“Faith and Doubt” © Edward Michael Supranowicz
More and more, I’ve found that I identify as “anti” noun,
or maybe neutral noun. But not pro-
not since I learned I had a choice and
started asking a question I’d never asked
growing up in a red state as a cis passing tom boy.
The answer is “he/him.”
My preferred nouns are he/him and I’ve never
said that out loud, because I don’t know what it means,
And I feel just like I did when I was 6
jealous of the little boy who everyone said was a girl
I admired his tenacity, his commitment
to be all the things I wanted to be but didn’t know how to embrace.
I wanted to be that sure of who I was.
Still want to be as sure of who I am at 30, as he was sure at 6
I’m not sure.
But I am sure of who I am not.
I am not a woman — except for when unicorns are involved
or the color pink. Or the times I soften my eyes and pitch my voice
in that damsally way that ensures he’ll buy me a slice of cheesecake.
I am also not a man. But maybe, most definitely a boy.
an awkward boy, with gangly limbs who can’t fathom why the girls
Are wasting so much time on makeup and fingernail polish when they could
be here with me wrestling in the mud and climbing trees.
I am man-lite.
The way coke zero is masculine,
even though it isn’t.
I’m a he in the way a boat is she–
just because the name felt right.
and a little because of convention
all the short haired, wild eyed,
gamerboys are he’s.
(and I am very much a gamer boy;
a golden retriever boy, a good boy)
And those are all he’s aren’t they?
Maybe some they’s
But–they is just too neutral
to on the fence
to close to jumping over
And “he” is the pronoun that fits without help of suspenders or safety pins
But what does that even mean?
I don’t want to change anything, or more accurately
Have already changed everything except the pronouns
Cut off the hair. Bought men’s suits.
Kept some of the cuter dresses.
But still no masculine pronouns.
Because I don’t know how to own this–
am not really sure what it even is
I’d be owning.
Two of my partners are straight men.
Would they still want to hold my hand, play with my clit
If my brain claimed a more masculine identity?
Am I even allowed to claim a masculine identity?
How does any of this work?
I don’t know how any of this works
So I’ve found myself identifying more and more as anti-noun
ready to demand that instead of she/they/it
I be identified as only captain/grace/confused one
Autumn Slaughter is a clinical psychology doctoral student at the University of Tulsa. She is currently working in the psychology department at the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita, Oklahoma. Autumn is a volunteer with the criminal justice and art group Poetic Justice and with the Living Arts Poetry Committee. Her poetry has been featured at TEDx Tulsa and in various poetry journals and venues.
Edward Michael Supranowicz is the grandson of Irish and Russian/Ukrainian immigrants. He grew up on a small farm in Appalachia. He has a grad background in painting and printmaking. Some of his artwork has recently or will soon appear in Fish Food, Streetlight, Another Chicago Magazine, The Door Is a Jar, The Phoenix, and The Harvard Advocate. Edward is also a published poet.