Two by Stephanie Dinsae

Bitstream (The Body Keeps Score)

rewindsequence painprotection 
wraptransference scarcitydenial
mumbledata dreambones chucklepoint

A bitstream is something like a transference of data.

A succession of layers all working together to achieve the same goal: longevity.

The bits point to each other for guidance and lessons, all formed by a collection of family units.

Sometimes the different layers resonate with each other.

They take on similar appearances or build or mannerisms.

Sometimes the father-layer has consistent phone issues and is terrible at communicating.

Likewise, his estranged son-layer has terrible luck, replacing phone after phone, and is terrible at communicating.

Sometimes the grandchild-layer is stubborn and resistant, sometimes the granddaughter-layer gets it from the mother-layer and the mother-layer gets it from both her parent-layers.

A transference of data can look like:

Vivid dreams that cause both a grandmother and her foreign grandson to mumble, chuckle, exclaim in their sleep.

A vicious patriarchal system wrapping itself around a grandmother and her children, forcing them to attempt to wrap the same system around the granddaughter.

The genuine care and protection that a mother shows to her child and that he, in turn, shows to his daughter.

A surplus of rhythm, but a scarcity of ways to use it among grandpa and grandson.

The adulterous bones that emerge in certain husband-layers of the family units.

Sometimes the data is the body in all its encoded glory. Family secrets held in code-block. Inheritance a twisted tunnel of traits. Freedom a generative flower pushing forth from its embedded roots.


  1. I am lying on this table of rock. My wrists and ankles restricted.
    My insides chosen to be picked open for the taking of my flesh,
    I want to say I am sorry but I think that’s just the eagle’s beak
    nipping at my gut and I am not used to the feeling of feeling so open.

  2. I opened myself to those I thought were my people
    and they called it a burning, a scorching of the truth. Now my intestines
    dangle outside of my torso and I am told this is supposed to be
    punishment. I am uncomfortable but somehow, this is the freest
    I’ve ever felt. My guts spill across this slab of rock, my heart quivers.

  3. I brought my truth to my people and they called it a burning,
    a burning of any facades and half-truths I tried to claim
    as my own. They called it a burning. A burning I tried to own.
    I tried to claim facades and half-truths. Claim truths and half-
    facades. I tried to claim my own burning. I brought a burning to my people
    and they called it the truth. I called it the truth.
    I brought my people to the burning and they called it a facade.
    A facade of burning. A truth of half-burning. Truth claims to be half-facade.
    Truth claims to be half-burning. Half-truth tried to claim my people.
    My people claimed the burning. I learned how to stew
    in the discomfort of being so bare, supposedly against my will, but I chose this.

  4. I gave permission for my insides to be pecked out. Gave permission
    to be pecked out. To be pecked. Out. To be pecked out. My insides to be.
    Permission for my insides to be out. Permission for. Permission for me.
    Permission for me to be. Out. My limbs straining against the restraints.

  5. I can no longer tell if I am trying to break free or contain my fear.
    Am I trying to break my fear or contain my free. Stifle my free.
    I saw what happened when I unleashed myself the first time,
    my throat still thick, warm with repressed
    flames of my memory, my lips charred with forbidden saliva, my pleasant
    combustion imminent, I saw myself in the flames.


Stephanie Dinsae is a poet and Black Classicist from the Bronx. She is a 2019 Smith College graduate and has received an MFA degree in Poetry with a Joint Concentration in Literary Translation from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Stephanie often writes poetry about shame, myth as it relates to Blackness and her own life, video games, and the flexibility of memory. In 2021, she was named one of six Bronx Poet Laureate Finalists and won the DISQUIET Literary Prize in Poetry, publishing her poem “Dey” in The Common‘s Issue 22. Her favorite things to do are dance around to music and obsess over astrology. In case you were wondering, Stephanie has major Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius placements.