Leveler Poetry Journal
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Man Revises Nature


All tents should be silk. I can’t oil canvas

shoes anymore, I’ve had it. When I come

back to the city, everything is the same.

The men all wear beards again and the

girls are cutting their hair or braiding it

and everyone is baking, especially the muscular ones.


Flowers are expensive for a reason.

All the lines radiate from the center.

We have a lot to learn as a species.

Our ancestors crossed very cold spaces.

If it were us, we would have surely died.

Everyone comes over and walks down

spiral steps. Sometimes someone ends up bleeding.


The piano hasn’t been tuned for three years

but the man who tunes it has small hands

so we will be okay. Some strings go AWOL

and others march in line. I was in a bell choir

when I was a child. That nun could play

but couldn’t sing. Me neither. Many nuns

have survived violent childhoods, which makes sense.


Boys like to stick with other boys and girls

like to stick together until that stops. Girls like

to be the only girl in the room, more or less

than boys like to be the only boy. These truths

are harmful to certain kids. I never wanted

to be a girl, but not for the reasons you think.

Boys were allowed to bike ride with their shirts off.


My husband is really good at doing flips.

Like seriously good at this. It makes me very

nervous. The tension of the diving board.

And the little ones say Wow. There is

an inflatable shark on the loose. And only

one raft, not big enough for us all. Soon,

the pool guys will come and find us bleached here.


The pool guys are always guys. I don’t know

if their work is skilled or unskilled labor.

I’ve never had a pool. I lied to colleagues

in an icebreaker and said I know

how to tune pianos. And when asked what tools

I used, I said an awl and a really good ear. People

who don’t know awls believed me and I won that game easily.


We were in a townhouse in Harlem

and the basement was filled with organs.

The soft electric buzz and pedals for your feet.

I learned not to overuse the damper pedal

on the piano like playing underwater. In

my childhood home an oil painting hung

above the piano: blue waves, a storm green sky


and a gilt gold frame. My Italian grandfather

left an abalone table with carved gold legs and

a statue of some princess. Two nights ago

everything collapsed in the middle of the night.

Glass and plaster everywhere. My parents heard

the crash, looked outside, found the wreck in the morning.


There were no survivors. My grandpa loved

ornate things, a man of taste. Men are always

reinventing taste. When I found my tastebuds

for the first time, I thought I was dying.

Maybe kids will start growing teeth from their

post-gender throats. We agree that something has to change.

Emily Brandt