Maura, I’ll Trade You My Pseudonym for Your Anonymity by Leia K. Bradley

Jan 22, 2024

Maura, last night you asked me if Flirting With Misandry 

was a good title. I said you should fill a lake with misandry and swim around in it—

that’d be better, why flirt when you can fuck it—

and you laughed in lithe indigos. Like titles were genders

in the making, like our memoirs would be better, oversaturated stand-ins

for our selves.

I picture my poems as sexless understudies in the wings, wearing wings

and jewel tones, purpling toes and foot

notes eager to take my too-bodied place. Maura,

you talk about memoir as terrifying

with your own name beneath any title, and I understand.

Anonymity is a warm wool blanket

to toss over any eye of risk;

we share a fear

of being too known.

What self will I have to invent next

once I’ve sold the last one

to a publisher? Just like any hotel room,

once you drop the dress,

you’ve given yourself away;

you don’t

belong to yourself anymore, if

you ever did.

Once you’re on the museum wall,

the book shelf, the street corner, the artist’s intentions

drop like any pretense in a penthouse,

and the consumer’s eyes,


and what they believe

is all that remains. Ash.

Ash so gray

it’s almost lavender. No,

stop trying to make the despair palatable—

it’s just a cloud, not an oil painting

of a landscape, just

 a sliver of soul

once claiming identity,


Object: Beautiful aorta and carotid on mottled soul, cast in continuous chapter, 2023

—and when the museums and the bookshops are empty, Maura,

when the hotel room trash is emptied,

will the truth inside the art

still follow you home, and

will you even want it to

after you know

you gave it away?

And if you could place your titles

in my palms like violet candles, let the wax burn and drip 

between my fingers, harden 

all anonymous memoirs 

and full-named fears, if you could tease out 

that ugly orgasm face 

contorting with ecstatic honesty— 

would you be surprised if my hurt looked a bit like yours, 

or would you drop the dress 

just to be outside of yourself 

because it’s so practiced it’s just 

more comfortable now; would you make up in velvet 

any excuse 

to say the smile was real— 

even though we both know 

we’ve both sold out our honesty 

years ago— 

Maura, we both know 

we’re too good 

at seeing gray 

and calling it lavender. We both know 

survivor is just another word 

for bad things happened here. 

I look at you and I see every lie I’ve ever told 

just to convince myself I am miserable that 

I’m not like everyone else, that I just 


more—Maura I’m kissing 

your palms in the purple light 

and dancing 

in your knowing eye’s 

trap door.

Leia K. Bradley (they/she) is a backwoods Georgia-born, Brooklyn-based lesbian writer and performance artist, editor at Moot Point Magazine, and an MFA Poetry candidate at Columbia University, where she was also awarded the Undergraduate Writing Teaching Fellowship for 2023–24. She has work in Poetry Project, Aurore, Peach Fuzz, Wrongdoing Magazine, Ghost City Press, Tarot Literary, Versification, JMWW, Wild Greens, trampset, Miniskirt Magazine, Full House Literary, All Existing, and more, with her poem “Settle(d)” chosen as the Editor’s Choice Best Overall pick for Penumbra Magazine’s 2022 Pride issue. She is also the Featured Author for Anodyne Magazine for 2023. She can be found dancing through candlelit speakeasies or climbing barefoot up a magnolia tree with a tattered copy of Stone Butch Blues tucked into her dress. After climbing out from the coffin of her first divorce, she is accepting love and lust letters by handwritten snail mail.

X: @LeiaKBradley IG: @madamemort

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