2 Poems

Poetry / CD Eskilson


:: Recipe for Roasted Broccoli ::

When my sibling says they don’t feel subject to our father’s mental illness 
I focus on cleaving through the broccoli stalks. Separating florets from the
trunk, dousing them in salt and olive oil. I want to question the stem
severed from its leaves but this thread tangles when I start tossing with my
hands. My sibling postulates how ordinary growing up was, how little
we’d known about what’s heritable until later. Until trying to form
relationships and being too much every time. How our narratives eschew
slipping grips and siren wails, my sibling says. I watch my broccoli in the
oven as I nod, try to toss the stripped green artery into the kitchen trash.
I miss and hit the wall. I want a gesture that can prove them right. I want to
glue the front door lock our father drove back to review each morning
before work. To sand the floorboard his obsession tried to level. Last
month, I tried cleansing sorry from my language but I didn’t last the
afternoon. I tried until it rained and knew whose fault it was. I know our
father would’ve folded long before me: would’ve blamed himself for
gravity, would’ve safety-pinned the drops back on the clouds.

:: At the Midnight Show of Sleepaway Camp ::

My queers and I clear from the aisles annoyed 
and damning the director, entering full takedown  
mode. Onscreen a trans girl romps through  
teens’ dark cabins, the panicked cry of she’s a boy!  
giving this slasher its shock-twist. Today 
the image we’re all killers remains deadly, 
has only grown more mainstream. But others  
in our group push back, defend the film.  
All huddled at a Denny’s, we listen to them  
fawn over the catharsis in a murder-fest.  
Admitting over plates of fries to dreams  
of wasting bullies, dropping angry beehives  
on assholes throwing slurs. From the ruckus  
of debate between our booths the film’s  
subversion sharpens: critiques of gendered  
violence, forced dysphoria emerge. Can’t we  
hold both readings of the movie to be true?  
Know the risk in such vindictive gore, that  
it still offers us resistance. That we might  
carry on with movie nights and diner talks,  
the uneventful lot of it, an arrow pointed 
at the next abuser’s throat. Can’t we  
promise to slay whoever creeps these woods 
and return thereafter to our quiet trees? 

From the writer


:: Account ::

hough var­ied in their forms and themes, these poems inves­ti­gate how the sto­ries we’re told about our iden­ti­ties mark our lives. My forth­com­ing poet­ry col­lec­tion Scream / Queen (Acre Books, 2025), inves­ti­gates how rep­re­sen­ta­tions of mon­stros­i­ty or “insan­i­ty” per­vade soci­etal con­cep­tions of both transness and men­tal ill­ness. Through com­pact­ed prose forms, the speak­er exam­ines fam­i­ly lin­eages of Obses­sive-Com­pul­sive Dis­or­der and its ongo­ing effects on their dai­ly life. Col­laps­ing the poet­ic line and stan­za here com­pli­cates the poem’s sense of time to under­score the con­tin­ued ram­i­fi­ca­tions of their rel­a­tives’ strug­gles. Mean­while, oth­er poems respond to pop­u­lar hor­ror films to inter­ro­gate the com­plex lega­cy of gen­der pan­ic found through­out the genre. Poems like “At the Mid­night Show of Sleep­away Camp” strive to rein­ter­pret the reac­tionary dehu­man­iza­tion prop­a­gat­ed by trans vil­lainy and reframe these hor­ror nar­ra­tives to allow for queer and trans sur­vival. Here, mon­stros­i­ty pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty to reimag­ine an exis­tence for those liv­ing out­side of cis­sex­ist and patri­ar­chal confines.


CD Eskil­son is a trans poet, edi­tor, and trans­la­tor liv­ing in Arkansas. They are a recip­i­ent of the C.D. Wright/Academy of Amer­i­can Poets Prize, as well as a  Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and Push­cart Prize nom­i­nee. Their debut poet­ry col­lec­tion,  Scream / Queen, is forth­com­ing from Acre Books. They were once in a punk band.