Gwendolyn Harper

Sleep of Waking

I tire of sleeping

And yet all around are the somnolent

The unconscious

The dreaming

The listless and stirring

The moaning and the gentle

humping the pillow

weeping into sheets

drunken vaporizing, trying to pickle

The peppers that are a bit too hot

A little too raw, A thimble too … alive.

I know not how to sleep, nor how to stir the waking,

Nor how to wake the sleeping,

Only to endure, to strive, and to remain

Wisdom is everyone, when alone, and by circumstance, silent.

For there is no one with whom to share a revelation

To make the possible real

Only the Constance

Of the ever more, Inevitable sleep.

The Family Circle


My body is occupied

An apartheid of hungry, inconsiderate children, eating and starving and unheedful of words

Crawling all over me, eating and drinking their fill, having their way

Consuming me


They leave so little of me

So less than needed for fuel

For life

For hope

These consuming children crawl upon and devour me.






Stop crying.

Mother is dead.


My Blind Sisters

Do not hear, do not speak

They feel their way, they touch

But tentatively

They avoid hands but seek walls

Of firmest stone and most reliable accuracy

And other raw and bleeding lies

They do not wish to know they are lies

They wish only for your continued



Dead man, dead man, Not a lot to see

A not quite transparent barrier

but inside bone and dust and teeth

Consequence, ends, a burning ashen breeze

I want to leave more than you,

More than teeth, debt, and grief

Family Is grief, murder, and destiny;

Family is prison

Family is the thing you cannot escape

The curse that does not die the line that does not end

Tired of your Middle Class White Agony,

Be free motherfucker, be free

Be Free Like Me

Out and proud

Be poor like me

Out and proud

No agency

Out and proud

Stand alone

Out and proud

What gives, hello?

All of the new closets should forever be

On fire lit with shame You see

a million faggots –  out and proud

died in your name

like Christ, martyred,


Dead just … dead

so, you could stay

Wrapped up snug.

Danger far away.

Hid in your privilege

Secure in your sin

All of you

Cowards, like Him

The terror of

The slow inevitability of death

Is exceeded only

By the much slower inevitability of life

It’s inexorable certainties

It’s caste system of circumstance

It’s preordained dooms

It’s altogether awful outcomes

A forgone farce,

at a slow glacial pace

The gentle walk of murder

The silent amble of inevitability before death

Spin me on the wheel and gamble me

Any other outcome would seem as free

A thought, in the key of uncertainty.


They will never know what it means

To be a child in a cage.

A chicken in a coop

A dog in shelter

Even if you make the save

Get free

You will always see

The bars

Forever barring you

From the outside.

Pressed to the glass

Biting the wire

Afraid to touch the

plastic surroundings

Fear and


And bottomless

Liquid wells of


Later still, later echoes

Little welts, cage

Fear, come find me

Thoracic scathers on my wall


Hiding the pyre


Leaves turn to ash

Turnkey turn your hand in me

Turn the key until I see

The Girl Who Was A Knife

I must have murder in my nature

For all the women I know wish to kill me

And the Men I attract I want more

I know what they want

Needing Seething


Crawling Creeping Arresting


The arresting anger officer

The arresting cancer worker,

Anger like cancer, all-consuming grabbing for a body to



metastasize on

into and out of

my inner most

They want to touch me,

put their hands on

Sliding in

Searching rummaging

for a flashpoint


Exploding white hot

In me

Again, and again the thrusting knife

The arresting type

Infect, insect

I know what they want

But I am not their Sacrifice,

And These are not their Chains

But I see

I too


I am a knife I cannot be held

Festering, blossoming full and green within me, thorns around my heart, erupting from my crown,

Wine of Anger and contempt blooming green within me,

bursting from my skin like chlorophyll.

chartreuse Clearasil

Pollinating all the air around me with oily filth and rage

I cannot be their human sacrifice for I am already my own.

Sharpening my own pantyhose

On flesh and bone

Grinding and bowing a saw boning

I am a knife I cannot be held

Reap these green killing fields,

For you shall not rape this one.

See saw sing song

How often were you caged as a child?  By whom?  How many times?

Did they say it was for your own good?

Did they throw things at you?

How did it make you feel when they said it was good for you?

