It By Martina Dominique Dansereau

It

“Are you a boy or a girl?”
When I tell my mother to call my friend ‘they’,
she says, “Why not it?” and I am wondering, if she refuses
to use gender-neutral terms for my friend because it is
“too hard and takes so much conscious effort”,
if she considers them                 to be an it,
then what would she consider
me?
“You have to accept me the way I am, too,” she insists
and I want to tear myself         out of my body
to sever the ties
between our DNA because                 I know
that she wouldn’t accept me as anything other than her daughter,
wouldn’t believe that I could be something else
and still be her child.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”
“Transgender, don’t you mean trans-confused?”
my father jokes at dinner when I’m trying to explain gender
to him, passion kindling my eyes with a fire that he smothers
with words that fill my ears with ash—
“Genderfluid? What is that, a slut?”—and he tells me
that maybe I should find new friends
who will talk about ‘normal things’, before he dares
to meet my eyes and ask,
“What about you, what           are you? Are you
a real girl?” and I laugh it off, caging my storm of fear inside
as if he isn’t a predator that can scent it
crackling in the air between us.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”
When I tell a counselor that I’m agender, she says,
“I don’t understand how that’s possible. You have to fall
somewhere on the spectrum, right? You can’t really
be genderless,”
and I feel like folding myself into smaller and smaller pieces
until even the crawl spaces between my vertebrae are
compressed
to non-existence
like that fundamental part of my identity, crushed down to bone
and carved away to water that slips through fingers
and evaporates without anyone seeing; I want to make origami
out of the remains of my flesh because a paper crane
would be more seen          and more beautiful than me.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”
As soon as my teacher mentions a game, a streak of dread
like lightning                 splits                   me in two,
a current that electrifies my nerve-endings with panic
as he says,        “Boys versus girls!”
and I root to my chair as if embedding myself in its stability
could keep me from falling apart. My friend tells me
to pretend to be a girl
and imagine that I am keeping the balance, but all I can think about
is how my axis is spinning out of control because
I don’t belong here, I don’t even
exist to them; the teacher calls me to the front as a girl and
nobody walks up the aisle between seats because I
am Nobody, I am not a person anymore.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”
I say, “Neither, and sometimes both;
occasionally, I am a combination of a little more one
than the other,” and most days their faces are blank,
my voice catching in the filters in their minds that don’t process person
and only hear freak, and I remember
that sticks and stones may break my bones,
but          words are killing me softly,
words leave deeper scars,
words bleed me from the inside out and silence me,
words are grinding me into something
thinner than the air so that one day when they
finally ask, “What are your pronouns?”
I answer, “It”               as if by reclaiming my skin stamped
with their brand, I can somehow make it
almost human again.

By Martina Dominique Dansereau

Biography:

Martina Dominique Dansereau is a (gender) queer writer and anarcha-feminist from the lower mainland of Vancouver, Canada, who spends the majority of xyr time blogging, crying over spoken word, and attempting to leave xyr house to attend anarchist/activist events. For xem, writing is a vital part of healing from trauma and mental illness as well as a platform to share xyr voice as a marginalized identity. For over a year now xe has taken up performing spoken word at the Vancouver Poetry Slam and other venues, including organizing a monthly spoken word event at a local café for LGBTQ+ people. Xyr poetry is forthcoming in Doll Hospital Journal. Xyr passions include anti-oppression and social justice, queering platonic relationships, radicalizing self-care, cuddling pythons, going on midnight walks in the rain, and dreaming about one day being a renowned writer-activist with a house full of snakes. You can find more of xyr work online at http://numinouslights.co.vu

Apollo 11 By A. Davida Jane

Apollo 11

A rocket fired and a
breath taken, in unison.
Two pointed gazes tilted
up towards the night.

The stickiness of the
atmosphere traps in
all the words I never
wrote down, and the poet
in me flinches as I soar
into outer space.

Above, the moon watches with
a calm serenity the oceans
would deny and the stars
scatter out of the ship’s way,
eager to avoid a collision.

The poet starts counting
her breaths with her heartbeats,
one timer in each hand as she
writes with the ink
on her tongue across the
surface of the rock.

