Iris McCloughan


I think I’m not supposed to want
the ring, to be bound by gold.

I think I’m supposed to find shimmer false,
or cold, the outward face of things,

not their heart. I’ve always loved
the feel of restraint, real or otherwise,

the fragrant hood covering my eyes so I can see.
I’m a man. I’m not afraid to admit I’m weak.

To submit to something, knowing it will force me
open, that’s me tracing the face of what’s coming.

I give up, let my arms hang loose, let another, shrouded,
come and move them, whispering as he does

the key for the unending stream of shapes
he makes, bending each joint to the point that it breaks

and sometimes stopping.
Other times not.

Iris McCloughan is a trans* poet living and working in Brooklyn. They were the winner of the 2018 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from the American Poetry Review. They are the author of the chapbooks No Harbor (2014, L + S Press) and Triptych (forthcoming, Greying Ghost) and their poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, jubilat, juked, Gertrude, and decomP, among others.