“a mother mulls over her son’s self-injuries” by Dean Gessie

is that how it began?

the fishing hook in your finger 
produced a scream and a sniffle
hung you to bleed out upside 
down on your father’s pointed 
witness [a second barb on the 
self-same hook]:

don’t be such a suck

or was it your brother’s submission 
holds that placed you in the court 
of the grand inquisitor where you 
suffered collosal clutch or camel 
clutch and no offer of clemency for 
a crying soul at the sporting end of 
a bully pulpit?
man up, little ‘bro
or was it auntie jilly who popped a boob
[her words not mine] and invited you 
to fondle and squeeze through tears and 
unassigned signs on a fluid roadway 
whose solid yellow line produced two 
directions and no passing?

only a pedobar wouldn’t like these puppies

or was it the good summaritan two 
doors down who raised a tent pole 
in your bunk while you pretended 
to sleep on that lonely planet where 
permafrost starts skin-level and 
runs miles deep?

get on to walmart and I’ll neighbour the boy

or were you cursed by the sorcery of  
driveby tweets and snapchats [machine
gun shots of birdsong and schoolyard play] 
when you were crowned queer of the year 
by those who gender orienteer without 
a moral compass?

nice tights, Robin - kapow! zok! whamm!

or were you a casuality of the anthropocene
a furry, feathered or ectothermic creature 
sacrificed to timber, oil, plastic, oxycodone
backstage climate changes, toxic hand sanitizer
failed immunity masks or CGI micro-implants 
right off the chip truck?

technology describes a boy that doesn’t work yet

or were you mulling the fact that mom kept mum
as you lay prostrate on that pre-op slab 
animal skin on your loins moon in eye blood of 
thousands temple torn and a stone scapel in your hand 
to reverse cut the word freak into your abdomen?

is that how it began?

Dean Gessie is an author and poet who has won dozens of international awards and prizes. Among recent honours, Dean won the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award in England, a Creators of Justice Literary Award in New York, the COP26 Poetry Competition in Scotland and the UN-aligned Poetry Contest in Finland.