by Gina Marie Bernard

Dysphoria is a campaigning sorceress / a Svengali that conjures

itself // learns rote a duplicitous augury / and cuts each deck false //

a fakir scrawling across papyrus / mystic avatars of the severest

tortures // and self-mortifications. / Nimbly, I practice sleight of hand //

combing cobbled streets for those / to deceive in sating my

compulsion. // I riffle through tattered cards, manipulating /

behind each smile // a force that belies free will / like this inability

to sever myself // in half and divorce the shadows / clambering

canvassed walls. // Often now misdirection collapses / the matrix

fails, my rings unlink // and manic patter cannot draw attention /

from the sickly sheen of flop sweat // glistening my brow. / Horrified,

I pinch shut eyes. // Fingers pressed to temples, I summon myself /

as you enter this parlor. // A brace of startled doves unfurls / about

us like a silver parasol. // Despite fervent cries, I cannot escape /

my long-destined malediction // and disappear in choking

tendrils / vaporized before your astonished gaze.

Gina Marie Bernard is a heavily tattooed transgender woman, retired roller derby vixen, and full-time English teacher. She lives in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her daughters, Maddie and Parker, own her heart. Her chapbook Naked, Getting Nuder was a finalist in the 2018-2019 Glass Chapbook series, and has been accepted for publication by Clare Songbirds Press. Her work has recently appeared in r.kv.r.y quarterly, The Hunger Journal, Waccamaw Journal, and Jet Fuel Review. She has work forthcoming in Anomaly, Ariel Chart, Coffin Bell Journal, Lavender Review, Riggwelter, and trampset.

Image found on Flickr:

#poetry #prosepoetry #ginamariebernard #circus #sideshow #dysphoria

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