Keagan Wheat

Keagan Wheat

Come to the Table

Self-Portrait in Dream Job

I’m just out of apprenticeship,
old-fashioned clings styrofoam.
Still time for activism in death.
The access of frictive veins,
rigidity of your own box of kleenex,
open simplicity of carpet’s memory.
Travel comes easy, no feeder
from living to bedroom. No more than
ten bodies limiting your grief.
Maybe the welcome fluids of being separate
to seek joining minerals escaping
disparate visuals the nauseating candy
of skin slip, of insect shit.
Take varied care of enumerating options.
Exactly as bad in all ways you expected;
but death still looks like death
not watching for contraction
or jerking warmth.

Posthumous Route

Little rest spot
with some kitsch sign
flagging an entrance.
Pickup anytime
uplift or removal
more available
than some
Trifold colors stair
a display shelf
Widespread recognition
at trashcan entrance
pushing uneasy sheets up.
Two or three
vending machines
of dehydration
or simple snacks.
Do you know
how much work it is
to make something
look pretty;
consistent locating
through embalm calc,
ratio of chemistry
you have to take
seriously, digitized.
Mouth concentration
until you realize
you’re speaking out loud.
Disposition: context of
Ritual. Creaking thin
boards recenter
a warmth without cheer.

2 up 2 over

Cannula forcing a stream-lined process;
pressure adjusted precisely
through three setting;
always questioning materials.
Trocar button filling thread space;
contemporary co-injector
pushing out probability of slip.

Pinch thin dorsal aspect
aiming for firm reality;
cut down mouth former
to shape, not one-size-
fits-all, nothing carries
how you might expect.

Still remains taking shape
likely doesn’t need
too many steps.
You are still allowed time
at this table,
at these nails.

I can’t lose my backup tie

Bleach stains met
with stargazing
misplaced face
I can rearrange.

I’m sorry
there is grass
on my face,
or at least
has cinnamon waft.
Hopefully a jcpenny
sale comes soon;
I need a uniform
to visit
a security guard.

Disposition Reverberates

Does bio matter retain
more than cremains;
a shimmering refraction
meant to make again.
Does final disposition
fragment each day?
Do large gatherings
extend invitations?
Piece might require
degradable package
amplifying some sustenance.

Pathological Heart: See Medical Waste

Propped in crisp air;
the crackle of progress.
Retain a shading difference,

a push and pull along
certain lines. Gain 
texture of mess; often 

too shocking to desire.
Degloving creating
frictive obstacle.

Phone tag griping
weeks with quick pace
fine squeeze.

Disorder consider
the chill of a table
flat for static growth.

We have fewer
barriers to gain
ideal experience

to dispel 
ideal organs

different palliative

If I get to a case and turn away?

No longer enough chirp clicking
through a cavity to sleep a day.
Remove the leaves.
Prolepsis taking steps
as I miss active, oblivious care.
Fresh garden warning
to suture my lungs
and crisp bill to fixate
Terminology blocking me
into deciding who
will mandate repose.

Know Nothing Returns

Pounded bones fragmenting
internal urns; cremains
lingering along 
the dry side of grief.
Plastic flowers crowding stones
as you walk aisles.
No casket or cloth shroud.
They lie ready for notes
and stages of gas;
rigidity comes and goes
as carrion.

Keagan Wheat writes poetry on FTM identity and congenital heart disease. His work appears in Anti-Heroin Chic, The Acentos Review, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, and more. Check out his interviews with Brooklyn Poets and Poets and Muses. Living in Houston, he enjoys collecting odd dinosaur facts and listening to many podcasts. Find him @kwheat09.


Interview with Keagan Wheat

Why poetry?

I chose poetry, because I had a workshop taught by Cait Weiss-Orcutt. In that workshop, I found poetry to be such a varied medium that it felt like it could hold anything.

Who are you currently reading? 

I’m reading Sana Sana by Ariana Brown and The Things We Being with Us by SG Huerta.

What poets have had the most influence on you? 

Meg Day, Oliver Baez Bendorf, and Cait Weiss-Orcutt have really impacted my recent work. They all have pushed my work into new spaces: thinking through disability, trans joy, and play in poetry, repectively.

How long do you usually spend on a single poem? My writing practice varies a lot. Sometimes I write a poem in a day and only spend a couple more hours on revision; others times I am working on the same poem over the course of years.

How do you incorporate play in poetry? 

My play comes through relinquishing the idea of capital P, Poet. I don’t enter a poem thinking I need to say something important or profound; I can write to the people I love or the people I want to love. I can use form for an obstacle course, rather than a rigid structure. I can bend prompts and forms if the poem wants that.

One thing that struck me while reading your work was some of the language referring to medical equipment. There’s also a closeness to death and dying here. It makes me wonder, does this language, this closeness come through your work, or disability, both?

This specific collection focuses on death care, so proximity to death largely comes from the content. But my work often keeps this closeness, which I think comes from living with a congenital heart disease. I was born near death, so it’s always finding its way into my thinking and writing.

In what ways do you feel your poetry has evolved most significantly? 

My poetry has expanded in interest. Previously, I only (and could only) write about my own recent experiences, but now I have more imaginative exploration. I’m writing about death care or weird love poems infused with the X-Files or Courage the Cowardly Dog.

What poem should I read to my daughter for bedtime tonight? Ross Gay’s “Sorrow is Not My Name” is a wonderful bedtime poem; there’s so much joy and looking toward amazement in the piece. Not to mention, Ross Gay is a fantastic writer.