Final Survey

First cage

No, let’s talk about the second one.  2525 Trinity Mills Rd.

I’d rather do another stint in county thanks.

When you place a child in a cage

Some part of them remains there

Behind bars


Trapped behind rooting walls

You cannot see

Unable to touch or be seen

Come see!  Exhort the bizarre and cross yourself

Because you are not them.

Rubberneckers notwithstanding

Always looking, gaping, fearing, but never seeing, nor feeling.

Future Blue State Superstars, rubberneckers on parade

It took my third, most literal cage, to realize that there was something wrong

Their lies

Their clean sciences

Theories and protocols and other vain strutting bird man things

Preening like a flamingo

Cold noodle reptile scales

Soul tea of cockroaches

There’s something wicked ironic about

Texas Cheerleader Chick

Beating the child  up with her

Rolled up copy of

Texas Monthly

Very Urban Cowboy

Very….oh whatever it is you hollow people do

When you are not hollowing and filling

Little ones like gas stations full of

Invasive tropical insects,

Devouring their insides and creaking on

Our bones in one song. A death song.

Buzzing insect legs against shallow hollow bones

I know your systems how you change things

With my last breath you cannot have her

But she’s already yours.

Washing away down to the sea

No justice, no consequences, but business is doing just fine.


            I’ll look at it later

            When did you tell me that?

            You never said that

You should write more

why don’t you contribute more?

but what do you do all the time?

            If you weren’t so difficult

            Why must you be so confrontational?

            That’s not very feminine

            Quit being so emotional

            Aren’t you a bit old too…?

            Aren’t you a bit young too…?

            Aren’t you a bit fat too…?



            Oh, you’[re one of those.

Silhouettes, footfalls,

Echoes but never seen

A way out can be found

But not heard

See and feel your

Way through this cacophony

Do it alone

You can’t do it alone

Keep trying

Maybe you’ll succeed

By luck, but not by love.

Say it again, take three.

The dead are with me today, en force

I feel they are watching me,

Which fills me with the tremendous

Anxiety that nothing I do will be the right thing

Will be good enough

With the dead watching I fear and breed expectations of failure

Perhaps because they are the dead

Confuses me about what need be said

Free the Beat

Do you believe in ghosts she said


I don’t believe in the dead

The dead are dead

They don’t exist anymore

They are ash turning to gooey liquid slime.

Bag in a box

Item number 111,429

Dead is gone forever. Quickly forgotten

The best

 can be for hoped

Is to leave a beautiful stain where your heart and mind decayed.

I don’t believe in the dead

But I want to

Though I fear their judgement

I ever feel their eyes,

Watching me,

Even though I

Do not believe

But that’s because you see

I’m crazy

The destruction in my head will take

Any voice

Wear any face

Anyone’s identity

If it will help to tear



Bag in a box

Item number 323,513

Leave a beautiful stain, girl and please

Remember me

Proud scared lost little boys

Well aren’t you special

Mr. All White Thing

All of the benefits

Of civilization you bring

Steel bats, barbed wire, and AR-15s

soda pop, teeth that rot, the right wing

Antivaxxer Aryan nation

That’s not what that word means

Go ahead numbnuts and scream Wolverines

Who are these angry little boys?

Who wave their guns as toys?

They suck their guns as though mom was one

But die quickly alone in the dark

Lord of the flies, lord of the flies

Clutch pearls be king of the hill

With bodies that fill

The holy till of all who look different or ill.

A quaint new world order,

Us v. 12 year old murder dorks

Such boys most often

 get annoyed at having to see

The results of their own inadequacies

Played out before us

all to see.  But make way,

Get set,  Up next,  the drone war

Turn the machines on the people galore

Clone drones, on your knees, drone clones, rubber and bleach, stains and teeth,

Bashing their skulls until No one else is left, it’s Droids verses debt

The end


Words are blades

Sawing back and forth

Swinging wings over the clinging crevice

An electric abyss

What does a girl do

When you know you are


Squeezing your gifts all over the scene

Never quite fully but mighty obscene

Squandering your gifts, dipping your hips in liquid slips of gazes and wonder

A bath of hopes and dreams and other squiggly crawling things

Always your eyes on me

But in a dream

In a dream


Inner means

And slicing the seams to reach the stream and drink of screams

And prepressed, repressed teens

Daily Prayer & Malediction

Goddess lead us beyond temptation

Goddess lead us into Depravity

Goddess lead us into Sin

Goddess lead us into Lust

Goddess remind us that we are Animals


True wisdom requires

You shed the skin of thought

And first become a beast

And return

If you would become a god

I am Her morning star 

I am her profane and her light

Blasphemies & xenoglossia

I am Goddess, bow down and worship my flesh, divine in its soft curves, complete in its transformation, its elevation, its ascension.  


