Conversations With Joseph, One Transwoman’s Experience With Her Assigned Self, Part One, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Conversations With Joseph

One Transwoman’s Experience

With Her Assigned Self

Part One


Jennifer Angelina Petro





Some of my trans friends aren’t going to like these conversations, nor will people who think I am belittling various mental health conditions.  Some transfolk will think these conversations make me less trans, or not really trans, or perhaps they will think these historical records make me more gender fluid or genderqueer than trans. However, I am not gender fluid, gender queer, or anything else.  I am a male-to-female transgender woman who just so happens to still be very connected to her assigned self.  This is simply my story, my experience. I have no intentions of making fun of anyone with multiple personality disorders by writing (transcribing) these conversations.  They are a part of my healing experience.  Healing from what?  Everything Joseph suffered to keep me safe before and after I came out.

You see we are connected, joined at the hip, so to speak.  And what makes this all the more remarkable is that Joseph didn’t have a conscious thought I existed until we were 47 years old.  Oh, he knew on some deep subconscious level, some soul level.  He knew deep down and did his damndest to keep me safe, and as a result of my being there nested in the very center of his being, visible to those around us in the ways I expressed myself “effeminately” through him—he suffered terrible abuse and twisted, radical conversion attempts.  Without trying to sound dramatic one could say Joseph was ravaged by those around him before he was fourteen.  By the time he was eight he was dissociating on a daily basis. He survived horrific abuse because of me.  Well, better said:  Not because of me, but because of the limited, fear-based, perverted minds of those who tried to prevent my birth.

One could say that I am Joseph’s soul.  He even calls me his, “Beloved.”  This doesn’t mean he is the one presenting to the world.  Joseph has stepped back.  He has gracefully left center stage and trained the spotlight on me.  However one wants to view our connection, the main thing to know is that it is real.  It exists.  And no, I do not want to be called, Joseph.  I am NOT Joseph.  I am Jennifer.  This is MY life.  Since coming out though, the roles have been reversed on some strange levels.  Joseph is now living within me, not like a soul, but more like a spirit, a fragrance, an angel.  He still protects me, not that I need it.  He still wants me to be free and happy and safe and healthy—not that I need him in order to be those things.  I choose to have him intimately involved in my life because I care for him and feel, in a certain sense, like I owe him that.  And he would still lay down his life for me again and again if he could or needed to.  He also knows this is my life.  I am in the driver’s seat.  And he wants me to shine.

He also knows I love him.  And he adores me.  Another way to describe our relationship is of brother and sister, Joseph being the older brother.  I was the changeling unwanted and left at his door when he was a young man (of course I’ve been there since the beginning–let’s just go with the image as a way of understanding the dynamics between us).  He tells me when he found me he vowed to take care of me, to protect me and to raise me in secret until I wanted and needed to step out into the light.

The main thing to understand is that these conversations are not “made up.”  They are dialogs that have taken place in my head, and heart and body, and therapist’s office.  They have taken place by the Wissahickon Creek in Fairmount Park, they have taken place while we were driving or shaving.  They are real and describe real events and real feelings and real experiences.

And yes, they are my way of processing what has happened to me as a transgender woman.  Regardless of whether you believe they actually took place or not, we ask you to read them with an open mind.  It is our hope they will help the world understand the growing phenomena of the transgender individual.  It is our hope one day soon being transgender won’t be considered a phenomena.  It will be as normal, so to speak, and accepted, that no one bats an eyelash when a transgender person walks by.  And even better perhaps someday the word “transgender” will be replaced with simply “male” or “female” or whatever gender one identifies with.  We also hope these conversations will help younger trans kids identify and perhaps have new ways of putting into words their experiences, or maybe to frame them in an artistic context. It is also our hope to demonstrate that there is no one way to be trans.  Everyone’s experiences are not only valid, but true for them.  The trans-policing within the trans community needs to stop.  And now, I give you the Conversations.


PS: Please forgive any goofy formatting.  I am not very techie and can’t quite figure out how to get this all looking the way I want here on WordPress–the way it looks in the Word Document. Grrrr….




Conversation One: Driving Together



Jennifer:                      A couple months ago I found myself in a trance and while I was
there I went through the process of letting you go—of letting
you go back into the light.


