“The Parade is a searing and brilliant poem examining both the timeliness and timelessness of its subject matter. Here, the speaker presents us with anti-trans violence, an act so normalized and “unremarkable” a brutal moment of agreement is made: the hushed fists of soccer dads / pulped my lips, tugged my / breasts like rotten treasures. / It scares me too, sometimes, / this body. The beauty of this poem is how it resists the urge to pull punches, placing its readers in a position beyond that of witness: if this is what I must endure, you must help me endure it. Help me gather the teeth, confettied against the glinting pipes. Help me see the dead flies / mottled / a swarm of distant, dark balloons. Do not be mistaken – this is no sad resignation but, instead, the blood-holy howl of a body refusing to be shaped by its enemies.” – 2017 Poetry Judge Rachel McKibbens


Noah Baldino

2017 Contest: Poetry Runner-up


Am I grateful? They let me live
            here as long as I stay quiet, wear
my penis only in the private of my own room,

            their bodies automatic. Their violence, too
announced. Once, in the brutal din
            of a holiday parade, I said my new name

out loud. All of Herald Square cheered then,
             but that very night, against a bathroom stall’s
bright muck, the hushed fists of four men

          found me. White sneakers. Light-washed, belted
jeans. A paler strip around the bald one’s finger
              where a ring used to be—one spun me quick

against the row of sinks. Another tugged
             my breasts, two rotten treasures.
It scares me too, sometimes,

              this body. Each day I wake to find
my jaw stippled with new hairs, and heavier
             registers heaped in my throat.

It’s all so unremarkable
           they want to keep me from it—the terror
of having a body and knowing it

            means so little. It’s true, I did feel lucky, then,
that when my teeth finally ticker-taped
            against the glinting silver pipes we went

silent, the stall door swinging open, then shut,
            quick as applause. They took all
my clothes. When they emptied my wallet,

          they said my given name, a sneer. I remember
how still I felt then, as I tongued
            my split lip. I looked up at

the ceiling, the fluorescent light
           filled with dead flies, mottled,
a swarm of distant, dark balloons.


Noah Baldino’s poems and reviews can be found or found soon in Poetry, Indiana Review, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. They currently live in Indiana.