Two Queers Walking the Borderline Between

After Hernan Bas’ The dead line


We have terrible senses of direction and neither of has learned how to turn the ignition to leave our bodies behind. So we walk, but never in a straight line. You blame your poor balance on being born premature; I blame mine on alcoholism. But I often think we are saying the same thing. I say, this life is tightrope and you hand me a balancing pole, which is really a tube of black cherry lipstick, sometimes liquid eyeliner. I tell you, my guilty pleasure is Tudor style homes and I think it’s because I’m afraid to be made of just one thing. You know me well enough to know what hurts and where. Queer, what you have in your hair is all down feathers, dandelion stems, and the ways in which you’ve saved me. When we take new names, we give each other permission. Call it cell division. Call it asexual reproduction. Call it we sexier now. I say I want to turn my body into a straight line. And you chant until it’s true: Kayla/Kayleb/Chris/Kit. You ask have you practiced yourself in cursive? Have you touched yourself yet in ink? We allow greed when we are together, because greed, to us, is the only way to stay alive. When I can’t see, your names bobby pin the hair from my eyes. When I can’t taste, I take the lipstick off your lips with my lips. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, mimicry is me saying I love you. I am you.


Kayleb Rae Candrilli is author of What Runs Off, forthcoming with YesYes Books. They also serve as the non-fiction editor of the Black Warrior Review and are published or forthcoming in Rattle, Puerto del Sol, Booth, CutBank, Muzzle, The New Orleans Review, and others. You can read more of their work at