on fitting in and dying out -- slam poetry by Matthew Kim
Updated: Jun 22
i want nothing more than to stand out.
to own this body, flaunt it,
to not care if the stares are from admiration or disgust;
i have this recurring dream—
i’m presented with a single button,
and if i press it, the next morning,
i wake up new.
i wake up beautiful.
and then i wake up—
i hate this body.
but, contrary to popular opinion, i have not disowned it.
i grip onto it like a poorly-kept secret,
hiding it in oversized hoodies and sweatpants,
hoping that nobody discovers what it truly is,
who i truly am,
i douse myself in uniformity to stay alive;
and i wish i could metamorphize into a better phenotype,
curl out of shape and into a world that’s built for me.
i’ve waited years to step
into the glamor of femininity
and look in front of me and see a world that’s mine to lose.
but i don’t even have a claim on my own aliveness;
i am at the mercy of people who avert their eyes at my sight,
the butt of jokes, bills, and guns,
my girlness is eye-candy for men,
target practice for fundamentalists.
and, in a world where my very existence is an act of resistance,
i have become too tired to fight back.
i have made my body a temple of america,
a never-ending endeavor at normality;
i have shed my personhood for the melting pot.
just to not be labeled a groomer at seventeen,
or a tranny,
so i don’t have to be scared of alleyways,
of walking outside and never coming back in,
because, contrary to popular opinion,
i don’t want to die—i’ve scarred over enough already;
i have stab wounds from where brianna ghey was taken in a public park.
i have blunt force trauma from where leelah alcorn was hit by a semi-trailer.
i have scars from the blade of disbelief i drove into my wrist when i realized my days as a boy were gone.
the world has taken enough life from us already.
so i laugh along as the firing squad focuses its arms.
i am the model minority,
i shut up, i do well,
i hate myself so others will love me,
it’s better when they think you’re funny,
so i’m the punchline.
because, if i’m stereotypical, maybe, i won’t stand out in a crowd enough to be murdered.
maybe, if i deny myself a dress, i’ll live past my thirties;
estrogen is no more than a fantasy for me,
i dream about injecting myself
until i realize that syringes aren’t the only blades that can mutilate the trans body,
the only thing i’m more scared of than being a boy is being a girl;
you see, i have this recurring dream where
i wake up new,
i have this recurring dream where
i wake up beautiful;
i have this recurring dream where i never wake up.
An Asian-American poet, journalist, activist and nerd born and raised in the Bay Area, Matthew Kim uses their poetry to explore gender, Christianity, second-generation Korean-American identity, and coming of age in an antagonistic, confusing world. When they’re not writing poetry, they love solving Rubik’s Cubes and reviewing music.