Empty, I contain.

I consume, 


I am Her vessel, 

Honor the Goddess by Profaning Me

Worship ME by bowing down before Me and place thy hands on me and profane me most utterly

In your rough grasp I ascend


I am void


Sucking in the light

Hungry as life

Lay your hands upon me

Put your sin into me

Deposit your profanities in me, 

Let me Be Your light

Drowning in



Why I am not a “quiet girl”

Tilt your face upward

Raise your voice into the light

And Shout

Shout to be heard

Shout for your life

Shout for all that has come before

Shout for those who cannot shout

Sisters and brothers and cousins, everywhere

Shout for all those for whom shouting means death

Shout and remain undiminished

Shout until you shatter mountains

It has been a very long, very hard road to get to where I am now.   For a long time maintaining my mental health required a constancy and discipline guiding an archology-like self-exploration.  An intense but slow process of uncovering and correcting. Slow. Torturous.

And some days it still is. Some days the inner tides demand despair. This I have come to accept as part of things.

The best thing I ever did, or one of them at any rate, was to stop being afraid of being “crazy.”  To stop “fearing the crazy bitch” as I once thought it. To accept all of “that part” of me, to let it…be.   AS I learned early in my life as an out transgender woman, and before that as an out queer person (In Texas in the early 90s at that) respectability politics are always there to control, gag, and silence dissenting viewpoints and shame those who espouse them.  and sometimes yes even I who hate and wage verbal war on such social ills as that, internalize it all the same.  Sometimes to a GREAT extent.  To those of us with a neurodiverse nature or with deep trauma in our juvenile years (or both!) it can be far worse.  

So to stop fighting that part of myself that I have inexplicably waged war on for most of my life and call a truce and say “Hey sister, we’re on the same side.” 

That’s a fucking massive and radical transformation. That’s like the end of the cold war.  And it was like the last puzzle piece snapped fully in place and for maybe once ever I could see the whole picture.  I could appreciate all of me in my serendipitous complexity and weirdness in total probably for the first real time in my life.

To accept that part of me.

Let me correct, to accept me.

Another lesson I had to learn, you cannot slut shame someone who is not ashamed of being a slut.  The truth of this wisdom holds true here as well.   Confronting that stigma – any stigma – is hard but necessary work. Hard but even so, that much more rewarding to feel yourself escape and break it’s bounds. 

A transformation as profound as my second chrysalis, when I started HRT in my 30s, and as intense. I feel like some strange new lifeform unleashed on the world, fully aware of her strengths and limitations and all the ways in which she is both alien and familiar to this place. Perhaps not coincidentally, I feel the presence of something greater than myself moving with me, is this religion (or just creeping senility) I wonder? 

Now, unlike before, I go out of my way to turn over all of the old stones in my mind-garden, seeking to find fears and confront, shatter, and harvest more of myself from them.  With every step I take into this labyrinthine garden fear shatters and I am reborn, the second coming of a trembling innocent goddess, wide eyed, but with wisdom. 

She will not be tricked again.

Do not believe their lies – there is revolution in a single touch, and world sweeping moments in small acts of compassion. 

Twist into a widening, spiraling gyre and dance with me, in fire, love, laughter, and blood there is birth and new stars, come and see.

Gwendolyn Harper (She/hers) is a queer trans artist, model,  sex worker and writer who scribbles about politics, gender, the future, science fiction, psychology, horror, games, queer stuff, and kink.   She lives in northern Washington state with her two husbands and an abundance of  plausible deniability.

Proudly feminist, proudly pro-sex worker, let the third wave be a tsunami.

Space is the answer.  Gender is stupid.   Sex is good for you. 

Be a good person      

Be joyous

Crush your enemies

All else is details

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