Popshot Magazine

Illustration by Meital Shushan


This poem by James McDermott explores how families teach us gender, sexuality and shame. Illustration by Meital Shushan.

I lie on the floor of the living room

in my family home to play with my

two year old niece who calls my father nan


dad my sixty year old father calls her

princess i’m five when father calls me sis

sy for wearing wellies on the wrong feet


father puts her in a pink dress the hu

man eye can distinguish ten million dif

ferent colours father teaches her not


to colour outside the lines humans are

the only animals who can draw straight

lines father taught me how to draw stick men


in black and blue their heads empty white space

three point five billion different men are

alive suicide race hate their biggest


killers father reads my niece a fairy

story which ends happy when the boy gets

the passive girl I’m ten when father calls me


a fairy for wanting to be snow white

there are 450 species

of animal that show signs of queerness


only 1 species is homophobic

I read my phone in the UK women

make up 22% of the boys


in blue I was stopped searched for being dressed

as a woman 86% have

been assaulted I was punched for being


my niece rips off her dress tears up the book

leaves her dressing up box for my father’s

tool box takes his hammer to redraw him


This poem appeared in The Family Issue of Popshot Quarterly. On sale now.

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