With no gravity to weigh
them down her words float
into the sky, splaying across
the black like constellations
and interfering with the
satellites, till they transmit
only poetry

By A. Davida Jane

Biography:

A. Davida Jane is a writer and student from Wellington, New Zealand who studies English Literature and Classics. She spends most of her time around words, from poetry, novels and essays to working in a bookstore, and can’t imagine ever not writing. Find more of her writing at wefragilehumans.tumblr.com

Natural Satellite By Emma Bosacki

Natural Satellite

during the moon landing we don’t
talk
we fiddle out thumbs stick our
tongues out at
our sisters ask the air “when is this
over i’m tired i want to sleep”

during the moon landing we rip holes
thru our dirty sneakers
giving ourselves ample time to find
new words for the excuses
we tell when asked about
ruination, the chastisement from our
mothers
who can’t understand why we tear
thru everything we touch

during the moon landing the older
generation holds its breath, touch
hands
a lecture from the tiny speakers of the
old tv telling a story about the 1960s,
a history
of 1sts long before our parents were
even alive

during the moon landing we get up
brush our teeth and thru the window
see the first light from a long
hot blast

“a star” our baby sister says but
she is wrong & the ocean finally
stills

By Emma Bosacki

Biography:

Emma Bosacki is a poet and storyteller living in Toronto, Ontario. A soon to be student at Queen’s University, she is studying a degree in both English and Classics. Her inspiration comes from other Canadian writers such as Anne Carson, Michael Ondaatje, and Timothy Findley. She lives with her girlfriend and two cats.

The Ingratitude Poem By Leah Mueller

The Ingratitude Poem

I am not grateful for a society that doesn’t even have the intelligence to know when its pants are down, and lets itself be goaded with a stick into becoming a victim who attacks other victims. You’re too stupid to realize that the real enemy is not some poor fool who has it even worse than you do, it’s the person who has it immeasurably better, and he is the one who dines on your unpaid credit card.

I am not grateful for the fact that the system is fixed so that the card will not be paid, the auto loan will always exist, the mortgage will last forever, the student loans will persist beyond the grave. You have a good suit of chains, so buck up and sing, and for God’s sake, never complain.

I am not grateful for the feeling that no matter what I do, the outcome will be the same because the jury isn’t interested in my problems, the judge is stoned as usual, and his kids are out raising hell. They’ve broken into my bedroom and stolen my toys while I slept. Watch out, they’ll do it again.

I am not grateful for the terror that awakens me in the middle of the night when I realize that I am 55 years old, I have no health insurance, I owe taxes, and my taxes murder people but they’ll murder me if I don’t pay them. My husband dreams the same movie, but at least we can curl up in each others’ warmth.

I am not grateful that we have no compassion for the one who fails, the person who says he can’t keep up and needs a little extra time, a little extra warmth. Instead, we denounce that person as a loser, we don’t care if he dies, because he didn’t earn his keep. Everyone knows the planet will evict you if you don’t pay your rent, and there is a steep extra fine if you pay after the fifth, so you’d better keep moving.

I am not grateful that the meek will end up as coffee grounds, fertilizing the bases of trees at the tropical resorts favored by the wealthy, leisure class. We had no aspirations anyway, and should be content that we were the very best coffee grounds we could possibly be, and at least we had it better than the dirt.

I am not grateful for the expectation that I should somehow apologize for my anger, as if I haven’t earned it by being a woman and an abuse survivor and lower middle class. I am told to despise people who have it worse than I do, but I refuse to submit to that. Fuck you. Someone should point that handgun at you that you love so much—not shoot you, but just make you do a silly little dance that will expose you for the ridiculous ass that you are.

By Leah Mueller

Biography:

Leah Mueller has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her contest-winning chapbook Queen of Dorksville was published by Crisis Chronicles Press in October, 2012. She was also one of the 2012 winners in the Wergle Flomp humor poetry contest, sponsored annually by Winning Writers. Her work has appeared recently in Cultured Vultures (as Poem of the Week), Silver Birch Press, Bop Dead City, Writing Raw, Dirty Chai, Five 2 One, Quail Bell, Talking Soup, and the Rain, Party, and Disaster Society. She will be featured this fall in Origins Journal. Leah resides in the rain-drenched Pacific Northwest, where she broods, dances, and practices yoga.

