by Emrys Donaldson

Susan Sontag led me to sodomy. When I read her work, I considered how my early art experiences were incantatory, magical; art was an instrument of ritual.i The moment when I started in surprise at the shade of gray used in a painting at the Fleming Museum because of its uncanny mimesis of the color of snow at dusk. When I expected the marble Louise Bourgeois sculptures at the Guggenheim to burst like acne. Early engagement with art demanded total focus, an erotics of experience, an incantatory magic.
      The acts of giving and receiving anal penetration allow me to enter a soft, vulnerable emotional space. As the most intimate forms of sexual activity, they protect me from abandonment and, through delicious perversion, allow me to reclaim the trauma of nonconsensual sodomy. By connecting the speaking and waste surfaces of my body, receiving anal turns my fleshy human form inside out. The sexual energy generated by anal between one, two, or more bodies transcends everyday reality. Lit up, I am incandescent with joy.


  1. Queue Prince’s album “Dirty Mind” through cellphone speakers.
  2. Layer two incontinence pads.
  3. Generate sparks when bodies touch.
  4. Lubricate one (1) anus or two (2) anuses or more anuses.
  5. Whisper to each other. Tell each other every desire. Shiver with joy at the response.
  6. Ask or be asked if inserting a finger is okay.
  7. Insert a finger up to the second knuckle, then another finger. A gentle stretch.
  8. Withdraw the fingers. Take at least ten seconds.
  9. Insert a butt plug into yourself or someone else. Watch it disappear. Marvel. Be jeweled.
  10. Expand.
  11. Incant how good it feels to stretch or be stretched.


I desire total closeness, a guarantee of intimacy. Abandonment invokes a mortal terror. Lovers will stay close, I convince myself, if I love and am loved enough. If I am myself enough. With the butt plug inserted, I am hugged from both inside and outside of my body. I realize only when I enjoy the pleasure of stretching and being stretched how often emptiness goes unobserved. I wonder how much fullness will feel like a guarantee of presence—is it anything in my ass? Is it my lover’s cock in my ass?
      Anuses act as portals. The writer Paul Preciado talks about them as the universal black hole into which rush genders, sexes, identities, and capital.ii Though separated from the history of my genitals by the cleft of my perineum, in anal, I process my surroundings through my own body. I transcend my bodily limits and port into my deepest nonphysical self.
      Pleasure at the moment of entrance depends on angle, relaxation, and preparation. Plenty of lubricant slicks the space between us. Sometimes opening the portal consists of the butt plug flying out of my ass and across the room, jettisoned by the force of an orgasm. When I lose control, when my sphincter widens, it opens to include the deep and abiding trust I place in my lover. He giggles; he is aroused. His sweet bearded face tickles the skin at the back of my neck.
      When my lover fucks me, it’s usually in lordosis, deep inside me, hugging me from behind, chin tucked into the ridge of my shoulder. His belly rubs the line of my back. Almost every time we fuck, I come hard soon after we begin, and the experience decenters from my pleasure. My lover’s orgasms turn me on like nothing else, and the visceral reminder of satisfaction seems to ensure intimacy and the continuation of our relationship. My lover is never selfish, and is always willing to stop having sex after we’ve begun. That’s not it. It’s an experience weighed and balanced within myself. I worry that when I place my lover’s pleasure above my own, I accede to cultural pressures that exist in the space between our fucking bodies.
      I open. I let go.


Once upon a time, in a small cabin at the edge of a lake vast and cool and dark, there lived an average man. He took women and girls from the nearby town and brought them there. It was quiet. Cerberus guarded his closed door and kept people from getting in or out. Trash piled in fetid heaps on the porch. The man liked to use the bodies of the women and girls for his own pleasure. The power he felt over these women and girls gave him a rush like nothing else. It is an old story which never dies.
      On the spring day when the white flowers budded in the trees, the man brought to his cabin someone new. He drove them to dinner. After, he told her that he needed to stop at his cabin to pick something up. She entered the cabin, just for a moment. Trusting him. The man pointed a knife used to gut deer at the throbbing line of her throat. Bound her hands and ankles. Shoved something enormous into her ass while he raped her, whispering all the while about how he planned this for weeks. Sodomized her until she faded in and out of consciousness from the pain. Agony bloomed inside her, then anger, then fear. As the minutes passed, she realized no one knew where she was and no one expected her home. She wondered whether she would die and decided to make peace with the possibility of death. She lived.
      When the man finished, he untied her and told her to clean up. A heavy wood dresser blocked the sole window. Outside, the bludgeoned carcass of a possum laid in the dirty snow. When the door opened, she bolted for the bathroom. He let her go. Likely, killing her was a bother, given that her phone and computer showed the details of their meetings.
      In the center of the tile floor sat a mount of garbage composed of toilet paper tubes and tissue and condom wrappers and dirty tampons. It reached nearly to the ceiling of the windowless room. The vibrations of her footsteps caused an avalanche and refuse tumbled down the outside of the pile onto the floor. Blood soaked the tissue she held to her anus with trembling hands. She lived.
      When she considered her options, she realized her only option was to leave through the front door. She left the bathroom and stood shocked and naked in the hallway. The thought of clothing herself appeared dimly, but before she found her clothes, the man found her and squeezed her shoulders too hard. His eyes bored tiny holes into hers as he told her to be silent. He knew where she lived, in the apartment behind the pizzeria, with a window accessible above the porch roof. Too poor to leave her house, she nodded. Her voice unable to move past the pain shooting from the bottom of her torso to the crown of her head.
      Once home, she curled into a ball in her closet and wondered when the man might come again, whether she should go to the hospital. Using her ass for bodily functions felt impossible, let alone using it for pleasure. Against the heat all spring and summer she kept her windows closed and locked. She slept at friends’ houses or fitfully, a knife of her own under the futon where she slept. She lived.

