Transmigration | Justin Groppuso-Cook

2 mins read

I bore the badlands, burned my birth certificate in a sweat of cedar. Shed light 
upon the burial. So obsessed with stars I toiled with the earth, knowing

nothing of the sacred, where or what I even was. Chemical reactions 
broke me down like sugar, broke me down to the protein.

As if a mirage lifting I left, lost—

not belonging, a freedom.

For the last time I held my body 
like a prayer. 

Let it scatter as soil

turned with the winds. Seasons

processed this raw material like seed, grain, mahíz. Dunes 
glistened with the gloss
of my irises. Peyōtl menstruated; Yēšūa trees rose 

from the stained glass desert, limbs throwing clay that baked in white heat,
that peeled like my dead skin, nutrient-rich.

I purged with pollen, heaving the distant birdsong. Spat blood 
& milkweed, welcoming monarchs home. 

Home, as in: the crescent of my foot, my breast a temple. 

Mist grafted names to petroglyphs. Nebulas sat across the hoodoos
& wept lucidity: an oasis where pronghorns gathered, 
swarm of locusts swelling in my lungs.

Justin Groppuso-Cook is a poet, musician, and healing artist from Detroit, Michigan. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets, Chicago Quarterly Review, Witness, American Literary Review, The Pinch, and Masculinity: an anthology of modern voices published by Broken Sleep Books. His manuscript, Illuminated Pupils, has been a semi-finalist for the Black River Chapbook Competition and Tomaž Šalamun Prize. He is a writer-in-residence at InsideOut Literary Arts Project and poetry reader for West Trade Review. More information can be found on his website: