I was born with two labels
attached to my body:
one hangs behind
my scrotum, says,
“NOT TO BE USED AS
A FLOATATION DEVICE,”
the other sits at the base
of my skull, reads,
“IN CASE OF EMERGENCY,
SLIT THROAT.”

I was born upside-down late
one January night, the moon
a sideways thought up there
somewhere between slimy legs,
Coltrane blaring over
operating room speakers,
doctor playing my ass
like a drum set, saying,
“Don’t cry, kid;
it’s better if you just get used to it.”

I was born with an expiration
date stamped onto the soles
of my feet, tried erasing it
with a belt sander—
didn’t work. So I had them
tattooed instead:
one reads, “Wish You,”
the other, “Were Here.”
I was born the right elbow
of God, left kneecap
of the Devil.
I’m an unholy mess walking
down the street but that’s okay
‘cause you can hear
my Blue Train coming
from a mile away.


Michael Passafiume is co-poetry editor of Lunch Ticket, a literary journal from the MFA community at Antioch University Los Angeles. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Alembic, Dirty Chai, Eclipse, KNOCK Magazine, Lullwater Review, Minetta Review, One Sentence Poems, Paterson Literary Review, Poetry Quarterly, Soundings East, The Subterranean Quarterly and Willow Review. His chapbook, I Know Why the Caged Bird Screams, was a quarterfinalist for the Mary Ballard Poetry Prize for 2015 from Casey Shay Press. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

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