"Dirty Beautiful Words": Poetry by Trans Artist Brooklyn Brayl

Brooklyn Brayl

Editor's Note: Brooklyn Brayl is a trans, New York-based poet whose debut collection, Dirty Beautiful Words, was released late last year. Her raw poems deal with finding herself as a trans feminine person, reckoning with the violence (domestic & public) that can face trans women, and the fluctuations of gender identities.

Brooklyn and her book were recently profiled by Out magazine. Afterwards, Brooklyn nuanced her interview on social media, saying, "While I'm beyond ecstatic and appreciative of any support from anyone ... let alone a big magazine like Out, I wanted to clarify that I am still very much in flux and in process, something that I'm not sure comes across in this article. The truth is, I have yet to figure out my peace, which is why I wrote the book in the first place."

Brooklyn's work is painfully honest and self-searching. It's thrilling to watch this young trans artist bloom into her complex themes as she blooms into her complex gender.

Below, Brooklyn offers a poem about her work, as well as a short film accompanying her poem "Bones." (*Trigger Warning: domestic, physical violence*). - Mitch Kellaway, Editor of "What's on Our Minds Today?"


A Transgender Coming-Out Story Told In Visual Poetry

by Brooklyn Brayl


Dirty Beautiful Words is my coming-out story in artistic format. It’s the wrestling between the binary world in which we live – the boy in which I was born and the girl I would like to become. 

However, like gender identity, it’s complex, and I’m still sorting it out. 

What labels fit, what labels do not and how to be present at this exact moment in my body and in my questioning and in this step in the process of coming to terms with my identity. 

Is transitioning even entirely right for me? 

Does it make me any less of a transgender identity if I do not meander to the other side completely? 

Do I have the courage to show the world who I really am? 

Who am I really? 

All I know is that my gender has never totally felt perfectly aligned and this book is me being honest about that. It’s the fight between who I am and who I want to be.




from Dirty Beautiful Words by Brooklyn Brayl

*Trigger Warning: Domestic, physical violence*


Mascara bruises porcelain 

Like spilled ink 

Careening over her jawline 

Soaking her body wet 

Beads of pearls 

Drop from her chest

Hitting bathroom tile

Her backbone slivers down the wall

Head landing upon kneecaps

She remembers the time 

She first felt 


She was twelve years old

Braces on her teeth,

And battle scars on her feet

Her daddy's hand 

Never touched her pretty face

Never told her she could change the world

Never saw her spin in ballet slippers

Tonight's not unusual

She's grown up to be 

This tragic enigma

Insecure in her skin

Longing for a love

That will love her for her

Stripped of make-up

And not how she feats in jeans

Jeans she vomits to belong to.

Her mind's a blur

Floating inside 

Champagne bubbles and cigarette smoke

Celebrating the naked truth

The truth that her life's 

A never-ending black circle

Buried deep 

In her bones

Like a paper cut 


Photos courtesy of Brooklyn Brayl.