Terrible Beauties

To turn on one’s left side, and see the lights
come on as it warms up, and then the right’s
all buzzing into life, and then your eyes
all four of them – the ones of normal size

the one for close work, one for infra-red.
‘Once out of nature’, legless, quadruped,
changed utterly in ways you never thought
into new bodies. And the you that’s caught

In any moment, is the same it seems
as all the different selves we are in dreams
known for illusion, yet unchanging truth.
We always change, glasses or porcelain tooth,

Growing towards some spiral glass or steel
in which still human we would think and feel.


But say we change our mind, edit our soul,
remove all fear. And are we then less whole,
less human, if we take away the pain,
remove bad memories? And are we sane

if we can pluck neurosis like a hair
with tweezers? Is the person standing there
still us, transfigured? Can we still make art
without those spurs and scars? And can our heart

Be broken still? Is love a sweet disease
that we can cure, or harbour, as we please?
A brain that’s housed in silver filigree,
steel titans might still be more kin to me

Than those who flense themselves to bone and will
and sacrifice – who mould themselves to kill.


The nightmare beauty of a hardened heart
that knows its way, and feels it is a part
a cog in God’s inexorable plan
grinding the sinful world – more scary than

some hedonistic aesthete who rewires
their body, wants new senses and desires,
new flavour on the tongue, some musky scent
they’re carved to smell. We never quite resent

Their flight, or mock their fall with melted wings;
Vain, precious hipsters – it’s their pride that brings
electric jewelled strangeness to our lives
and it is their own flesh they cut with knives

Leave ours alone. We cannot say the same
When God’s militias bring us blades and flame


About rozkaveney

Middleaged, trans, novelist, poet, activist
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4 Responses to Terrible Beauties

  1. paratti says:


    Especially that last line.

  2. caprine says:

    Rich and strange. Thank you.

  3. crowleycrow says:

    “still might” rather than “might still” will help the rhythm.

    I don’t think I understand the last couplet. I wonder if it’s yet unfinished.

    But nice, nice.

    • rozkaveney says:

      I tried it that way, but read aloud ‘might still’ has a staccato quality that sounds for me like the right sort of reluctant acceptance of surprising truth that I wanted.

      I think I’m done – I really wasn’t trying to say more than that transhumanists are weird but at worst leave the rest of us alone, while the religious want to change us into themselves, or kill us.

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