Peter Scalpello

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the poet

 Queer poet and sexual health therapist Peter Scalpello hails from Glasgow. Their work has been published internationally, and their debut collection, Limbic, will be published by Cipher Press in 2022.

the poems

when i was in two
bodies, halved

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                                           insisting on life i dressed

                                           myselves up, like a wound


              as a bigger me, older & more engendered

                                         than i am even now

                            though, then, i of course

                                    defied age & sex


            my father’s masculine was anger

              i first gauged as urges indulged


                                    to etch, as caveperson

                                               the letter  S  with

                           a (nondescript) wrench, made up

                                        of roughened integers so


                           erasure shaped our liminal space

                    & the inside of his testicles read sis


                                                          let’s say the impulse

                                                            to deface already had

                                                        infinite rotational symmetry

                                              it seems to surface in me today


                    screaming on regent street

                at the injustices of the world


            my mother’s feminine was doubt

            i sensed in her primary colours

              & her venus, which is the name

                 of a razor i took to both eyebrows

                        though barely there & now

                           vanished, replaced them with


                                                                love hearts; sky, sun, wine

                                                   but the security, i could literally inhale

                                        it! i was untarnished & fine

                                 & when i looked back up i was already


                            here

                                                    when i was two people, doubled


                  everything served

                                                                     disappeared down

             my throat until the suburbs

                                           brought it all back up again


             with seven pints of revelation

                                    to ingest the suede shoes


                        & the unwell man you see all the time

                                                                                    is you

                                both cells unmarried & yet

                                                     a replication, as healing


                         means to be repeatedly broken over again

                                                                                          when

                                       fingertips were viscous


                    & not-yet yellowed, the matter of us

                                            tasted so gorgeous—

          are you coming with me, or just

                                                                                      merely going


      begin again

                                                                                             when i was in two

Shetland

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                       at the tideline the surfacing sun
                       overwhelms the horizon
                       like an ingrown hair and a fish
                       -erwoman i bothered proposes
                       that the mackerel here thrive because
                       when they see the scenery they’re compelled
                       to make love
                       it reminds me
                       of a couple i’ve recently been
                       spending time with
                       who met at the memorial of a friend
                       in ’86
                       a generation removed
                       my thumb taps on chests of dads
                       to replace my own and
                       assigned-at-birth flesh shapes
                       that make the gulls above scream
                       with laughter over the indelicacy
                       of human orogeny
                       how one-dimensional
                       the race for intervention of an all-out
                       stranger must seem from up there—
                       my handheld dreamland
                       the realistic sea beneath us
                       winking

Devil Works

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                       In the reptilian squish of this
                       horned skull, the faggotry
                       I once neglected and tangential
                       victimhood I again entertain
                       coexist, distinct
                       but sensorially linked.
                       Science!
                       Had I further bulldozed both,
                       I could’ve
                       been the gayest construction
                       worker you ever laid
                       eyes on, all YMCA-looking
                       and mid-breakdown.
                       At any rate, I’ve landed
                       on an alternate form of mimicry,
                       evangelism. Decked out
                       like the bent great-grandson of Lucifer,
                       crimson cherub in PVC
                       and knee-highs, divorced
                       from a creator I was groomed
                       to love or be in love with.
                       Source of an endless eye-roll
                       on behalf of the street preacher,
                       his camp little megaphone
                       calling for my eternal incineration.
                       Religion!
                       Were I devilish enough,
                       I’d mince upon its unorthodox pedestal,
                       sibilanting archaic
                       love and radical acceptance: praise
                       the idiosyncrasy, a blessing!

                       The only kindling in hetero-sight
                       graced by the foil of a nation
                       ’s communal pipe, held safe
                       by something at least.
                       I had the fire
                       stomped out of me an eternity ago,
                       it wasn’t even biblicised.
                       Like our survival,
                       faith is leaving a pleasure
                       path doused in question marks,
                       theology and natural order inter
                       secting with prophetic desire.
                       The devil works hard, but
                       queers work harder.

Publishing credits

when i was in two bodies, halved: Consilience (Issue 2)

Shetland: The Selkie

Devil Works: In The Past The Future Was Better (Cipher Press)