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Poetry

From “Twenty-Five Thousand Miles of Nerves”

By Nino Mick
Translated from Swedish by Christian Gullette
Spoken Word poet Nino Mick skewers the absurdity of bureaucracy in matters of gender and identity. 

First visit.

 

I’m here because I want to be left alone

 

Gender Survey:

 

In order to proceed, I need access to
your body i.e. brain
your life i.e. sex life
your medical history
your stories

 

Second visit.

 

Have I completed a gender survey so I can cope with being a poet
or am I a poet in order to cope with the gender survey
so used to narrating myself
in exchange for fees and care

The glossy floors and the large window
upon arrival I leave
my name and agency at the reception
I want to talk about my complex and people want to describe me as respectable
to line up the words on the table in front of the psychologist
so we can look at them and pretend we’re equal


A gatekeeper may deny access
a sword can burn against the throat
can still be called angel
fear’s throbbing anatomy
the throat artery’s defiant disposition
highlights a sample of beautiful truths

the same obedience as usual

the same hands folded in my lap

 

Third visit.

 

Gender Survey:
Describe your social situation

 

Saw a snake in the woods today
winding across the gravel on its stomach
as if it didn’t hurt
and every obstacle it met on the way

it slid right around

Imagine if my body could help me like that


Fourth visit

 

I cancel

 

I have reconstructed everything
the boy the girl and the autistic one
documented the fatigue and depression

With the diagnosis as a veil a shield I slid through the corridors.
In the middle of puberty, I escaped sexuality

got out of girl parties and boyhood problems
got out of punishment and ostracism
stopped learning from the group
how women apply makeup to put on a face


The group of girls I tried to belong to
didn’t work out and lost interest
the punishments ricocheted against the mirrors
newly awakened, I cut myself on the shards
without a clear direction or sender

So the girl was kept intact
floated across the school yard, slid through
high school corridors
rape cultures
mostly without a scratch

Women were formed there
I understand now, as protection and strategy
formed groups there
dancing in a circle around activist tote bags
they became women
I did not become a body


The Publisher

 

It needs a more structured wholeness

 

I want to reside in the hard and permanent
so I construct a suite of poems and a man to live inside
I want to be pinned down securely
to be normalized and become part of the dictionary
assigned a home
to leave

Scenes flow together
public libraries and pride festivals
small town train stations
press photo and description max 50 words
Twenty-five thousand miles of nerves
I choose the reddest one
pull it out through my throat and set it on stage
my life is three minutes long
they say perfect ten
I’m trying to boil
down to my essence
become a concentrate
of my own existence
then it’s called politics

 

Tried to throw out my inner baby Jesus with the bath water
but it held firm inside the lines, screaming and screaming
of course I want nothing more than to fish for Christian Democrats

lure with a little hook of poetry
this body is so useful as bait

People came to me to confess
their heteronormative sins, I said
here, eat my body
I am a worm
and you will be fished up
you will be saved
you will be good
but why do I long for heaven
when I like it best in the flower’s moist soil


Tjugofemtusen kilometer nervtrådar © Nino Mick. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Christian Gullette. All rights reserved.

English Swedish

First visit.

 

I’m here because I want to be left alone

 

Gender Survey:

 

In order to proceed, I need access to
your body i.e. brain
your life i.e. sex life
your medical history
your stories

 

Second visit.

 

Have I completed a gender survey so I can cope with being a poet
or am I a poet in order to cope with the gender survey
so used to narrating myself
in exchange for fees and care

The glossy floors and the large window
upon arrival I leave
my name and agency at the reception
I want to talk about my complex and people want to describe me as respectable
to line up the words on the table in front of the psychologist
so we can look at them and pretend we’re equal


A gatekeeper may deny access
a sword can burn against the throat
can still be called angel
fear’s throbbing anatomy
the throat artery’s defiant disposition
highlights a sample of beautiful truths

the same obedience as usual

the same hands folded in my lap

 

Third visit.

 

Gender Survey:
Describe your social situation

 

Saw a snake in the woods today
winding across the gravel on its stomach
as if it didn’t hurt
and every obstacle it met on the way

it slid right around

Imagine if my body could help me like that


Fourth visit

 

I cancel

 

I have reconstructed everything
the boy the girl and the autistic one
documented the fatigue and depression

With the diagnosis as a veil a shield I slid through the corridors.
In the middle of puberty, I escaped sexuality

got out of girl parties and boyhood problems
got out of punishment and ostracism
stopped learning from the group
how women apply makeup to put on a face


The group of girls I tried to belong to
didn’t work out and lost interest
the punishments ricocheted against the mirrors
newly awakened, I cut myself on the shards
without a clear direction or sender

So the girl was kept intact
floated across the school yard, slid through
high school corridors
rape cultures
mostly without a scratch

