Callan Williams, Poems B


drink breathe

state of grace  
a queer sadness  
the path is chosen  


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drink breathe
copyright Callan Williams <>
- - - - - - - - - - -

hot summer day
river runs cool
watching from
the bank

swift current
no time to breathe
carried along
with all the others

the shore
isolated and dry
too dry
dream of a sip
water of life

lost in the water
found on the bank
dry and alone
liquid and lost

air of freedom
water of connection
isolation of distance
submersion of source
life of resistance
life of surrender


thrown in the water
emerging from the womb
learn to breathe on our own
adolescent lives

I fear the immersion
a life lost in reaction
river of human culture
flowing faster each day

wash away our separations
become a part of the whole
swept with a tide
struggle and die

stand proud and free
become who you are
away from the liquid
quenching human needs
water in cycle
waste and refreshment
passing between
carry life

learned how to breathe
proud and free
standing tall and bright
yet sometime or other
we must each stoop
to drink

arid and thirsty
for all things human
afraid and fearful
of drowning again.

state of grace
copyright Callan Williams <>

change focus
state of grace
god voice zone
place of bliss
soul erupting
out of body

automatic creation
deep within
beyond fear
unedited truth
spinning yarns
which knit themselves

divine feeling
divine grace
hard to trust
facing void believers
weaned on televison
weaned off trust
changing the channel
to expectations

peace is here
in the danger
speaking freely
gut spilling voice
fire pierce eyes

watch a candle
burn with light
from inside
pathway to grace
neuron trigger
communal brain
perform the function
stimulating base pairs
encrusted with expectations
searing seductive spirit
slicing bounds
open to grace

ecstasy embodied
intense joy
zoom to god
fear becomes tiny

armor slips away
grab for it
pull out
god becomes tiny

copyright Callan Williams

"Yes," she admitted
"when I first saw your breasts
I hoped they were real."

They could be,
I told her
if I wanted to let surgeons
implant plastic bags full of goo
under my skin.
If I wanted to risk
encapuslation and infection
to get a result that
wouldn't look or feel
like part of my body.

They could even build me a vagina
without muscles or tissue
very short and at an odd angle
maintained though dilation
limited in sensation
and even possibly non orgasmic

They could break my jaw
carve my nose
insert plastic in my cheeks
use metal tubes to suck out fat
to try to make my face more feminine

They could slice up my head
taking out chunks of skin
moving hairs around
to try to bring beck my hair.

All these possibilities
plastic body
simulated female
for your comfort

my disguise
of what I was given
in the lottery of genetics
just to try to show
what I was given
in the lottery of spirit.

a queer sadness
copyright Callan Williams 1998 <>

a queer sadness
I wanted to talk to you
because you looked so sad
and I thought maybe
you would understand my sadness too
she told me

I remember that evening
I was trying to be perky
look upbeat and engaging
but it was
the queer sadness she saw
(along with my beauty, she tells me)
that drew her close

Now she watches me
and tells me I am happier
in my women's clothes and makeup
not different, mind you
just happier.

Yet that happiness is touched
by a queer sadness
which comes from believing
exposing my own happiness
opens me to hurt, separation and destruction
from people who don't want
happy queers
in their eyeline.

let me see them suffer
for their sins
so my children will know
following your bliss
only leads to pain

inner happiness
ecstatic display
of individuality
queerly leads to abuse
and rejection

the risk of people
who believe my happiness
mocks their sacrifices
for a life of mediocre normativity
for the kids.

denial of joy
a queer sadness


"My mother came to see me sing, and I looked so happy on stage that she understood and accepted me." said Alexandra Billings

"When the guys in the band saw how much happier I was dressed as Paula, they said I should dress that way for performances. Sure, it's a bit exploitative and a bit of a gimmick, but I'd much rather play in women's clothes than men's."

This is the issue: happiness. And it is rated against so many other things: comfort of others, risk, standing and so on.

How much is happiness worth? I'm not sure I'm the one to ask -- it has never been valued in my family, in my life.

It's OK to work to not be unhappy, but to be happy is a slap in the face to others who aren't happy. That's how support groups go -- we affirm suffering and sadness but not ecstasy and happiness.


"Look, you can be queer, but only if you look like you are suffering, so we can point to you and tell our kids, "See, that's what happens to queers," so wipe that smile off your face or we will wipe it off for you!"


Joy drops defenses, and that is dangerous, right?

copyright Callan Williams 1998 <>
(written as a response to a theory post by rachel pollack)

yes yes yes
erotic attractions
around my gender
who I saw myself as being
who I saw loving me
or lusting after me,
what the hell.

being a man or a woman
may not be primarily about sex
rather about roles
child rearing
modes of expression
but to paraphrase Emma Goldman
if there is no flirting in your revolution
count me out.

ah yes.
lusty ribald passion
show it sexy
filmy stockings
supple leather
heat of flesh
sizzle of difference
coming together in rut
human explosions
of the (usually) procreative kind

well worn paths to orgasm
feel so lonely when
the dance is only in my head
and not with a sweating partner
burning with heat
for me.

just the magic
thinking sexy and embodied
looses the flow
not a lover seeing the minx in me
just my own glimpse
carnal tensions
between myself and I

to dream of partners
seems a canned heartbreak
to trust that lovers
will reflect the beauty inside
swiveling hips, swaying breasts, smooth skin
crushes dreams
of pounding hearts

I watched the dance lessons
high school mating rituals
learned a few steps by rote
but no one ever asked me to dance
undulate my skirt
swaying bum
cha-cha heels
hair brushing my face
hand on the small of my back
all just done in dreams
of being sexy
in a way that feels right
in a way that is wrong.

seximages move me into
places of melty passion
places I go alone
places I don't know how to take a partner
who can't see my own dreams.

when did I learn to dance in sync
daddy's little princess, mary-janes on brogues
trust the moves and the reflections
take me in your arms
feel the strength of a partner
polarized and locked together
two halves of a whole
repelled and attracted
into lust?

how could anyone ever dream
of someone like me
as a sexy mate
if they never knew someone like me?

