MERCURY-MARVIN SUNDERLAND

Mercury-Marvin Sunderland (he/him) is a transgender autistic gay man with borderline personality disorder. He's been published by University of Amsterdam's Writer's Block, University of British Columbia's Decomp, UC Davis' Open Ceilings, UC Riverside's Santa Ana River Review, and UC Santa Barbara's Spectrum.



OTTER (OT.TER)


[NOUN]


1.


an aquatic mammal of the weasel family


2.


a gay man who bears characteristics of both bears and twinks


.


an otter

holds a starfish

a crustacean

a sea urchin


in his hands

as he floats

on the water’s surface.


he twists & spins

chewing what

he has to give




empty shells

fall to the bottom below


he swims

head first

backwards


he is graceful

& carefree


how does

he do it

so easily fur


shining slick

& he dives deep.



THESE SNAKES DON'T BITE


reach out

& touch


feel the quivering scaled bodies

wrap around your fingers


these snakes

don’t bite.


only squeeze


venom clings to your jawline

as you manage for a meaning


your teeth

are only

so strong


suddenly

bones break


you screech

& from your mouth


hail thousands

of mice.


snakes swallow

your fingers


wrap loosely around the

stumps


& leave for the

scattering rodents


these snakes

don’t bite.



(WHEN YOU FINALLY ENTER THE PSYCH WARD)


you say

i haven’t slept in three days

& they take your

heart rate


(so this is what it’s really like)


see hallucinations

held up in that room tonight


there is nothing

but you

a mattress

& disposable masks


(you may double the masks as sleep masks)


eat just barely

your nausea

will betray you slowly


(that man screams)


he shouts outside the door

& you huddle in your room

in fear


(there is nothing)


strap you to

the stretcher


it is morning somehow


& your mirrored reflection

stares at you

from the ambulance ceiling


(can you tell me your name)


how did it all happen

suddenly you are

bumpy socks

on your psych ward room


there is no one

but you


two windows

two mattresses

an empty bookcase

empty sink with a small mirror


& a padded small bathroom


(would you like a roommate)


you ask

do you have any other autistic trans people


grip pencils upon paper

your hands quake


you ask

can i take a shower


barely keep yourself standing

upon tile floors


you bleed again

you have not had your period

in many years


the stress on your body

just too much


you can hear the other’s screams


(his head exploded)


(he just kept stabbing & stabbing)


three days

until release


(when you finally enter the psych ward)


you say

i haven’t slept in three days

& they take your

heart rate


(so this is what it’s really like)


see hallucinations

held up in that room tonight.



OCTOPUS


spreads all

eight tentacles


color changing hues

for the world to see


doesn't he

cling easily


octopus is praised

for his ability to preserve

to cling to the surface

with each mighty sucker


he is

the scourge of

deep sea night

no bones


hides himself easily

inside a glass jar

to be lost & forgotten


no skeleton

will be left


only memories

upon seashells


ink remains

on mistakes


octopus

spreads all

eight tentacles


color changing hues

for the world to see.