By | 1 November 2018

she dealt me a quick hand
across the dim table, the
smell of stale menthol, day
old breath in a lined face,
though she hated the term
‘trans elder’, made her laugh
like gravel underfoot; spitting
words shuffling rounds, we
couldn’t help it, we held her
in this heightened esteem.
she said darl are you in or
do ya fold
, punctuated with
drawl, no shame at all that
she’d aged out of the space
where people still called her
brave; girl to my left throws
down a hand and says the
magic word, we savour the
part where we still laugh in
this closed dealing coven.
pass, an admonishment, a
tapping out from this hand
and we still share knowing
looks, laugh behind loaded
glasses and sip; we carve
space from expectation, sit
here and deal with anything
but, fast game’s a good one
and outside this room don’t
we take on the house and
lose it all, but here, in this
place full of smoke there’s
no hackles left just chips
and bets none of us can
actually afford; pass again
and the pot’s swept to my
right, leaves me thinking of
this room and these people
hidden out of sight behind
doors and the kindness of
night, of this woman before
me, the face of a model ten
years before, like what’s the
deal (oh, mine?) with this
weaponised invisibility held
over our heads; passing as
the elephant in this room,
passing as a policing tool,
passing as just a man in a
, passing as a fucking
surrogate for status quo,
passing as a sitting down
pissing contest,
as maybe the only safe way
to leave the house alone. i
sit back and she chews ice
at me, reveals her hand
and smiles.

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