I can try to be what they lust after
I can try to lust after what I want to be
I can try to build bridges of lust
I can burn bridges of trust
I can love myself
take the old magic pathways to explosion
where I turn beautiful
turned on, beautiful

the sweaty leotard of my dreams
revealing glowing skin, sinuous muscle and
hot flesh
lives forever in my own lust
dreaming forever
of one who peels away the armor
by dressing me up
sees some inner me
and gets all

copyright Callan Williams <>

Is there anything more frustrating
than in the moment when
we feel a martyr
we know
we have to be
a manager?

We feel the pain
an unresolved childhood
wanting to be taken care of
knowing we need to take care of
the mess

Surface People
copyright Callan Williams <>

its the surface people
who scare me
those people
who are so in the moment
that they never see
their moments show
how shallow and twisted
their thoughts are

don't be on the surface
don't surface me
or you will terrify me

more than scary
which lives on the surface
vehemently protecting
the hidden secrets
which terrify them

copyright Callan Williams <>

I have control
force of will
power of concentration
absolute and total control
over what leads me
into utmost danger:
my bladder

urinary apartheid
sanitary segregation
that closed door
marked Women

I am a woman
the choices of a woman
but I am not female
my achilles heel
is my penis

Control the bladder!
hold it in
hold it all in
so as not to be exposed
to toilets

though the hall
down the stairs
picking though the construction zone
to the designated facility
signed and sealed in a piss pact
queers go here

the either or question
when we face the doors
to the minefields
be on guard
and choose the right one
or choose to control
the bladder.

We manage our intake
schedule our fluids
like on a space trip
and emergencies which come
bring terror and fear

"We went to the ladies
but she waited in the car.
I can't believe the control
of tranny bladders."

Watch the entrance
who is in there?
Stakeout the door
create suspicion that way

Rushing in
do your business
everything tucked under
cues for messiness here
stand and draw
knowing gaps in the stall
have triggered guards
and beatings
it's true

No time
to linger
no quick makeup check
readjusting your clothes
panty hose may slip
but pull them up in the car
snakedance on plastic

You watch the women
who when they arrive
take a trip to the loo
to primp and resettle
makeup and hair do
not you.

What if they speak to you
a moment of connection
and a voice spills out
tipping the scales?

It's a surgical dream,
"Excuse me sir,"
after alterations
you can prove you belong
penis turned inside
stride and not hide

Enter those doors
make a statement
bound to be wrong
to someone or other
assumptions confirmed
assumptions denied
all because
you have human needs

Miracle of miracles
the bladders of trannies
emptied into plastic cups
or just sealed until bursting
the simple necessity
of public necessity
denied to us
by those two little signs
women and men
denied a safe choice

the path is chosen
copyright Callan Williams <>

the path is chosen
the unmothered child
becoming the mother
a woman who goes to the mens room
who stands and speaks
for the simple truth
the lines humans draw
are illusion
and we have the ability
we have the obligation
to draw them in ways
that empower
not oppress

are thrust onto one
without seeking them
only those who understand the gravity
can help others fly
penetrating surfaces
which bind us to fear
helping others fly
in a world become
three dimensional
and full

a non-passing
whose seductive power
ruffles peoples
houses of cards
the big bad wolf
blamed for shoddy craftsmanship
in building a life
no one wants to eat them up
but hurricanes are
a natural force
one that goes lonely
in a bottle

forces of nature
forced to deny nature
because nature engenders fear
fear prompts destruction
before revelation
before nature is exposed
in their heart

We Know The Cost
copyright Callan Williams

we notice
when people treat us
because we are
visibly transgender

telling stories
about supermarkets
and assumptions
and rudeness
and loathing

we know the tales
of how it feels
to meet the judgment
of people who see us
beyond social control
too queer to tolerate
in front of the children.

it is in the name of children
that we are humiliated
keeping the world safe
by keeping it sanitized
of what might lead babies to question
the lessons of normativity
a storybook life
where what is edited
is more important
than what remains

we know how
oppress us
assumptions of sexual indulgence
assumptions of rudeness
assumptions of normativity
assumptions that what scares someone
is a deliberate slap in the face

the stories we don't trust
are stories of success
the questions omnipresent
is it self-deceit
or just denial
to say
we have power in the world
that people know and respect us
for who we are
when we stand boldly
out and queer
compassionate and different.

confidence shot by
projectiles of fear
buried in our minds
from early attempts
to show a nature
wrapped in stigma
a life
without open space
to practice being

the responsibility
for other people's comfort
for the ignorance
of children
dumped on us
as the heinous thieves
of imagined innocence
by showing
the lines which separate humans
are illusions

lines make people safe
erasing them
make people feel scared

the power, though
is always where
we cross worlds
we are the door
between here and there
between man and nature
between flesh and god

to walk proudly
confident and gracious
the stick of fear
removed from our back
knowing that
every step is a risk
every smile a danger
and the more effective we are
the more we are feared
and the more people
want to silence us

we know the stories of fear
the stories of ecstasy
even in the face of stigma
are harder to find
and because we see the cost
and the pain, fear and rage
harder to believe