O.T.O. (H)

Hand to mouth: mouth to ass: ass to hand: mouth to hand: ass to mouth: hand to ass: mouth to mouth: hand to hand: ass to ass. Neither the ass nor the hand nor the mouth have a gender. The ouroboros of ass-fucking moves toward a genderless expression of pleasure, while movement, sometimes frenetic, occasionally languid, connects our two halves. Paul Preciado calls this a short circuit in the division of the sexes.iii My lover and I interpenetrate each other. We interdigitate with mouths and fingers and asses and our two cocks. Interpenetration moves us beyond our own bodily limits. The sexuality writer and academic Jonathan Allan describes the anus as having a utopian potential for a theory of sexuality, gender, sex, desire, and pleasure that is inherently inclusive.iv What kind of cocks we have matters less—we worry less about them measuring up—when we focus on how they pleasure us.
      My cock is not connected by nerve endings to the inside of my body. My cock is haptic, a prosthesis. The boundary between the inside and the outside of my body is not important, and the haptic quality of it allows me to transcend this boundary. I experience pleasure through the circuitry which vibrates sensations from outside myself to inside. In Sea-Witch, the author, never north, talks about trans sex as a taking of turns. This turn-taking circles the end of a sexual encounter back around to the beginning. The energy central to a magical and ritualistic experience of sex ebbs and flows, but it feels ever-present.
      As I prepare my silico-cock to penetrate my lover, I want to disintegrate the body between ourselves, to feel myself deeply within him. In reading about the pleasure that trans men on testosterone experience, I find myself jealous. Despite how much I love it, despite how much it excites me, I worry that I experience less pleasure than I might with a cock that goes both into and outside of my body, or even less pleasure than I would with the strap-on shoved up against the nerve endings of a testosterone-sensitized clit. Literary theorist Leo Bersani talks about phallocentrism as the denial of the value of powerlessness in both men and women. I don’t mean the value of gentleness, or nonaggressiveness, or even of passivity, but rather of a more radical disintegration and humiliation of the self.v When the strap-on moves at an awkward angle, my lover moans. I love watching his sweet small hips, the soft roundedness of his ass under the pressure of my fingers.

Our mess flows from our bodies onto the pads. We lie back, exhausted. We make a goo-and-fluid Jackson Pollock. Shit, semen, squirt, spit. Sometimes—rarely—a tiny bit of blood. I want to be too much. I want to make a mess, to unhook my sternum and spew my guts everywhere. To avoid constraint and control and focus instead on explosive enjoyment and eroticism. To reclaim all of what is mine and all of what I have experienced. Sometimes, I want to take every conservative cis heterosexual trying to constrain trans folks and kill us or make it harder for us to exist and spew santorum all over their faces.
      When I see anal depicted in mainstream pornography, it is impeccably clean, as though the anus were an orifice not at all involved in the business of defecation. Aa fantasy of anal, as a substitution for the real thing. The disgust with shit, hair, with everything that connects our human bodies to the Earth—all this terror is truly fear of our mortality, of the fact that we are made of dirt and will return to it. The specter of shit is reminiscent of the specter of Death. The sexuality researcher Jonathan A. Allan writes of the anus that it makes many of us rather uncomfortable because of its alignment with abjection, dirtiness, shame, and, in our homophobic culture, male homosexuality.vi This discomfort stems from a discomfort with the abject, with uncleanliness and imperfection. I love the smell of my lover’s ass, the dank earthiness around his perineum. When he opens his legs and my face gets up close, I stay present for him and him alone. I am very, very gay for him.
      After we finish, we rinse and snuggle. With our bodies so close together, the boundary between us blurs. This intimacy feels like transcendent magic.

iSontag, Susan. Against Interpretation, and Other Essays. New York, NY: Picador, 2001.
iiPreciado, Paul B. Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era. NY, NY: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2017, p. 71
iiiPreciado, p. 71
ivAllan, Jonathan A. Reading from Behind: A Cultural Analysis of the Anus. Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada: University of Regina Press, 2016, p. 27
vBersani, Leo. “Is the Rectum a Grave?” October 43, no. Winter (1987): 197-222. doi:10.2307/3397574, p. 217
viAllan, p. 7

Emrys Donaldson’s work has also recently appeared in Cream City Review, Necessary Fiction, Fairy Tale Review, and Gigantic Sequins. Find them in meatspace in Tuscaloosa, Alabama or online at emrysdonaldson.com.