On Discourse and other poems

by Elyssa Tappero

On Discourse

What’s in a name? That which we call Rosa

by any other name would smell as sweet.

And yet we give each of a hundred species a name

and a name to each of a thousand cultivars.

Would you deny Rosa persica its singular title

or call Rosa canina Rosa kordesii?

Would you claim there’s no difference

between the homes of Rosa carolina and Rosa chinensis

or the thorns of Rosa acicularis and Rosa sericea?

The humble rose is no less lovely with one name or another

yet we honor the beauty of difference with the blessing of language.

If we can give each bud a family, genus, subgenus, and species

can we not respect the names with which our fellow humans define themselves?

Are we not worthy of the same deference as the smallest rose?

Koi No Yokan

there are no terms for how I love you

like the ocean loves the land

like the soil loves the rain

no labels for how I need you

like birds need the wind

like berries need the sun

no categories for how I have become

a salmon swimming upstream

a seed settling in the earth

a falling star disintegrating




A Prefix of Negation

take my voice, sea witch!

grant me fine legs in return

a worthwhile bargain

even if each step pains me

at least I’ll be like the rest

take my voice, sea witch!
after all, what use are words?
brief, untouchable
yet flesh is warm and solid
bone and blood make us human

take my voice, sea witch!
I just want to be normal
feel the things I should
I long to walk on the shore
but now longing’s not enough

take my voice, sea witch!
change the self I never chose
give me sensation
for I’ve given up on words
and now I’d give anything

What Care Had They For Pronouns?

I think perhaps

I am as much a woman as

Scylla with her many serpent heads

Charybdis with her churning waters

Ammit with her long crocodile jaws

all bloody from chewing rotten hearts

which is to say

not really.

Tappero is a queer pagan who writes fragments of prose and poetry about mental illness, the gods, the agony of writing, and how it feels to be alive for the end of the world (which is pretty not great) in hopes of touching others who might feel the same. She is honored to have been published by The Tide Rises and Stone of Madness Press. You can find more of her work at www.onlyfragments.com and follow her on Twitter at @OnlyFragments