Joseph (smiling):        I remember.


Jennifer:                      It was a powerful experience for me.


Joseph (laughing):      Me too.


Jennifer:                      You were so gracious; so encouraging.  I had said I wanted to try my hand at

living without you.  I wanted to drive the car of my life, so to speak.


Joseph:                        Yes.  I believe the words you used at the time were: ‘It’s time I let you go.’


Jennifer (pausing):      Yes.  I think you’re right.


Joseph:                        It’s OK.  It was time.


Jennifer:                      I know, and you were so kind about it all, like you are about everything.  You were,

and always have been, a gentleman.


Joseph:                        Thank you. You are beloved to me.


Jennifer (Looking down, then back up):             I know.  I know I am.  And I am so lucky.


Joseph:                        You were saying something else though.


Jennifer:                      Yes.  During that trance I felt it was time for me to live independently of you, but I

didn’t do it out of a lack of gratitude or respect.


Joseph:                        I know. I know you Jennifer.


Jennifer (smiling):      And when I saw you let go of my hand, like a proud parent turning away as their

child went off to college, you looked so proud.


Joseph:                        I was.  I am.


Jennifer:                      So when you turned and dissolved into the light, I cried thinking you were finally

home and at peace after all you had gone through for me.  You have suffered so

much for me, and I had this chance—I mean, I wanted to try to live on my own.  I

remember you smiled and waved as you turned to go.  You were happy to nudge

me out of the nest, weren’t you?


Joseph:                        I knew you needed space.  I knew you wanted to fly solo, to take the wheel, to

soar; and I wanted you to feel free.  I wanted you to be free, and if needing to let

go of my hand was what had to happen in order for you to be free, then I would

have run into that light except I think that wouldn’t have looked so graceful as

when I walked slowly into the light.  Much more dramatic.


Jennifer (laughing):    You left so willingly.


Joseph (standing up to bow):      I am your servant.


Jennifer:                      You are so much more than that to me.  You are my friend.


Joseph:                        I’m glad.  I feel the same way.  We’re friends, yes, and, I am also your servant.


Jennifer:                      When I watched you go into the light I felt so free, so full in my own womanhood.

I felt ready to take on the world and live fully and completely as a woman.  And I

thought I needed you gone in order to do that.  I thought I needed to strike out on

my own to be independent.


Joseph:                        And?


Jennifer:                      And I was wrong.


Joseph:                        How so?


Jennifer:                      I still need you [taking Joseph’s hand]. I still want you around.


[Joseph lays his hand on Jennifer’s.]


Jennifer:                      Will you come back from the light and stay awhile longer, maybe, even, forever?


Joseph:                        Jennifer, I stepped into the light because that was what you wanted and needed.

And after I took some time to embrace the light, the Source, to re-energize, so to

speak, I turned right around and came back.


Jennifer:                      What? Wait…I mean, I get that you’re here with me now, but I thought….I thought

you were just visiting.


Joseph:                        We’re all just visiting.


Jennifer:                      But I thought once you went into the light you couldn’t come back.


Joseph:                        We’re all in the light every moment, so when I went consciously into it—freely,

happily—knowing you were feeling strong and independent, I was happy, and in

truth, I never actually left you.


Jennifer:                      But where were you?  I didn’t see you.  I didn’t feel you near.


Joseph:                        Jennifer, you are not the only shapeshifter.  I became the moon, the fireflies, the

cicadas, the praying mantis you saw after you got your date for surgery. I became

the autumn, the squirrels playing by your window.  Jennifer, my beloved, I

became everything I thought might bring you comfort as you walked alone.



Jennifer:                      Wait, but then, did I?  Did I actually walk alone if you were really still with me?  I

mean, I am happy to hear this, and I guess I sort of knew in some way this was

the case….but did I actually live alone?  Was I acting independently?  Was I

driving the car?


Joseph:                        Yes.  You were.  You lived alone.  I was never going to say another word to you or

openly ever reveal myself to you again unless you asked me to or wanted me to.

You were driving Jennifer.  You were flying.  I saw.  I knew, and it was all you.


Jennifer:                      Do you forgive me?


