Chase Berggrun


Poem in praise of self-hatred



I feel potent in my pains, in my curved spine, in the increasing

difficulty of holding the pages when I read in public … I might

have a bizarre sense of beauty, but my disease feels beautiful to

me. It feels powerful. —Raúl Zurita




inside of me there is a barren field I am ecologically sparse


in a thicket somewhere the bees hum monstrous children searching for my tit


in this new city where I have a new body


where I am the apogee of my efforts some sick sort of patchwork girl


I kneel I give thanks to the various gods of confusion


in the mirror I’m a museum of indecency


my nudity I do not understand I get the shivers when I see myself


my skin my arms pocked with scars


& I say out loud to the empty apartment


I feel like the most vile thing on this earth I think back


to the spaceship I used to pilot


that I had to guide through each dangerous maze


I was a child & watched my mother drown our family


I was just 12 years old & I knew I would never be the kind of happy


the kind that other people had so much of


the kind they threw to their dogs


I learned not to like anything especially myself


this habit has proven particularly impossible to correct


it’s nearly spring now I flit my tongue into the cold


I want to freeze my senses so that I won’t have to know desire


look at this life I am holding it together like carrying a completed puzzle from one table to another


& in the black forests of my mind


I imagine the future real & tangible splayed beside me on my bed


& I squeeze it close & I pray for the sun to die


outside my window they’ve just installed a new street lamp it is the brightest lamp in all of history


out there everything strains outward


I become the definition of anxiety


& my indescribably messy bedroom my precious squalor begins to tighten around my middle


I gasp into the stain of cigarette smoke haunting the walls


the tin ceiling dancing its little patterns


outside my window they are doing work


I don’t know what that means I don’t know anything about work


the Gowanus smells like carbon monoxide an odorless gas


last week I found a noose tied to a branch of a mulberry tree hanging over the water


I don’t know why I brought it home I’m not looking to use it


the dead fish of the Gowanus swim with the grace of an oil spill


the rope is strong in my hands the way my hands are not


a friend holds my feeble heart through the phone


I feel like a prop the cast forgot to incorporate into the scene


do you like my mask isn’t it pretty it raises the dead


this is me at my most desperate


I’ve begun to worship the weight of my wineglass


outside my window of course I can see no stars


in the sky innumerable corporate satellites are training their red lights on me


infinite possible universes bubble in my gut


in the sky nothing is happening


the G train rumbles through the night there are no passengers


in the sky I wish there were infinite poetries


I consider the way Zurita kissed the sky & made it sing to all of New York City








& my pain is my great comfort a blanket of the worst snow


I watch my sweet disease take hold of me as I exit my body I epitomize glee


I watch my pain swing my body into a liquid motion


I watch the sickness of my heart steam itself over a candle & whistle like an incantatory kettle


I watch my perversion on the small screen of my palm & it makes me shudder


I know definitively things are not alright


I am the soil toxic down to the bedrock I am a poisonous plant in an herb garden


waiting to be held waiting to secrete my paralyzing substances onto someone’s gentle hands


I snort two lines of coke & while I hold one nostril shut


I see my father in his coma I hear the respirator’s fading buzz


sing to me O muse I am your pious sieve


Poet Chase Berggrun author photo

CHASE BERGGRUN is a trans poet. They are the author of R E D, forthcoming from Birds, LLC in 2017, and the chapbook Discontent and Its Civilizations: Poems of Erasure, published by jubilat in 2012. Their work has appeared in the PEN Poetry Series, Sixth FinchDIAGRAM, The Offing, Prelude, Apogee, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. They received their MFA from New York University.