Daniel T. O’Brien – Runner-Up, 2016 Poetry Contest
Self-Portrait as Token [Offering]

First, they took me from my mother and dressed me
in my golden casing. I was directed into the bed
of an alloyed pick-up truck,
which carried me to what can only be described
as The Destination. There, I arrived abruptly
at the end of my ancient life. Naturally,
there were tributaries, of both varieties.
There were several men there—and a barn,
and a monument. There was disappointment,
too, and traditional floral arrangements,
neither of which were mine, nor for me. My queerness
was apparent, and in that way, had always been
prophetic. I was presented to the men at the foot
of the monument, before the threshold.
I exchanged hands. And at the sight
of my lashes, they knew I batted them
constantly, and had been beaten
at the hand of, or for, the wrong kind
of men. And so, when they called for my body—
they being the Universe, who had already decided
my fate—I gave it to them willingly. They offered me
to the water, which carried me back to the beginning—
to before they had a name for what I was.

Daniel T. O’Brien is a New York native currently living in Columbus, OH. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Banango Street, BLOOM, Prelude, Sequestrum, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. He was the recipient of the 2016 Vandewater Poetry Prize from The Ohio State University, where he is currently on fellowship and serves as Poetry Editor for The Journal and managing editor for The Journal Book Prize Series. You can find out more, here: http://www.danieltobrien.com/