swamped – mud howard

when we think of rage, we summon our mother.
unsullied memories of her barefoot & bloated,
knifing the air beneath our father’s scraggly chin,
making crazy look sacrosanct in the flouro light.
“there was a time when sexual harassment was a
compliment,” our mother says, brushing the blue
out of her eyes. how provocative. how unpunished
those men must be. tipping orange buckets of lust
into the gutter & still making it home untouched.
ask yourself where were you when you first felt
the frothing bite of his eyes locked to your body.
ask yourself how old you were when you watched
your first porno gangbang & trembled under the
twitching motor of your left hand doused in oil.
who did you imagine yourself to be? I was sixteen.
sometimes we sleep for days after walking outside.
we unwrap our hair from the sticky cocoon of bed
& suck lychee jelly off the tips of our cold fingers.
we are drawn toward and repulsed by that which
electrifies us, the neon rash of pixels crawling over
my body, headed straight for the door. I lay in the
sauna of my terror, dripping, moonless. I cellophane
my nipples to a hunk of flesh & can’t be fucked for
two years. when we squeeze citrus into the pitcher,
all our wounds light up and a deep, ancient sting
rises to the surface. do we know how to outlive the
onslaught of gender? how long can we stay tied to
our mothers, who are tied to their fathers, who are
tied to the men who hunt us down? you should
hear the unbroken sound of our rage creeping
through the dark green reeds, an airbrushed howl.
we bite down on our pulsing fury. we ride it out.




mud howard (they/them) is a gender non-conforming poet, performer and activist from the states. mud creates work that explores the intimacy and isolation between queer and trans bodies. mud is a co-editor of pnk prl, an online queer erasure zine, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. they were the first annual youth writing fellow for Transfaith in the summer of 2017. their poem “clearing” was selected by Eduardo C. Corral for Sundress Publication’s the Best of the Net 2017. mud is a graduate of the low-res MFA Poetry Program at the IPRC in Portland, OR and they were an first year artist-in-residence at the Residency in the Garden. they are currently wading through an MA in Creative Writing. you can find their work in THEM, The Lifted Brow, Black Napkin Press, and Cleaver Magazine. they spend a lot of time scheming both how to survive and not perpetuate toxic masculinity. they love to lip sync, show up to the dance party early and paint their mustache turquoise.




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