“They Want To Run Us (Into Our Graves)” by E Kerr

Rehearsal Dinner 1 by Nadia Arioli

a Marble Run after Kayleb Rae Candrilli, and a Duplex after Jericho Brown


Sometimes I wish I could take a bullet
to all the voices in my head.

In my head, all the voices shoot
bullets, and deaths become whispered syllables.

Our deaths are whispered, become syllables,
and we know when we will come to an end.

When we come to an end, we know
it’s at the hands of unspoken violence.

You speak with such violence. I know hands
can beat their way into thoracic cavity walls.

I found my way around walls; eventually
gun barrels became door handles.

Gun barrels became door handles and my mother
opened fire.

My mother opened a casket,
expecting me to fall in.

Expect a fall
when they run us into the ground.


They want to run us
into our graves. Do you tell everyone you’re trans?

Every relative tells me
my transness will lead me to hell.

Lead me to hell, and I will make something
of nothing, so long as this body can be heaven.

This heavenly body belongs
to nothing. My mother demands I take what I did back.

I take back my demands from my mother — know she is lost
among discarded breast tissue and clippings of course hair.

She lost her head among clippings of breast tissue,  
discarded discourse and deemed this my damnation.

Of course I’m deemed damned
by this nation
. They do not understand a body they cannot control.

They misunderstand my body; they search for control
and ways to make me listen.

Listen: I search for life
in parts of me that have died.


When everything has died, life will
remain outside of these vessels.

I remain trapped in a vessel
my mother engraved with someone else’s name.

I used to wear someone else’s name, engraved
into my bones. How can I betray that calling?

I was called upon to betray my bones, reject the rigidity
of calcium and connective tissue.

My mother rigidly rejects my transitioned
tissues. She only recognizes the girl in her photographs.

The boy I am recognizes her in photographs. My mother
tells me she will never take them down.

My mother will never take me, but she prays
God will fix me.

God, please fix me,
I pray. I’ve learned enough from her lessons.

I’ve learned to be less than enough.


E Kerr (they/he), a transmasculine poet whose work has appeared in Esprit and Rappahannock Review, received the inaugural 2022 Stemmler/Dennis LGBT& Award. Kerr studies occupational therapy with double minors in English and creative writing at The University of Scranton.

Nadia Arioli’s visual art can be found on the cover of Permafrost and in Wrongdoing Magazine, Feral, Strawberry Moon, Anti-Heroin Chic, Northwest Review and Kissing Dynamite. They illustrated James Rodehaver’s chapbooks, published by Cringe Worthy Poetry Collective.