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THE HOLY THEATRE by A. Tony Jerome

after Kiki Petrosino

Everything is a horcrux if you sing hard enough. I whisper

the empty, I could’ve rescued myself. Not just from Carrie cuts but vibrato too if I had opened the office door sooner. I can be

honest here. I owe apologies but no one checks

the post office when you’re famous. I’m terrified all the time because it’s in the director’s notes. I slow dance with broken streetlights and our haunting

sounds like I’m stepping on your toes. I can be

honest now. I sing the truth in my sleep. All the you are for lovings get caught in my teeth. There’s blood on my pillow

and stained in the sheets. Yesterday I let the truth bubble up and slit my throat. Today, my claws unhinge my trap,

razors flood out. Here, heal means hurt, Here, one thing believes it’s another. Like love and damnation or

your belt voice and better. I can say this now. I smear my blood

in the audience’s eye’s and

demand. I hum the tune and Babs sings it back over my choking. The curtain nevers.

the applause recoils but as they say, I must go on. Spring forgets its lines and

winter steps on as understudy. Spookchill gets the best of me and is worse

than before. Scared blinds me so bad I don’t see red: I become it.


What does the title, “Emerging poet,” mean to you?

Emerging poet makes me think of that one episode where the person is getting paid to sleep on a mattress in a storefront and at first, no one really notices because it's just a storefront/it's probably for publicity/etc. But then, one person decides they need to know more about them, and so they stick around to figure out what they'll do next. They start to wonder why they chose to do this, what makes them tick, what will they come up with in the space they're given? To me, emerging poets have been doing work, living, but now someone's decided to stop in front of the store window and look in.

Do you consider yourself an “emerging” poet? Why or why not?

I consider myself an emerging poet because I do feel like more eyes are on me. I'm more conscious of my art and where I am in my literary community.

What do you think it takes to be “recognized” in the poetry community?

I think it depends. Bad news travels fastest, so whenever a poet does something really nefarious (my sister's new favorite word), then I think they tend to be known faster, but that's more notoriety than recognition. I guess it just takes the right person getting excited about your work and sharing it. It all feels very up in the air to me.

How do you think power politics shape the poetry community?

Power politics shape the poetry community cause power politics shape everything. The poets I learned about growing up were overwhelming white and straight and cis and that introduction into poetry kept me from hoping to get much from it. I think power politics tries to elevate anything that mirrors them and keep important voices that it refuses to recognize as human and necessary, contained, and makes a painful bloody mess of things when it can't.

What does community mean to you?

Community means showing up for others the way they show up for you, so community is family. It's having people in your corner and being in theirs. Supporting each other through every rejection and celebrating every acceptance and calling each other out with love when we fuck up so that we can be better.


A. TONY JEROME is black & nonbinary & creating. They help out with 365daysoflesbians, Winter Tangerine, and Autostraddle. In the past, they've worked with Monstering, Self Care After Rape, Tandem Reader Awards, and Voicemail Poems. They are a 2015 Pink Door Fellow & 2016 LAMBDA Literary Emerging Writer Fellow. You can find their work at and support them on Patreon.


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