Two Poems

Kayleb Rae Candrilli


Poem in which two trans boys take their first marital dance in the water


To see the ocean through 

the shark’s gills you must 


have put yourself in his mouth. 

This is not victim blaming, but instead


an admittance of kink. The ocean

is not your home, and to be eaten


there fulfills many dark hungers. The way

a gill opens to both succumb


and to breathe is so vaginal, isn’t it?

At night, my partner checks my glands


to assess my health and my readiness

to inhale water. Finally, I am ready


to become what I wasn’t.







On the benefits of learning by example


I’m always writing about heavy things: headstones, 

fathers, a feather painted with blood. Below the equator 


bats are boiling in the night sky. I know this is the product 

of global heat, humans, but all I remember is my father 


taking bat after bat from the night sky with a BB gun. 

The first thing I ever learned is that it’s not hard 


to kill. He held them together,

dead in his hands and rolling like tiny red plums. 


When I fall in love with my partner it’s as fast 

as a downed bird, smooth and in 

                                                    a tail spin. 


Our queer bodies are not meant to live

together, in such blood red 


harmony. But some sins are more sinful than others. 

Sodom and Grace are all wrapped up 


in the backwoods and yes, I will always be loving 

my partner just like this—soft 


and dusted in Pennsylvania dirt. As far 

as I walk from my roots, they grow to reach—


and that teaches me everything 

I need to know about being good. 


KAYLEB RAE CANDRILLI is author of What Runs Over with YesYes Books. They serve as an assistant poetry editor for BOAAT Press and live in Philadelphia with their partner. You can read more here.