the louderARTS Project

Emily Kagan Trenchard

Emily Kagan Trenchard started performing poetry because she found it the perfect blend of her love for writing and her love for the stage. She competed on the UC Berkeley collegiate slam team (national champions 2001 and 2004), the San Francisco 2001 and 2002 slam teams, and was the coach and slam master of the UC Berkeley slam team from 2001 through 2004. Emily was a part of HBO's Def Poetry Jam seasons 3 and 4 and has been a featured artist and workshop leader at venues across the country including the California Institute for the Arts, the Commonwealth Club, the West Coast Convention for Teachers of English, and the Associated College Unions International Conference. In 2004, Emily graduated from UC Berkeley with an interdisciplinary degree in bio-behavioral science and was honored to have her poetry commissioned for the commencement address to the Class of 2004. In 2005, she received her master's degree from MIT's graduate program in Science Writing. Emily lives with her husband in Brooklyn.




Instructions for Killing the Propper Thing


If, perhaps
It entered at the throat
Punching through a windpipe
And rattling off the vertebrae
Making short work of the slippery spinal chord
It might only take one.
Same for an entry through the heart,
or head, on just about any access,
So long as it bores through
like a hole to China.
Multiple shots to the limbs
Gets messy,
They’ll need to bleed out,
Go into shock before the thing is done.
Better to hit the torso, that basket
of crucial flesh.
Leave the wound unattended,
If it’s a body
And nothing more.

But to kill a black man,
I would argue, depends upon the intention.
Spend a generation of bullets,
If you mean to kill the black from him,
If you are afraid of the dark,
If you spell animal with a lowercase fist
And need his flesh to be
Meat instead of man.
But a single, clumsy stray will always find his skull
If this black man was just out for a smoke.

To kill a woman, shot gun blast
Perhaps to the face,
The stomach,
The parts that hurt you most.
Keep her small and begging
Through the barrel.
The intention, irrelevant.
More important is location.
In her home if she’s the only one for you.
In the woods if she’ll do in the mean time.

It is not the physics
Of the powder or burn,
The hammer’s smack,
The pull of opposing muscles against a knuckle
To curl the finger back,
The bullet has no lip to snarl.
The chamber, no heart to darken.
The gun, no need but time
For hands.
These things are things
Will do like mineral and vegetable
If it were only a body,
The thing would be enough.
But to shoot, to kill

The children are simple;
If left alone, will do it themselves.

To kill a faggot, use your fists
Like a real man.
Put no thing between you and your prayer
No distance from the vein to be pinched off
If you’re going to do it,
Take flesh to muddy flesh
Grow thicker with every cut
Crush each rib like you were god
Harvesting seeds for new children.
Know muscle tear and organ rupture
Like only shrapnel can
Turn a face from bloom to plum to burst fruit
Filled with chips of teeth
If you mean to kill a faggot,
If this body is more than a body,
For God’s sake, get in close like only lovers can
Chew the death from his lips
Let no machine come between you.

© Emily Kagan



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .