Cognitive of the day We tumble ran to the lake Tripped off pants Slipped down dress Frantic laughing to the water Control lost, no play cool Wet lips pressed, slick Summer hot skin, steam Dripping lake from strands Pushed from our eyes Lure me under again Dysphoria originally published in Fevers of the Mind Presents the Poets of 2020 I was told this is what I had to do So my eyes seek a shape, pattern – fixation Numb the mind Climb inside the dark circle of the paneling Twist into the loops & swirls of the curtain Trace the maze of the tiles on the floor It will all be done soon This is what I was told I should do That body isn’t mine But I lug it around And with it a persona to puppet Who was I with her? How did I behave around them? No one really knew…me I can’t say hello to you of five years ago. I took this skin out & we spoke words that had meaning then, maybe I don’t remember them now How forgetful, unthoughtful, you’ll think Who was I? How much of me did you really see? Better to burn the past than pick through splinters I suppose this life is akin to living in a suitcase Taking out this being, this flesh to engage A misfit to the mind Desperate to love, but moments of love felt like terror as well Numb the mind Find a shape And if I were to change this skin Receive stitches and sutures to be a more fitting form You might be perplexed You might think it a joke Those who felt closest May just deny, grow angry, grow sad Call on the name of ghosts now gone But a puppeteer’s arms grow heavy & sore After half a lifetime of shows And once the rubble of the mind is cleared The choice must be made to live life’s remainder In a performance for others Or to stop staring at patterns Ethan O’Nan is a trans man living in North Carolina, he has a wife and 2 children. Ethan only dabbles in writing these days. His whole life has led to the last few years fully understanding what to do to make him feel on the outside like he has always been on the inside. The older brother of EIC David L O’Nan, Ethan is a business owner along with his wife Kristi. Ethan enjoys 80’s music, art, crafting, making soap, & comedy.