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  • Dysphoria, and: Testosterone
  • S. Isabel Burgess (bio)


From the Greek “hard to bear,” a state of morbid restlessness, uneasiness, want of feeling of well-being. Hence sex dysphoria, discomfort in one’s physical sex.

It sounds like it should be a sort of flower or a vase, as in amphora, the curve of female hips. Dysphoria, as in florid, as in a boy, thirteen, sinking into sluggish bloom. His thighs tug and sway, heavy-brained hydrangea. His throat is stopped with clotted petals. On his hard chest, breasts bud and cluster, wisteria. Ovaries lodge [End Page 80] in his gut, nodular moons, flood his blood. His flesh swells tidal, displaced. Locked in his body, brute vessel, he learns self is incidental. Dysphoria, discord, dislocate, the flesh a flowering cage.


Overrun by small animals, his flesh rustles with chipmunks, shudders like an undergrowth full of bushtits. His nerves tweak with the sex cries of crickets.

His skin opens into heat, a jackrabbit’s ear on fire with listening. A hummingbird hums in his crotch, and something sloths around his tongue, leeches speech from him. His voice grows lichen.

Delicate as pupae, his nipples fatten and poke. In the lips of his cunt, a slug clenches, extends, while in the crook of his pubic bone, a dormouse lusts, wriggles and butts. [End Page 81]

S. Isabel Burgess

S. Isabel Burgess’s work has appeared in the Claremont Review, Grain Magazine, the Malahat Review, and PRISM international.



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pp. 80-81
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