Two Poems by Mayhem Seraji

The Hero of the Gender Circus (video)


Gender {omitted}

Each day, I lather myself

in the man that I never asked to be.

Each day

I rub into my skin until it’s sore

with the pheromone that only those who

don’t “naturally” produce testosterone

(and who lust after those who do)

can smell.

I douse myself in the overwhelming scent

to rid me of the menstrual cycle

that I also

never asked for.

Every day I pray

rid me of the pain of bloodstains

trom battles that I gave up fighting

long ago.

A body doesn't know

to stop kicking itself

when it is already down.

The body doesn't know

when you are shutting down your liver


or, opening your skin

using pain to relieve


I remember the faces of women

who cross the street to get away

from the image of the man

that I am trapped in.

I would cross out of my way, too.

With each day that passes

and I develop my father’s jawline

I wince

because no one ever taught me how to shave.

I learned quick to brave the waves

that each storm gave.

A storm of razor blades

death by a million little cuts

across my cheeks and throat

drawing the blood of the covenant

the one I made to myself

which runs thicker than the water

of the womb.

When I made the deal to disappear

and run away from home

my body died.

That’s why they call it a

“dead name”.

That person never began to exist

and I still don’t; that’s the sick twist.

That’s another drop of blood running down my wrist/

my beating heart in my closed fist.

And if you thought you shot me down, well,

you missed.

Cease and desist

I paid men to chop me up and sew me back together.

What are a few scars across my chest

but a few days of bad weather?

Just need some stitches to sew me back together

and make me good as new.

At least, from the bird’s eye view?

The stars cannot see me down here.

Floundering in an ocean of deities

that we are all carved out of;

time and space,

thinly veiled realities.

The tallest mountain

has no idea about my old name

or from whence I became.

The canyons don’t care

if I have facial hair.

The wind doesn’t prick her hand

as she washes over my face

the stubble on my cheeks

that grows unruly each year

the wild untamable beast

that seeps out of me

Because someone said once

That the man that turns himself into a beast

Is relieved from the pain of being man

But all my pain came from men

so i hid myself in one of them

but now, no one can find me here.

The pain inflicted by other men

now shrouds me

an opaque shadow that i cannot shake

The pain i tried so desperately to escape

now grows out of my face.

But in my dreams, I am alive.

I am tucked snugly in the blanket of moonlight

when all shadows quietly stand guard.

When I open my eyes, I have

pieces of paper in exchange

for “safely” crossing imaginary lines:

borders, airport security, etc.

and all my passages away from here.

Now can I use a public bathroom without fear?

I still don’t steer near police

in case they release

the weapons in their pants that

I will never wield.

My smooth talk is my only shield

in protecting the scars that haven’t healed

all the blood that’s still congealed

like a fruit that’s been peeled.

But in my heart I’m

forever running through an open field.

I’ve been out gunned since

my mother’s womb came undone around me.

I’m bound to be undoubtedly

a crowned thief

drowned in my

diaspora brown grief.

Ground up in some green kief

to put me down, sound asleep.

I mean, that was my first relief.

Or, it was, before

the earth opened up from


Most nights, I

can’t see through this mask

the one the world fastened to me.

My past is still new to me

black and blue, bleeding free

and smoke feeding me.

i can watch from above

as my hands remove gloves.

While one eye watches

as another one remains unloved.

There is a subtle ghost of memory

hidden down beneath my feet

where everything melts between

the molten rock and

velvet grass of green.

I happen to feel the shifting tectonic plates

in both directions of time and space

and all but one draw lines on my face

and that is the iridescent hand of grace.


Maysam “Mayhem” Seraji (they/them pronouns) is a up-and-coming poet making their way into the Syracuse, NY slam scene. Never having taken a formal poetry writing class, they consider themself “self taught”, and has been writing for as long as they can remember being able to hold pen to paper. Friends have playfully dubbed them “Mayhem” due to their chaotic energy and brimming passion. Mayhem is nonbinary, transgender, and Iranian-American who hopes to carry the legacy of Persian poetry into the present, to imagine a new future.