Women were formed there
I understand now, as protection and strategy
formed groups there
dancing in a circle around activist tote bags
they became women
I did not become a body


The Publisher

 

It needs a more structured wholeness

 

I want to reside in the hard and permanent
so I construct a suite of poems and a man to live inside
I want to be pinned down securely
to be normalized and become part of the dictionary
assigned a home
to leave

Scenes flow together
public libraries and pride festivals
small town train stations
press photo and description max 50 words
Twenty-five thousand miles of nerves
I choose the reddest one
pull it out through my throat and set it on stage
my life is three minutes long
they say perfect ten
I’m trying to boil
down to my essence
become a concentrate
of my own existence
then it’s called politics

 

Tried to throw out my inner baby Jesus with the bath water
but it held firm inside the lines, screaming and screaming
of course I want nothing more than to fish for Christian Democrats

lure with a little hook of poetry
this body is so useful as bait

People came to me to confess
their heteronormative sins, I said
here, eat my body
I am a worm
and you will be fished up
you will be saved
you will be good
but why do I long for heaven
when I like it best in the flower’s moist soil


Tjugofemtusen kilometer nervtrådar © Nino Mick. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Christian Gullette. All rights reserved.

Första besöket.

 

Jag är här för att jag vill bli lämnad ifred

Könsutredningen:

 

För att det ska ske behöver jag tillgång till
din kropp inkl hjärna
ditt liv inkl sexliv
din medicinska historia
dina berättelser

Andra besöket.

 

Söker jag till könsutredningen för att klara att vara poet
eller är jag poet för att klara könsutredningen
så van att berätta mig själv
i utbyte mot arvode och vård

Blankgolven och det stora fönstret
vid ankomst lämnar jag
namn och agens i receptionen
jag vill berätta mig komplex och människa vill berätta mig respektabel
radar upp orden på bordet framför psykologen
så vi kan titta på dom och låtsas jämlikhet

En grindvakt kan neka tillträde
ett svärd kan brinna mot halsen
kan ändå kallas ängel
rädslans dunkande anatomi
halsåderns trotsiga läggning
framhäver ett urval av vackra sanningar
samma lydnad som vanligt
i knäet samma knäppta händer

Tredje besöket.

 

Könsutredningen:
Beskriv din sociala situation

Jag såg en orm idag i skogen
ringlande på magen över gruset
som om inget gjorde ont
och varje motstånd den mötte på vägen
gled den bara runt

Tänk om min kropp kunde hjälpa mig så där

Fjärde besöket

 

ställer jag in

Jag har efterkonstruerat allt
pojken flickan och autisten
men utmattningsdepressionen har jag papper på

Med diagnosen som en slöja ett skydd skred jag genom korridorerna
mitt i puberteten slapp jag könet
slapp tjejfester och pojkproblem
slapp bestraffningar och utfrysning
slapp lära mig av gruppen
hur kvinnor målas fram i ansiktet

Flickgängen jag försökte tillhöra
misslyckades och tappade intresse
bestraffningarna rikoschetterade mot speglarna
yrvaken skar jag mig på splittret
utan tydlig riktning eller avsändare

Så behölls flickan intakt
svävade över skolgården, skred genom
högstadiekorridorerna
våldtäktskulturerna
knappt kantstött

Kvinnor formades där
förstår jag nu, som skydd och strategi
formade grupper där
dansar i en cirkel runt FATTA!-tygpåsarna
dom blev kvinnor
jag blev inte kropp

Förlaget:

 

Det krävs en mer konstruerad helhet

Jag vill vistas i det hårda och beständiga
därför konstruerar jag en diktsvit och en man att bo i
jag vill naglas fast
normeras och bli del av ordlistan
tilldelas ett hem
att lämna

Scener flyter samman
folkbibliotek och pridefestivaler
småorternas tågstationer
pressbild och beskrivning på max 50 ord

Tjugofemtusen kilometer nervtrådar
jag väljer den rödaste
drar fram den ur halsen och lägger den på scen
mitt liv är tre minuter långt
dom säger tio komma noll
jag försöker koka
ner till min essens
bli ett koncentrat
av min egen existens
sen kallas det för politik

Försökte kasta ut mitt inre Jesusbarn med badvattnet
men det höll sig liksom kvar i kanten och skrek och skrek
jag vill ju inget hellre än att fiska kristdemokrater
vifta med en liten krok av poesi
den här kroppen är så användbar att agna med

Människor kom fram till mig för att bekänna
sina heteronormativa synder, jag sa
här, ät min kropp
jag är en mask
och du ska fiskas upp
du ska bli frälst
du ska bli god
men varför längtar jag till himlen
när jag trivs bäst i fuktig blomsterjord

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