body of work

Are you ever surprised
when you look in the mirror?
Do you wonder what doctor,
what mechanic, what fey spirit
came in the night
to change you?
Do you notice that your heart
beats more distantly
that your breath fills
someone else’s lungs?
Do you ever think
that your shoes fir too tight
or your clothes sit
too low from the lines they’ve pressed
into your skin?
Who moved the borders
when you weren’t looking?
What force invaded, signed over
the familiar landscape of your body
to foreign dignitaries?
Who are you?

© chris DINGLEY 2014

Grippette, you little sh!t

I WILL POOP ON THE BATHMAT
shouts my roommate
POOP
BATHMAT
NOW

another one giggles
the first sips her tea
she is not going to miss the toilet
either of them
the last one chews on something
but her grasp of the English language
is not good enough
to take the hint

this roommate
the one that poops on bathmats
and doesn’t speak English
refuses to let me
go to the bathroom alone
I get that the Girl Code is a thing
but this is too damn creepy

stop it

no, I don’t want to hang out right now
it’s 2am for godsake
go to sleep
or at the very least
shut up

I have a roommate that’s never been outdoors
can’t make her own food
or trim her nails
poops in a box
and, sometimes, on bathmats
and never pays rent

cats are weird, I, the dog person, say
cute, we agree, but also assholes

© chris DINGLEY 2014
first performed for Words To Live By, Ottawa

*Asterisk

confessions of a genderqueer

My gender is not a political statement
how I choose to express this is a reflection
on no one but myself –
I have nothing to prove to you
and you have no right to call judgement
on the outcome of a battle you’ve never fought
on a war you never knew existed.

My identity is not a social theory for you to dispute
you have no grounds to tell me
there there is not battle to be fought for the likes of me
Do not tell me I have nothing to fear
when every scrap of polyester-cotton blend
is an expectation a justified assumption
and every mirror is a question of
WHO ARE YOU?

Do not tell me that labels don’t matter
that the difference between gender and sex
lies only in semantics
that I can’t exist as I am
because the English language does not have
grammatically correct neutral pronouns,

My revelation is not a revolution
I may be a feminist a queer-rights activist
but don’t you dare tell me
that my coming out is all part of some plot
to bring down the cisheteropatriarchy.

Do not tell me to be quiet!
Don’t equate my self-discovery
to political propaganda! To that zealot on the corner
that screams for the redemption of sins
you do not believe yourself guilt of.

I speak up
because I should not have to expect and inquisition
every time I correct someone who calls me “her”
because I am tired of being misgendered
addressed by a name that no longer reflects me
having to choose between “man” or “woman”
every time I go to the bathroom, the gym, the clothing aisle
every time I fill out a form in this country.

I may be female but I am not a woman.

My name is chris.
My preferred pronoun is the singular “they”.
And I will keep repeating myself
until you get this right.

© chris DINGLEY 2013
first performed for Words To Live By, Ottawa

fin

BRACE YOURSELVES –
this one’s off the Rictor Scale
bones trembling and pale,
leaving splintered shelves
to burn

HOLD YOUR BREATH –
hear the howling of the flames
as the black smoke claims
in a hot-tar sleep
drowning

DON’T LET GO –
the waters gorge themselves high
on the bleeding sky
wet lungs gasp star-bright
and shout

TAKE COVER –
a spark leaps across chasms
oxygen spasms
embrace your lover
waiting

this is how we end

© chris DINGLEY 2013

Not Quite, but Close Enough

It will come to me in a tide
slowly crawling up my ankles
back and forth
higher and higher
’til the fish nibble at my toes.

I will focus on those memory fish
darting back and forth
staying still long enough only
to catch a glimpse
and sink lower and lower.

I may not get their colour right
and they get bigger with each retelling
but I remember the feel of its teeth
the brush of its scales
well enough for inspiration.

And maybe there are fewer clouds
in my rendition
smelling more like salt than rotting kelp
but I will catch my wonderment
just right.

It’s not quite the truth,
but it’s close enough.

© chris DINGLEY 2012

Newton’s First Law

Sometimes, late at night,
the empty roads remind me of space
and I am roaring past the stars
towards a supernova.

Sometimes, late at night,
I listen to the rain on the roof
and I wonder if it’s a message
some divine Morse Code.

Sometimes, late at night,
I try to fall asleep on my back
so I can wake up with my heart pounding
from an impossible fall.

Sometimes, late at night,
I listen to my dog chuff in her sleep
and I wonder if my sleep
leaves words on my lips.

Sometimes, late at night,
I dream with my eyes open of tomorrow
but that only leaves my bed sheets
on my floor in the morning.

Sometimes, late at night,
I just can’t sleep.

© chris DINGLEY 2012

Samson

Doubled blades attack
the holds of my scalp –
my sword arms still and cold.
No one’s to help
the tired remains
of an empty throne.

The ramparts crumble in
as she strokes my hide
whilst I sleep –
I see only her:
Delilah with her knives,
broken locks at her feet.

© chris DINGLEY 2013