Phall-us I Cut Poem By Kalki Subramaniam Summary, Notes And Line By Line Analysis In English


Kalki Subramaniam composed the poem titled “Phall-us I Cut.” The poem is strong and emphasizes the difficulties that transgender people must deal with. The poet makes an effort to highlight the misconceptions and questions that people have about transgender individuals.

She describes what it’s like to be transgender and how it can be challenging for people to accept them in society. The poem was initially solely shared with the educated and later with youngsters as well.

About the poet

Tamil Nadu-born Kalki Subramaniam is a transgender rights advocate, artist, actress, writer, motivational speaker, and businesswoman. Pollachi, a town in Tamil Nadu, is where Kalki was born. Kalki, who was raised in a working-class home, excelled in school and graduated first in her class.

Kalki has two master’s degrees: one in international relations and one in journalism and mass communication. She began publishing Sahodari, a monthly magazine in Tamil for transgender women while pursuing her master’s degree (which means sister). The first Tamil publication for transgender people in India is this magazine.

Vikatan Publications released Kalki’s collection of Tamil poems about transgender lives, named Kuri Aruthean, in 2015. The book had 25 poems that Kalki illustrated with line drawings. She has also contributed to numerous print and online publications with articles and essays.

2018 saw the publication in a German art journal of three of her poems from the poetry book Kuri Aruthean. Six of her poems from the book were turned into poetic shorts directed by her, titled Vadu (The Scar). She has also published numerous essays on LGBT rights in India in print and online outlets in India.

Stanza 1

No Transcendental Yoga
I performed
to transform myself
in to a woman.
I cut my phallus,
Soiled in blood
transcending death
I became a woman.

The poem opens with the suffering a transgender person experiences in order to be accepted by society as a woman. The poet is very direct rather than attempting to hide the awful facts. She claims that she didn’t need to practice “Transcendental Yoga” to become a lady.

The poet tries to convey her grief by stating that, while not being physically born as a woman, she was born that way spiritually, yet society never recognized or saw it as normal. She severed her “Phall-us” (male genital) as a result, after many battles to be accepted as a woman, and that is how she became a woman, covered in blood and escaped death.

Stanza 2

“O, you do not have
woman, thou art not.”
said you.
“ Lo, behold!
as thou have severed
thy manhood,
thou art now
a desolate tree
decayed barks.
Thou have dug
the grave of
thy own lineage.

The poet then emphasizes how, after having her male genitalia removed, she still had to battle for social acceptance as a woman because she lacks an ovary. The poet illustrates how society treats transgender people harshly, despite the fact that they have to fight and struggle for acceptance their entire lives because of how difficult society makes it appear to be.

The poet goes on to describe how society reacts to their operation, saying that it still refuses to recognize transgender people as women and calls the choice to remove male genitalia “a desolate tree/ with / withered barks.” The choice is seen by society as the demise of their ancestry.

Stanza 3

Live, thou may
Till thy roots last.
The earth that bears thee
Shall give up
one day
as thou have not
planted thy branches
Said, you.
I do not want that ovary
to carry your excretions
of caste and religious

In this verse, the poet carries on taunting others who claim that she will only survive as long as her roots will support her and that the planet, she is carried on will die when she ceases to fulfill her role in society. But the poet responds to such harsh statements by declaring that she does not want an ovary to carry the garbage of fanatical religious casteism.

Stanza 4

And I do not want
In my ovary
the gestation of
those seeds
to grow in to a
tyrannous tree.
Many a woman
as she carried
the seeds of your
made her ovary
your lavatory.

The poet here makes fun of society and goes on to add that she doesn’t want an ovary because she doesn’t want caste and religious prejudice to germinate in her ovary and grow into a dictatorial tree. She is therefore happy that she is ovary-free because many women used their ovaries as the social lavatory because they contained the prejudices of society.

Stanza 5

I am not a woman
by birth.
And that you refuse
to accept me as one
is, in fact,
my real emancipation.
I do not recite
the gyno-grammar
you have crafted.
Call me
an error of nature.
Call me what you will.
I know it myself
for sure
who I am
at any given hour.

Here, the poet exudes self-assurance because she feels fortunate not to have been born a woman. She is truly free because nobody will recognize her as such. She won’t need to recite the made-up gyno-grammar. She doesn’t mind if someone labels her mistake a natural one. She doesn’t mind what she is being called because she is always certain of who she is and it no longer bothers her.

Stanza 6

Renouncing religion,
casting away caste,
united as the rejected,
can you live
this life we live?
Can you become a mother
without carrying a womb?
Can you become a daughter
without sucking at
your mother’s breast?
I can.

The poet then asks questions to those individuals who have abandoned them in society. Can you adopt our way of life, renounce your religion, set caste aside, and form a group with the outcasts, she asks? Can a woman get pregnant without having a womb? Does becoming a daughter require you to suck at your mother’s breast? She is appreciative of her identity since it allows her to be all of these things.

Stanza 7

Cut the phall-us
of your chauvinism
and then you will know
who you are.
And then,
and only then,
you tell me
I am not a woman.

The poet then issues a challenge to everyone who denies their identity, saying that once they have removed the phall-us of their chauvinism, they will know who they are. Only after that are they permitted to claim that she is not a woman.