Joseph:                        I’m the one who should ask for forgiveness. I guess you could say I tricked you.


Jennifer:                      You’ve always been tricky.  You’ve always done whatever it takes for me to be

free.  There is nothing to forgive.


Joseph:                        Same here.  You didn’t do anything wrong.


Jennifer:                      Thank you.


Joseph:                        You’re welcome.


[There is a long pause.  Both have tears in their eyes.]


Jennifer:                      So…you will….um…will you stay with me like you did before?  I mean, I still want

to drive, but will you go with me?  Will you sit next to me?


Joseph:                        Yes.  I would love to.


Jennifer:                      I might crash.


Joseph:                        I’ll wear my seatbelt.


Jennifer:                      I might get lost.


Joseph:                        Then we’ll see unexpected things.


Jennifer:                      I might get tired and ask you to drive sometimes.  Is that OK?


Joseph:                        Yes.  And we only go where you want to go and how fast or how slowly and

when.  Remember—


Jennifer:                      You are my servant.


Joseph:                        Yes, and being a chauffeur is part of the job description.


Jennifer (laughing)     Job description?   When did you get that?


Joseph:                        When the light left you in a basket by my door, there was a little note that read

‘Job Description For Keeping Jennifer Safe.’


Jennifer:                      Really?  And it really said, ‘chauffer?’


[Joseph reaches in his breast pocket and removes a small, folded piece of aging paper.]

[Joseph hands the note to Jennifer.]


Joseph:                        Here.


[Jennifer takes the note and unfolds it.]


Jennifer (reading):      “Job description for Keeping Jennifer Safe.   Do anything and everything it takes to

keep this precious treasure safe from harm and living freely.  Chauffer

when necessary.”


[Jennifer folds the note and weeps and laughs all at once.]


Jennifer:                      It does say that! Oh Joseph, I love you.  You really are my assigned self.


Joseph:                        Yes. I am.  And thank you.  I love you too.


[Jennifer hands the note back to Joseph.]


Joseph:                        Please, you keep it.  It will help you if you should ever feel I am not around.  Oh,

and there’s something else I should tell you about that note:  It’s magic.


Jennifer:                      It feels like it.


Joseph:                        Good.  Because it is.


Jennifer:                      What kind of magic is it?  I mean, what does it do?


Joseph:                        Read the note again.


Jennifer (reading):      “Job Description for Keeping Jennifer Safe.  She picks.  She decides.  You support

her by making yourself invisible sometimes.  It’s her life.”


[Jennifer stares at the note for several moments, weeping.]


Jennifer:                      I love you Joseph.


Joseph:                        Thank you.  I love you too.


[Jennifer looks back down at the note.]


Jennifer:                      So it changes?


Joseph:                        Based on whatever you need or want in any given moment.  You’re the boss.

There’s been enough Joseph time.  It’s your life.


[Jennifer neatly folds the note and places it in her purse.]


Jennifer (standing):    Let’s go somewhere.


Joseph:                        Whatever you say.


Jennifer:                      Let’s get something to eat.


Joseph:                        Indian?


Jennifer:                      Pizza.


Joseph:                        Let’s go then. Keys are always in the ignition. It’s all you.





Relax, You Will Not Be Eaten by Bears Even if You Think a Lot About Being Eaten by Bears, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Relax, You Will Not Be Eaten by Bears

Even if You Think a Lot

About Being Eaten by Bears


Jennifer Angelina Petro



I saw this ad on my Facebook sidebar that said something like: “You become what you think about,” and, “think happy,” and it got me thinking and feeling annoyed.

Yes, thoughts are things, but do you know what a thought actually is?  I mean really?

Is a thought the stuff that drifts through your head like air through an open window, or static on a radio?  Is it something you create out of your own “mind-stuffs”—in other words is a thought is something you “think it up?”  Is that a thought?

I ask because some people who push things like the Law of Attraction (and I know this because I used to push it myself) haven’t a clue what they are talking about (just like I didn’t), and, as a result, they hurt people, frighten people, helped people feel powerless and defeated.  And that sucks.  Big time.  I am making amends for my past stupidity and this article is part of that process.

