butcher rack by Cei Loofe

 i wanna be a boy!
 that’s what i told every ‘old lady’ 
 that came to play bridge with my grandmother. 
 they would smile…
 ruffle my hair and say
 ‘you are cute honey, but you’re a girl.’
 and they were right. 
 i was cute.
 saddle leather tanned
 feathered with incorrigible
 able to fly with a wing span imagination wide 
 i ran shirtless, chest first into everything i could
 i would be cowboy, riding propane tanks all the way to dallas
 and building callouses on my hands from swinging on the kill rack
 long into the night
 washing the blood off before i came in.
 by the time i was seven i knew the meaning of sin.
 i didn’t know wanting to be a priest
 instead of a nun qualified
 so i lied after grandma’s disapproving glance
 and her suggestion i find a better habit. 
 i can still say mass, word for word. 
 i heard all her all their admonitions
 shame on you, young lady.
 wore the blouses they put me in
 my hair held perfect ringlet curls
 i became the precious i was expected to be
 and somewhere in the process
 i lost me. 
 my skin became pale.
 my feathers fell.
 i was no longer able to fly.
 the callouses left my hands, 
 i hung from the rack by a rope.
 long into the night. 
 but with a foothold, not a noose
 wishing to wash off who i had become,
 begin again, in new skin.
 two thousand  ‘what if’s’ and hundreds of ‘why not’s’ later
 i grew courage-gained new feathers sprouted in confidence blue.
 my arms stretched hallelujah-finally wide and i began to fly. 

Cei Loofe writes and makes art in Seward, NE with an ASL speaking dog and a quad of stone flipping fish. Loofe spent 25 years as a free-lance journalist before switching to creative writing. Since, he has been included in several anthologies and has been published three times independently.

November Editor, Ronda Miller was State President of Kansas Authors Club, 2018 – 2019, Miller has three full length books of poetry: Going Home: Poems from My Life, MoonStain and WaterSigns and chapbook Winds of Time. Miller’s first children’s book, I Love the Child, was published 12/13/2019. The book’s illustrator is Katie Wiggins, a found cousin. I Love the Child, won first place for The Children’s Books Award at the Kansas Authors Club State convention, October, 2020.


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