Cleopatra came out as queer but the world was not quite ready
(Or, my partner completes a Rubik pyramid in seconds
so there is still hope in this world for us who are living)

The wind feels breezy
and apocalyptic.

So machete my jungle
wet mouth to bits and understand

Cleopatra did many things
worth loving.

She said snakebite and
the world swung

a jump rope around the sexed-
split tongue of the Nile.

I’ll admit that I want to be
both queer

and immeasurably powerful.
These are cosmically meant

to coexist. At night, my partner
uses their angel-

sharp fingers to clean
my wounds, plucks

tendons like chord progressions.
We keep cobra

venom in our pockets.
We love

each other unexplainable,
like which came first,

the chicken
or the egg.

We love each other
like queers immortal.  

Elegy for the Undead

I admire your half-
life, the way you refuse

complete death & rewrite
your worst misgivings

to be even bloodier.
Beauty is a dead-

dry tongue hollowing
a pulsing conch.

The ocean can be heard
in all empty things.

& it is this quiet wave
sound that explains

the over-confident
swimmer, twist

broke in the rip
tide. Young people die

because they are too alive.
This is proven algorithm.

This is breaststroke
with a concaved lung.

There is a lesson
to be learned

from those that refuse
to go gently. I’ve learned

to keep my tongue
wet, & soft,

& gentle. 

On Harvesting Oneself

In rural America, bad
land is trans land.

And I have lived
in the fragile

space between drawn
property lines—

ownership is just
controlling both

the chisel
and the block.

What a thrill to cut
with such sure intention. 

The Once Girl Hunts to Feed

When I was a girl
I would harvest myself

before buck season.
I would call animals

out from the forest with a mouthful
of reeds. Pastoral. Predator. It’s been so long

since I was.
So please

stop judging me for all
I’ve killed

and instead consider the still-true
beauty of those I haven’t.

My family was hungry
once. I was hungry

once. I am sorry
I opened my mouth

and I’m sorry I used it. 

Kayleb Rae Candrilli is author of What Runs Over, forthcoming with YesYes Books and winner of the 2016 Pamet River Prize. They are published or forthcoming in BOAAT Press, Puerto del Sol, Booth, Vinyl, Muzzle, Cream City Review, and others. Candrilli is a Best of the Net winner and a Pushcart Prize nominated poet. They serve as an assistant poetry editor for BOAAT Press and they hold an MFA from the University of Alabama. Candrilli now lives in Pennsylvania with their partner.