Here’s the deal:


1). If you spend a lot of time thinking about ashtrays, you will not become an ashtray.

2). If you spend a lot of time thinking about medicine you will not become a doctor.  You might become a doctor, but it wouldn’t be because you thought about medicine day in day out.  It would because you studied and worked hard and got yourself into debt over college loans for the rest of your life.

3). Most of what passes for “thinking,” isn’t.


Let’s use some negative reasoning to help us understand what thinking is not.

Thinking is not all the afore mentioned stuff that drifts and sifts and dusts itself through your head.

Thinking is not all the “mindless” listening to NPR or the chatter of other people on the subway (yes, I used the word, “subway,” on purpose to make an allusion to the subconscious.  Some would argue we actually live based on what’s stored (collecting dust) in the attics (basements, dungeons, silos) of our subconscious minds.  This is like believing I am suffering in this lifetime for something I did, but cannot remember doing, in another lifetime.  It is a cruel idea.  It is like saying: “Here, YOU suffer for things unknown.  YOU suffer because I suffer and don’t know why I suffer, but I am going to tell you why YOU suffer.”).

Thinking is not all the stuff you “think” about in a given day—the bills, the bad drivers, the fate of the nation, etc.

And now what I am about to say will sound like a contradiction:

Those things just mentioned above are all examples of “thoughts” yes, but only if we believe the definition of a thought as being anything that just so happens to be in your head at any given moment.  But I don’t categorize these things as the kinds of thoughts that can be properly put into the file of, “thinking,” because they are not the kinds that can ever have truly creative properties.

So please, stop worrying about becoming bipolar because you think about bipolarism.  Please stop worrying you are going to get eaten by a shark because you watch so many shark attack videos.  Please stop worrying that your house will be robbed because you worry about your house being robbed.

Our fears do not, I repeat, do not, attract the things we fear into our lives.  Promise.

I mentioned there are thoughts that have creative properties however.  What kinds of thoughts are these?

They are the ones you invest your heart into.  Thoughts that you think with your heart in addition to your head—those are powerful things; things that can bring about great changes in the world and within yourself.  Here’s why:

Thoughts themselves are images really—sense impressions/impulses flashed on the screen of the mind—they are largely static, lifeless things, sort of like random magnetic poetry words on a refrigerator. However, once you stop, focus, draw your feelings up from your body, from your heart, suddenly those plain, “meaningless” thoughts begin to take form, shape, make sense, create beauty, excitement, dialog, poetry.  YOU have to rearrange them though, like the magnetic words on the fridge. You give them meaning by what you DO with them and how you FEEL about them.  In other words, thoughts can become powerful creational tools when infused with the heart, the soul, the spirit, and most of all, actions.

If you “think” a lot about being attacked by bears but never go into the woods, you’re probably safe from bear attacks.  If you “think” about bear attacks AND THEN go out into places where bears live and you drag around slabs of meat and cart along backpacks full of honeypots, well, then, you might just become bear poop in the very near future.

You see the difference?  One is empty(ish) and the other is boosted with actions.

I suffer from clinical depression.  I have spent many years in various forms of dissociative states.  I am a trauma survivor and someone who suffers from PTSD.  The last thing I need to hear is “think happy thoughts and you will start farting rainbows, and dancing around happy as a well, farting unicorn.”  The last thing I need to hear is “if only you would discipline your thinking to think positive thoughts you would be happy.”

There are times in my life when asking me to think positive thoughts is like asking someone without legs to get up and run.  I simply cannot do it.  I am not choosing to be mentally ill.  I have not chosen to be unhappy.  And I haven’t become depressed by simply thinking depressing thoughts any more than I will become taller by thinking about stilts.

People who find success with positive thinking are probably not as fundamentally ill as I am, and I am tired of being shamed for not being able to think as happily as you.

It’s similar with the Law of Attraction (LOA) cult.  Yes, my thoughts are things, but they are not homeopathic.  They will not attract other similar thoughts and thus, eventually, the desired thing (usually money, success, a relationship, a yacht) (nothing wrong with wanting any of these things, wanting is good, I am just pointing out the LOA cult leaders prey on people who are often economically disadvantaged, the lonely, the down-trodden, the ones who, forgive me for saying so, but who do not think clearly because they CAN’T).

