Poetry: Violin with Nipple Grafts by J. Tommy White

In “Violin with Nipple Grafts,” the speaker compares their human body to the configuration of a violin; similarly, the intricacies of their composition are always on display for a skeptical audience.

Violin with Nipple Grafts

The significance of inheriting a

stringed instrument for a ribcage


and fixing to make a bow of

one’s own sure hand. Everything in


the modern manner, which is to say,

ahistorical. Which is to say,


we’re still learning about that.

A white forefather, his lutherie craft—


what sickness of spirit and lung

trickled down with that sound?


In my four-octave voice? In my

word-songs and thoughts like


“first person” and “wound strings”


(wound strings for stitching,

strings left in a wound)


and how do I carry the weight?

Un-marry the men and their


marching orders? Even on the

East Coast where they gave me


a room, so no one would stare

at me shallow breathing, safety pins


closing the post-op vest over my

swelling chest—even on the East


Coast with no fire, no smoke,

we smell it always on the way:


The so many sinking orchestras,

the snap of necks on the sea.


J. Tommy White

J. “TOMMY” WHITE is a multiply disabled, queer, and transgender artist, educator, and researcher who works to facilitate social and systems change. Their poems have been published in MiPOesias' OCHO and E·ratio Poetry Journal, as well as featured in the 2017 audio installation “The Body and Queer Listening” at the Power Plant Gallery in Durham, NC. White studied poetry at Temple University and was a poet-member of the former PhillySound.

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