[a mile in smog and a mile in fresh air]
a mile in smog and a mile in fresh air
are not the same mile.
the red tree stretches toward
the river as you reach your arms
over my sleeping body.
i'm dreaming of bears scaling cityscapes
and my old house on fire.
i am wax paper beneath your breath.
the morning foods in
and cuts me in two.
one half goes in your pocket
and the other into the air.
this happens every day and somehow there is
always more of me.
Copyright © 2019 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is a trans woman poet living in California. Her work has been published in Poetry, The Paris Review, Denver Quarterly, Lambda Literary, PEN America, The Offing, and elsewhere. She is the author of two poetry collections: There Should Be Flowers (CCM 2016) and Outside Of The Body There ls Something Like Hope (Big Lucks, 2018)
“Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s book, I’m Alive. It Hurts. I Love It., is a book that makes us 'feel everything.' It’s an absolute celebration of the self, with a persona who embraces pure emotion and feels everything immensely just to make sure we will, too. A persona that unabashedly tells us, 'i am sad/but i don’t want to talk about being sad./ i’m going to talk about being happy' because 'life/ is fuckin’ beautiful!' Cathartic and brilliant, Espinoza’s genius shines in this book as a shapeshifter set on a soul’s journey that only ever ends up in a state of pure bliss and exhilaration for the gift of being. ‘thank you for letting me be alive,’/ i whisper/ to no one in particular' this book sings to us, except in fact, we are listening for its whisper and its yell, gratefully, hungrily taking in its holy aura. I really love this book and I know you will, too. “
—Dorothea Lasky, ROME and Milk
“Wise and brimming with feeling, Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s work seems to emerge from the other side of revelation. Her poems, that is, do not reveal but know that the body is both a dead-end and a site of possibility. That language is a necessary violence that makes and unmakes us. That the unbearable must be borne. In this newly expanded edition of her first collection, Espinoza reminds us that hers is an essential voice issuing from “the edges of what it means to have a body,” to be a person, but nonetheless tangled in the terrible, beautiful fact of being alive.”
—CA Conrad, While Standing in Line for Death and A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon
"Espinoza’s gift is her use of exquisite language and arresting images to capture this contradiction of self-destruction and resilience that lurks inside us, a piercing glance that is compassionate, but not pitying, into physicality of trans women’s lives."