The only kinds of thoughts that will attract other similar thoughts are the ones you think with your heart and hands.  The ones you put your blood, sweat, and tears into.  Things you love.  Things you not only desire, but know are true and good for yourself and the world.

Of course, positive affirmations and positive thinking is a good “idea.”  If it helps, go to town.

So, instead of telling me to “think positive” and to just “be happy,” or to just remember, “thoughts are things,” tell me you love me.  Tell me you’re here to listen.  Tell me you will drive me to my therapy appointment or come out for a cup of tea with me.  Tell me you’re sorry and that you care.  Whatever you do, know that I am listening to you and that it would be great if I knew we could stand together in the world, and not worry together about being eaten by bears.







There is No One Way to Be Trans or the Number Three, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

There Is No One Way to Be Trans, or the Number Three


Jennifer Angelina Petro



There is no one way to be trans just as there is no one way to express, well, anything, even, let’s say, numbers.  The number three is a quantitative value that can be expressed with three acorns, three pieces of candy, three pennies, a triangle, a tripod, and so on.  It can be expressed as 3, III, or three—not to mention how it is expressed in the many different languages of the world.  The fundamental value of a three does not change because of how it is written or illustrated, or expressed or in what language it is referred to in.  Transpeople are fundamentally human beings who just so happen to exist and express themselves on a spectrum of infinite variety.

I could care less how “feminine” I look in some respects, in others I do, but the point is, I choose what is right and true and comfortable and fun for me.  I do not base my gender identity or expression on what the world might think is most “feminine.”  Three pencils and three jolly ranchers both express “threeness” equally validly, and “correctly.”  I express the value of “transness” not wearing makeup just as much as another transperson wearing tons of makeup.

I have met transwomen who were trapped (or so it seemed to me) in the traditional gender binary.  And this is sad.  And can be tragically sad.  Some transwomen try so hard to fit in to what they perceive is the “right” feminine gender norm and kill themselves when they perceive they can’t or don’t.  Some transwomen seemingly buy into the same misogynistic impressions of “femininity,” that many cis-gendered people do.

This past year in which I came out, several transwomen have told me I will never “pass,” unless I fix my eyebrows.  Of course, I had no idea my eyebrows were broken AND I had no idea “passing” was the goal. I thought being my authentic self was. If that includes passing, cool; if it doesn’t, still cool.

One transwoman, a few years older than myself, recently said, after looking me over:

“Have you ever heard of the uncanny valley?”

I hadn’t.

“Well, it’s the idea that some robots and zombies and aliens, etc. make humans feel eerie and uncomfortable because they appear to look CLOSE to human, but aren’t.”

“I see,” I said, while inside drifting steadily into a protective dissociative state (really).

“You just need to fit in more,” she went on without mercy, “work on your makeup, your hair is too flat, your clothes, well, your clothes are OKAY, but you can work on those too.  And your eyebrows…they are way too big.  You haven’t feminized your voice or your moves—your walk.”

Later, after much reflection and a healthy dose of needing to be talked down from a highly triggered state of dysphoria, I thought about just how sad it must be to be her.

She is stuck—I daresay—bound–to the belief that the task of a transwoman is to fit into “American” society’s prevailing views of what women should look like.  If I would only “feminize” myself in such ways, this would, in her mind, make me look more “human,”—less threatening to the “normies.”  If I would just toe the line of “traditional,” “American,” “feminine” ideals then I would find a job and a place to live.  I wouldn’t be so depressed.

I also realized later on that I must be a threat to her on some levels.  She was likely told and bought into the idea that she had to look a certain way in order to be a “real” woman, a woman who “passes,” or a woman who, at very least, doesn’t draw attention to herself.  There are, of course, very real safety concerns for some transwomen, but I think in this case, I must have contradicted decades of, what deep-inside she must view as, her wasted time, money, and life trying to “fit in.” Turns out you can be trans and not have to look a certain way, not have to give a fuck about fitting in.  Something she may never have been told.  Something she cannot bear to hear.

