stephanie Harvey on Unsplash. Water glass photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash.

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