How Do You Be a Boy? by Richelle Lee Slota

How Do You Be a Boy?

I call my older brother Bozo.
He calls me Faggot. At school

I’m hoping to do better for nicknames
like Slaughter, short for Slaughterhouse,

but Tommy Krause decides on Hot Lips,
which I hate, and which confuses me.

Maybe Tommy is only being accurate,
Maybe I am a girl, because,

boy do I have a kisser.
My mother’s friends keep saying,

“Will you look at the mouth on that kid?”
“What a waste on a boy. Heck,

don’t even need lipstick.
I’d kill for those eyelashes.”

“You can have them,” I say.
I suck in my lower lip.

I take scissors to my eyelashes.
How do you be a boy?


On July 17, 1955, Richelle Lee Slota (formerly known as Richard) was one of 200-3rd Graders selected to open Disneyland by running across the drawbridge into Fantasyland. She’s been running into Fantasyland ever since. She has published much poetry, a novel, Stray Son, and, with co-author, Yaw Boateng, the non-fiction, Captive Market: Commercial Kidnapping Stories From Nigeria. She earned BA’s in Psychology and Theatre Arts and a MA in Creative Writing. She serves as a Meter Mentor with Poetry Witch Community, online. She lives in San Francisco.

Leave a Reply