Davenport, Iowa. If you can believe it. Of all the dive bars in all the world, that’s where I
saw my first drag show. I was 19. And there was this queen there —Ginger Snaps.

She was a pointer-sister. She really served up the fantasy.

I said to myself,

that looks like a lot of fucking fun.


It took seven years until I saw her in the mirror.

She’s an instrument I made.

I become her

when I put on her eyelashes.

My body language changes,

my whole posture changes,

an action, a movement, a gesture, a pose.

I don’t want to become a woman. I want to be

a catalyst. Write that down.


You asked earlier, where desire figures for the crowd.

They all want to be changed—their mood,

their night, their rut. Call it escape, or release, the transaction is simple:

when I serve realness, I deliver what is true of a fantasy.

And if you ask me that’s the dregs of any request, whether it’s for a joke or a blowjob—

we don’t want the fantasy exactly, we want that little act of mercy that assures us the fantasy
is real.



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About Justin Engles

Justin Engles
Justin Engles is a poet and fiction writer whose work has appeared in Enizagam, Runaway Parade, Prefix, and Mangrove. He is a recipient of the Fred Shaw Prize for fiction, and he is a graduate of the M.F.A. in Creative Writing Program at the University of Miami. He currently lives in New York, where he teaches special education.