Stephen Ira



Tony Perkins at the Ice Capades



a paparazzi

You’re looking straight
at me, away from Tab
who’s touching your arm
looking into your long
face, which is sweeter
than my lover’s, sweeter
than any other star
I photograph, sweeter
than the starlets’
flanking you and Tab
on either side. But—oh!
You’re angry with me,
Tony, for trying to see you
and with the studio
for setting up this Ice

Capade against the rumors.
It smudges your face
into sharpness Tab
cannot ease out. Your feet
are up, your hands are on
his arm, you’re saying, “We
are being photographed—”




Tab Hunter

Why didn’t you realize
when we arrived?
I saw the fellow,
and Norma’s enthralled.
She’ll overwhelm the shot
or I will.  I will
not even touch you,
only reach as agents
do and then pull back
or shake, spread fingers
red, extended, “This
son of a bitch, here—”
Would we be sent here
if someone out there
didn’t need to see us
at the Ice Capades together?



Jan Chaney

Follies, actually,
The Ice Follies, Los
Angeles. Off brand
but I adored it.
All night they axelled,
double, triple axelled
in skirts too small to flair.
Their open muscles
reminded me of baseball

and the player Tab
had played before, who
Tony was playing
then. One on TV
and one on the screen.
I barely watched them,
that night or ever.
I knew why I
was there, a privilege
few alive have.
And I didn’t know
that Tab would be mocked
into worklessness soon,
like me, and Tony
lose his beauty.


Norma Moore

The whole time I put my face on he fingered the small of his back. Twice he stopped, to zip me up and to (unusual) take Seconal.  At last I asked. And as if practiced he turned his back and lifted his shirt. I loved its drape. In the last decent place, straight in the landscape’s dip, a little slit.  A coin of glass.  He pulled the lens a little way out. When he saw I was frightened he told me, “Most of us get something installed.”


The Knowers

Time Cube was a personal web page and cult internet phenomenon, founded in 1997 by the self-proclaimed “wisest man on earth”, the late Otis Eugene “Gene” Ray. It outlined a theory of everything. Gene Ray died in 2015, and his domain expired shortly after, but devoted fans have resurrected the site in mirror form.

Time is cubic because it has a front, back, top, bottom, and two sides. I have him the way that I do because the two of you did something different. He did good and bad things because that time was different. He does good and bad things. You and I know something nobody knows. 4 CORNER DAYS, CUBES 4 QUAD EARTH. No 1 Day God. I don’t know about Time Cube because it is useful. I don’t know. I don’t know you.


I walk towards him through water, the first time. I almost turn back, but I put a stop to my putting of stops, and that’s when I run into you. I walk towards him through water. I do it again. And again, and a lot. You do too. This all happened in order. That doesn’t matter. If this were happening in order, it would be over by now.



Belly Button Logic Works. When Does Teenager Die? Adults Eat Teenagers Alive, No Record Of Their Deaths. Did you have any Time Cube tattoos? I think I saw in a picture. “Sex Is Suffering” was one one tattoo I saw. Is sex suffering? This seems important, important to know. You don’t even have ears anymore (like plenty of people) or a tongue (imagine a life with a tongue!) or tattoos. “I’m serious about sex.” I think that’s what “Sex Is Suffering” means. “I might not seem so, but I am.” I was told, actually, you weren’t serious—ever. Seems likely. I’m sorry. I’m desperate and know it and know it.



One person wakes up a desire and gets help from the person who has it. Another one finds the desire. He walks out there as far as he can. One person wakes up a desire, walks away from it for hours, burns to death. In that order. A third person is not a transsexual. At the same time. In order. One person burns to death for no reason except for the world. Indignity of death by unrelated world. What I have avoided. A third person is not a transsexual. Any third person, impossible. One person wakes up a desire. And you have a question, I hope.


Even when the bride’s a stranger, I see all my friends at the trans woman funeral. I see yours—they’re mine too. Time to not foul (already wrong) bible time. I go to tend grief and find mine. “She’d never have gotten on hormones without him, she always said that.” It was like they all said it at once. What he refused to want someone to say. She was always saying it. If we were saying what people should say, and if he weren’t one of the people, he’d want me to say it. I know and I know.


A third person is not a transsexual, another one is with the third on an abandoned beach and loves him and loves him and asks how desire began. And that third kind answers how the third kind always answers—Is it as bad as it feels, though I like it? They always tell the story of their lives. And I was happy then, when he was telling me about you. How did it begin? Maybe a Genius knew Math to achieve my Cubic Wisdom. He isn’t like the rest of them, but he does the things they do. He does them slowly. The eyes of the flounder fish were relocated, why were yours relocated?


Never heard from him about holding your hand or not holding your hand. I heard it from your lover and I held it all day long. Heard and heard it and carried. While I comforted him later, I was carrying. And elsewhere I was on his arm, all over places at so many parties. Sorry. Sorry. In silence, what I carry, I carry on water. Something your lover said when I said mine was sad. I understand. Would I say much, in silence, on water? She would understand what it means. How it’s all that he means. How he’s all that it means, or means, or means.


Do you know Time Cube? I said. And he, naturally, said no. I pulled up the new mirror—the real one is gone. Nothing happened. Well, it either gets you or not. The ONEist educated with their flawed 1 eye perspective. This third person, he tried to actually read it. This is the place within which we wouldn’t say much. And he wouldn’t like it; we’d have that together. When I am good to him is it for you? If it’s true, then it’s useless. I was good to you, in the water. I did try. Is that sad? Do you think that is sad?


I am outside of what you have with him. You are outside of what I have with him. He is outside of what we have together. If it’s true that we have it together. If this very old impulse is real. And what we have together is not what either has with him—we are strangers. What lives between us does because of what we are instead of who. We thought we’d have more time between the water and the words. I am a Knower of 4 corner simultaneous 24 hour Days that occur within a single rotation of Earth.



STEPHEN IRA is a writer and performer. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in FENCE, Poetry, and other venues. He is a co-founder and co-editor of Vetch: A Magazine of Trans Poetry and Poetics. Ira has performed his solo work at venues like La Mama, directed several short plays, and originated roles in new works by Maxe Crandall and Bernadette Mayer. In 2013, he was a Lambda Literary Fellow. He studied poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.