Chase Berggrun
May 31, 2019

As I go mad    I write down        the little things

My mind is made of vague and desperate moments       all unspeakable

I have seen sand shake and shiver at the coming of the tide

I have taken measures to sterilise old sorrow

confined within the limitations of its envelope

So strange     how the despair became relaxed

I struggled hard to keep sight

of what was mine      the memory of that night

A scream     the white-hot fact of it

the overwrought echo of the scream

beautiful       unclean   unclean

I have written this under empty circumstances to attract less attention

my deserted condition produced a cold patient steadying 

a plain conclusion 

at last      I set out to destroy

The erasure poem above is an excerpt from Chase Berggrun’s book R E D (Birds, LLC, 2018), which uses Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a source text. Throughout the book-length poem, Berggrun crafts a new narrative from Stoker’s, rigorously preserving word order and making no additions or alterations to the text. From the introductory note that prefaces R E D: “As the text of Dracula, a classic Victorian-era horror novel soaked with a disdain of femininity and the misogyny of its time, is erased, a new story is told, in which its narrator takes back the agency stolen from her predecessors. This work was written at the same time its author had begun their own gender transition. As they were discovering and attempting to define their own womanhood, the narrator of these poems traveled alongside them.”

Chase Berggrun is a trans woman poet. She is the author of R E D (Birds, LLC, 2018). Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, and elsewhere.