The fact that I don’t wear makeup must fly in the face of her “traditions” about what women should and should not do.  The fact that I don’t care about covering my five-o’clock shadow might make her upset for all the money and time she spent on electrolysis or expensive makeup, not to mention the time she spent shaving, and so on.  The fact that I don’t care how fluffy my eyebrows are might make her resentful at herself for all the countless hours she spent plucking, waxing, trimming, shaping, or threading her eyebrows—and here I am—a whipper-snapper transwoman—who comes along and says: “Um, I’m trans, and I have fluffy eyebrows.  Fuck you.”

Of course it is completely possible she looks the way she does, and does the things to help herself look the way she does, because she likes it, because she chooses it consciously, thinks it’s fun, affirming, liberating, and so on.  And that’s all totally fine, totally acceptable, totally trans.  And when I dress the way I dress or choose not to “feminize” myself in the ways others think I should, I am also acting perfectly, acceptably, and totally, wonderfully trans.

So let’s get some things straight, because there are some things in the world that need to be straight, and these are a few of them:


1). There is no one way to be trans.

2). There is no right or wrong way to be trans.

3). Transgender folks are human beings just like everyone else.  We do not belong to any uncanny valleys.  Uncanny valleys are stupid.

4). There is no one way to be a woman, a man, or genderfluid, genderqueer, asexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, a child, a dog, a puppy, cat, whale, moose, tree, or sky.

5). There is no need for transgender policing in the transgender community.


Those are eternal truths just as the number three will always and ever be a three.  A thousand years from now you can hold three pieces of stardust in your hands and they will still represent the number three. A thousand years from now the idea of uncanny valleys will still be stupid.

A penis is most commonly found on “men.”  A vulva most commonly found on “women.”  But that doesn’t mean they are the only places for those organs to be found, and further more they do not define the gender of a human being any more than an arm, leg, nose, liver, or knee cap does.  I am a woman with a penis.  And I don’t like wearing makeup very much.  And further-further more, I just divulged a very personal bit of information about myself because I chose to.  In actuality, what anyone has or does not have in their pants, skirt, spacesuit, etc. is none of your business, and if you think it is, then perhaps the idea of the uncanny valley IS valid because it would then apply to you.

I am a transwoman with fluffy eyebrows.  I am a transwoman who still likes her voice.  I am a transperson who doesn’t believe in “dead names.”  And I am still perfectly, wonderfully a number three, a person, a transperson, a woman who just so happens to be powerful, creative, and full of life.  I am a person who just so happens to be fed up with the policing that goes on in some trans communities.  A person who cares deeply about the young transfolk coming up behind us.

They need to be accepted completely and fully for who they are and how they want or need to express themselves.  They need us.  They need us strong, together, and smart.  They need us to have their backs.  They need us to look in the mirror and at one another, and at THEM, and see love—pure and simple expressions of infinite variety.


me again 2







Rising, Falling, Rising, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Rising, Falling, Rising


Jennifer Angelina Petro



Watching the particles of dust

Falling in the lamplight

Of my bedroom reminds me


We are all falling,

Largely unseen in a light

So bright we careen into it, like

So many infinitesimally small moths.


Have you ever tried

Focusing your eyes

On a specific speck of falling dust–

The tiniest sliver of a snowflake,

As it sailed the currents

Of air in your room?


I have. After several attempts,

Which resulted in losing sight

Of the scintilla of dust in the white of the wall,

I was finally able to trace one

Descend, like the smallest slice of string

From some disintegrating, illuminated leaf,


It fell, and I saw it rise

When I exhaled, dip suddenly

When I inhaled, bank wanderingly

Towards the wall, tail back

And make my eyes cross

When it landed on my face.


Remember this:

After you turn out the light

Grains of dust fall upon you,

Pieces of pieces of falling white feathers

Slowly, methodically, like

The faintest of snow falls,

Covers you and everything

You love, like snow-embers

From some unseen fire,


And one day, when you realize

Your life is being traced by a greater

Vision, you will wake up

And see your life brushed

With ash, and you will rise,

Shake it off, remember

You are a pinch of stardust,

A dash of spice, a smidgen

Of fragrance, and it is time

To elaborate on the trajectory

Of your dreams, and turn the unavoidable

Process of falling

Into flying—

Flying into the light

Of your own brilliant desires.





