K. Iver

Missy Asks Me What The 2020s Are Like

More of us are on TV. I have met the trans people who own a bar and a bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin. I have shaken their hands. An eleven-year-old from my queer youth club says her hobby is trans liberation activism. Some of us still die. More of us want to. Undergrads are performing 90s nostalgia. I saw a freshman carrying a boombox playing Bombastic. For half a second, I thought it was your red Bronco. I saw the stoplight where we danced from our bellies like Shaggy. This is a trauma response. Ford reissued the Bronco last year. The drivers are exactly our age, still flannelled and anxious. Strangers have read poems about you and published them in national journals. Strangers have read poems about you and offered me a fellowship to live in Madison, where I’ve never felt so comfortable around strangers. I climb fake boulders indoors. I’m told the past won’t leave parts of my body. An androgynous climber with many muscles coaches my past up the wall. Trust your big toe. Reach. At a public reading, someone with frosted hair says thank you for bringing Missy to life. When you were alive, I would have gendered them. You would love the lakes here. When I look up from my campus desk, I see sailboats. I hold many people I don’t know responsible for your death. They love us here, now. Right now, they love us here.

a mother’s advice

if you didn’t live 
in bed   if you prayed 
at all   if your laugh 
wasn’t a bark   
if you shopped   
at all   if you loved 
only men    didn’t 
talk about yourself
so much    if you 
cared   if i cared    if   
when you were on 
all fours   i’d let you 
crawl over me   on 
hungover mornings
if I hadn’t rolled up
a newspaper    to swat
your head as if 
a fly    if infants    
weren’t infants   if you 
hadn’t thrown up 
on the drapes   if i 
didn’t need weeks 
away if men didn’t 
want    so much if men 
weren’t men if my boss 
hadn’t     chased me 
around his desk    if my 
father hadn’t    chased me
around my bed 
if i didn’t     want 

their want    so much
if i hadn’t left     you   
so    young    with 
my father     who didn’t 
have to chase 
you     to catch you
if i felt as pretty 
as men say   if my skirts 
and suits and 
earrings and discount 
designer shoes 
delivered the fullness
they promised    if my 
creditors understood   
if they hadn’t    called
you     if you hadn’t
gone and checked
your credit report if 
your generation 
so sad Kelly get 
up now it’s high noon

K. Iver is a nonbinary trans poet from Mississippi. Their book Short Film Starring My Beloved’s Red Bronco won the 2022 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry and is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions. Their poems have appeared in Boston Review, Gulf Coast, Poetry Northwest, TriQuarterly, The Adroit, and elsewhere. Iver is the 2021-2022 Ronald Wallace Fellow for Poetry at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. They have a Ph.D. in Poetry from Florida State University.