Stare at us: twins, bound by flesh and chance;

a woman with a beard so full, so immaculate

you wish it is yours; a man whose

flesh is remade in ink and iron.


Each of us shaped by birth or choice,

until you stand frozen before us like possums

crowding night roads, dreaming yourself unique

among the faceless throng.


You think us radically individual, we who survive

by being unlike you. But we are one,

shaped in taunts and whispers, forged

by seizing what you call weakness.


You believed us alone, lawless, without recourse,

discarded as rags, bones behind the carnival.

Now, the price. On four legs, or two, or none, we surround you.

So used to leering, yet you overlook us, until


we take hold. Come: we will reshape you.



Israel Wasserstein's poetry and prose have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Flint Hills Review, Coal City Review, and elsewhere. His first poetry collection, This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, was a 2013 Kansas Notable Book.