The Stone Ledge, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

The Stone Ledge


Jennifer Angelina Petro




The slant of light upon the grass

Where tattered tapestries of autumn leaves

Rise and fall, reveals the bones

Of a long since dead bird.


How is it I never noticed it before?

How is it I never stopped to grieve the leaving

Of this winged being?


Oh, I am busy, I know, but I do

Almost always look down when I walk,

So why?  Why did I not see?


Perhaps before it died I could have

Done something to help it live, take

It to a sanctuary or aviary,

Perhaps, at very least, I could have given

It a proper burial.


Now its bones, brittle, air-gone,

Lie in a little heap, wings fanned out

Into forever.


There is no going back.

There is no back to go back to.

However, there is a point of no return.


The way ahead is dark, empty

Of sky and wind, the way ahead

Is bones revealed in autumn,

The way ahead is wings spread

Without sky, without the holy



I turn, bend close, go ahead

And lift the dead bird in my hands,

Carry it to the stone ledge, retrieve

A garden shovel, dig, let my nose run,

Place the skeleton down as gently

As I possibly can, return the earth,

Bless the leaving, cover the hope

Of ever flying again.







Stations, by Jennifer Angelina Petro



Jennifer Angelina Petro



“Have a good one,”

the teller said,

and I wondered

as I carried my bags

to the car:

“Which one?  One what?

Why limit yourself

to only one?”


The autumn train

is pulling away from the station

leaving trails of red

and gold in her wake.


Having missed my stop

owing to worry

and a pull to end

my own life, I roam

the Philadelphia streets

looking for someone

to tell me there will be other

ways to get through

the winter stations,

there will be friends

at the end of the line

holding signs and flowers,

there will be an end

to the tears,


and spring will be there

waiting to the do the rest—

waiting to welcome

a good one home.






Catfish Creek, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Catfish Creek


Jennifer Angelina Petro



Some days

and more

some nights


the catfish creek

beckons me

to lift my skirt


and wade into her waters

and find rest

among the leaves


falling on my upturned face

and passing clouds

fogging my eyes


until the night comes

and drains everything

in crimson currents


where no one will find me

except the cottonmouth

and the rainbow trout


and the moon

fading in the floating palms

of my empty hands





Awakened, by Jennifer Angelina Petro



Jennifer Angelina Petro



This morning I was awakened

by pain in my left heel.

Until that moment, asleep or awake,

for probably somewhere in the neighborhood

of forty years, I forgot I even had

a left heel.


Why is it, I need pain in order

to wake up to parts of my own body?

How much like this, I wonder,

is my heart and mind, and anything left

hidden in the vast storehouse

of the soul?






So Inclined, by Jennifer Angelina Pedro




So Inclined


Jennifer Angelina Petro



Standing by the gold-flecked stream

watching leaves plucked from the trees

in droves by the wind, one cannot help,

if one is so inclined as to reflect on these things,

but notice how much like death

autumn must be.


Perhaps, when the time is ripe,

and the soul is heavy with longing,

and the great wind comes,

it will pluck my soul and spirit

right from the branches of my body

and cast them into the gold-dappled stream

flowing towards the sea.


It’s strange, isn’t it, that during autumn

the air is crisp, fresh, clarifying;

and the light slants in such a way

as to ignite the trees with joy even

as the trees relinquish themselves

to the letting go.


Harvest me autumn,

for the chlorophyl of hope has drained

from my face and limbs,

and seeped into the ground

to nourish the roots and bones

of those who already gave their all,

collect me in your harvest-hands

and turn my despair into gold.






Considerations, by Jennifer Angelina Petro




Jennifer Angelina Petro


Consider the Spanish word, Sol,

And the English word, soul.

Notice their intimate closeness,

Notice the soul is a little sun giving light

To the entire solar system of the body,

Notice how warmth spreads within you

As you realize you are a part of a universal,

Dancing constellation.


Consider the words, soil, and soul.

Notice their intimate closeness,

Notice the soul’s rich darkness, full of roots

And seeds, forgotten bones and hidden rivers,

Notice how coolness, damp with earth, eases

The weight of carrying so much.