Artwork © Janis Butler Holm


Bird Watching in Berlin

             swerved along the river Spree
nose stuffed to slow.
watch a sneaky-green- fat- plume, rip past
Berliner Fernsehturm

             And drop black lace from its beak.

Schiffli lace from my favourite dress
             the one once fleshed to skin, lace with lice
the one it took so long to make,
             like my estrogen-hips that


perfect pair so shaped.


A Typical teenager,
             I didn’t know what to feel like a woman
or a man when the wings of those thieving birds
             crept the dust and chattered
around my window-ledge
             I found ways
             to snip my made up Picasso face
my mirror glued with paper, scissors,

And everything felt twisted
             All the shapes angles
                           all the buildings
squeezed from stripy toothpaste
             so real I wanted to taste the concrete.
I had to double back
             almost arrested by the Gender Police
imagine what might have happened
             If they had emptied my pockets.


Roberta Francis (she/her) is a transgender poet living in London. She has had work published in The York Literary Review, Spontaneous Poetics, and some LGBT Anthologies. She is interested in Surrealism , identity and representation in contemporary poetry.

Janis Butler Holm served as Associate Editor for Wide Angle, the film journal, and currently works as a writer and editor in sunny Los Angeles. Her prose, poems, art, and performance pieces have appeared in small-press, national, and international magazines. Her plays have been produced in the U.S., Canada, Russia, and the U.K.