Survival Practice

by Jasper Wirtshafter

I know how to start a fire
how to build shelter from sticks and leaves
and how to make love after being raped

I know how to run a 10k
how to cook on an open fire with a steel grate
how to purify water

I know how to navigate the wood and city streets
how to ask a stranger fro help
how to travel light

I know how to file taxes and fill out spreadsheets
how to survive in a world that values my spreadsheets more than my survival skills
values my livelihood more than my life

I know how to survive another comedy show where a body like mine is the punchline
how to survive another horror story where a body like mine is the boogie man
how to survive another news clip where a body like mine is just another freak in a body bag

I know how to administer intramuscular testosterone shots
how to talk someone down from suicide
how to hide pills from myself

I know how to act in a crisis
how to watch my back
how to cope when watching my back isn’t enough

I know because I’ve had to learn
despite every way they say people like me are weak
we are practiced in the habit of surviving

I know we fought so good we made cliche the phrase “it gets better”
soon it will be worse than I have been alive to remember
but

I know queer culture was built from what AIDS left behind
we have survived before
we have survival practice


Jasper Wirtshafter is from Athens Ohio, in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. He has been writing and performing spoken word poetry for four years.

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