Colette Arrand


“Leaving nothing in the shade, each action discards all parasitic meanings and     ceremonially offers to the public a pure and full signification, rounded like     nature.” – Roland Barthes, “The World of Wrestling”

My mother says that she hasn’t adjusted
because she has no evidence of my womanhood.
My voice is still her son’s voice, my body,
however changed, is one she still pictures
as masculine. When the Freebirds blinded
Junkyard Dog with a handful of hair cream,
they prevented him from witnessing the birth
of his daughter. He required no proof;
she was born and he missed it, had to learn
the contour of his daughter’s face later,
when his vision returned and he got
his revenge. I understand disbelief, the idea
that a person is so indelibly that person
that they cannot change, but as the subject
of that change I’m unable to supply proof.
Hardly wanting to seem foolish, wrestling fans
hold up the time Roland Barthes went
to the matches as proof that there’s a kind
of art at work grander than the illusion
of contact. Where Barthes saw a narrative
simplification of the challenges faced
by the audience, the shook fan purchases
a kind of respect via betrayal—wrestling,
praised by a theorist, has no room
for its audience. To what standard
I’m meant to hold my entertainment
or myself to is never clear. Am I real
because I present myself as real,
or because another person recognizes
me as such? With enough study
you can learn the way a wrestler
plays to the crowd, the same way
you can learn how a woman walks
or sits or speaks. I’ve put these things
into practice, but I can’t convince
anybody and I’m not sure I ever will.
There’s a fan crying out for her favorite,
but the Junkyard Dog leaves the arena
on a stretcher. What happens next
depends on what you believe and why,
what you’re given and the proof you require.



"Hey A.D., which way is the wind blowing today, brother? Have you taken a walk on the wild side in awhile?” – Hulk Hogan, 1986

In the midst of an epidemic you emerge
from your closet, trade in your leathers

for silk scarves as if one could make you
more or less of a queen. When you die,

it is not because of your blood; you go
in a car wreck, bereaved by your wife

and remembered by a journalist
as a brawler on the verge of rehabilitation,

a wrestler ruined by his culture’s need
for someone to play the fag. Adrian,

for a week I felt called out by a series
of photographs of gay men and the clothing

they wear: denim jacket, denim jeans, flannel
button-up, and a pair of Converse: Basic Gay. 

Thumb dug into a beltloop and back against
the wall, I guess he’s what you’d call

vanilla, but that’s how a gimmick functions
in the real world, like a secret language

nobody teaches but all the right people know. 
When you speak, I hear a man pretending

to know desire. You kiss a man and he faints,
but you’re only trying to win a match.

In the locker room your makeup runs
in the shower like blood from a wound,

but not everything that you scrub will come
clean. I can read the marks you bear, speak

the shame you know but can’t articulate.
Like you, I approach men looking to be made

whole in their embrace. I can read these marks
to you as well. In fact, we share them.

Colette Arrand is a transsexual poet from Detroit, Michigan. She is the author of Hold Me Gorilla Monsoon and the founding editor of The Wanderer.
Mark Cugini