Iphigenia Laments By Elisabeth Hewer

Iphigenia Laments

I am soft-
mouthed sloe-eyed
sacrifice.

Deer/girl here to
bleed. My mouth
tastes of Mycenae,
father. Tastes of
white rock tombs.

Father, oh! Father,
father. Look at me
my hair your hair
splayed over this stone.

My eyes your eyes
watching this knife.
The sharp edge of
it with the sea reflected.

My white dress and
myth-kings licking
the ocean-wet cling of it
with their gaze.

I am princess,
helpless, hungered for.

You’d eat me alive
for the wind.

By Elisabeth Hewer

Biography:

Elisabeth Hewer comes from South West England and studies Journalism and Media at university in Wales. She loves dogs, fresh starts, and lazy summer evenings. She spends a lot of time not trying her hardest and is trying to change that. She has previously been published in Apeiron Review and -Ology journal.

The Forest Fire By Chelsea Fujimoto

The Forest Fire

The sky is a gentle shade of lavender tonight,
the kind you would have loved a year ago, the kind
that would have lulled you to dreaming on your ocean-carved
overhang; but tonight, the waves are pounding your shore,
and “gentle” strikes the wrong chord, reminds you
of the way he described your thighs and the soft curve
of your mouth, that’s since hardened like a walnut
in the shell, like the way your untried knuckles broke
across his jaw to a tide of “bitch” and a chorus
of “you’ll pay for that, whore,” words that dried to nothing,
like the trickle of red from the corner of his mouth
to the back of your palm. Tonight, the ocean beats
his swollen plum face behind your closed eyelids, and tonight
you can’t sleep for the waves, singing
his “baby come on’s” and “don’t you want me’s” disguised
as “I love you’s; but tonight, the orange glow of Venus
skirts the horizon, like she rose to see you home
on the night he learned that love is not possession,
and that “no” does not mean “convince me”.
Tonight reminds you of the nights he kept you awake,
the days he set fires to ravage your holy branches,
and the dawns you thought would never come; but tonight
the ocean pounds to the war beat of your heart,
and like your California redwoods
scarred by careless campfires, so too,
will your razed bones bloom precious flowers
to plant your seeds anew.

By Chelsea Fujimoto

Biography:

Chelsea Fujimoto is a Massachusetts-based fiction writer and veterinary student with a penchant for poetic prose and slam poetry. She graduated in 2015 with a B.A. in Biology from Skidmore College, and will be attending veterinary school in London. Her writing is inspired by the works of Neil Gaiman, Mary Oliver, Jacqueline Carey, and the Beat poets. She maintains a personal blog, Nubes de la Mente (Clouds of Thought): <https://nubesdelamente.wordpress.com/>  She can be contacted via email at <cfkalila@gmail.com>

Hallowed Ground By Martina Dominique Dansereau

Hallowed Ground

You are spread across the floor, flattened out,
his hands smoothing the parchment of your skin.
The contours of your body form continents.
He lies on top of you, over the whole world,
and not a moment’s glance does he spare
for the cities in your eyes;
instead he explores the mountain-range of your spine,
the level desert plains of your stomach,
the swelling banks of your breasts,
and then he follows the river downwards,
across the hollow lakes of the gaps between ribs,
until he reaches the crevice of a cave.
Therein he plunges, and he is rough
as he tears through the folds of you
in hopes of pilfering some secret treasure.
(His breath makes sparks fly when his lips grind
against yours, and you burn to the ground.
His fists make sparks fly when your mouth turns
away from his, and he burns you to the ground.
Your eyes are not cities,
but wreckages.)

Afterwards, people look at you as if you are stained
and you feel like you are walking around
with your skin on backwards;
it doesn’t belong to you anymore,
not after he decided you were a blank canvas
and dipped his brush into the palette
between your legs.
Your beautiful body was a war zone,
no-man’s-land, but he crossed the barbed wire
and now you’re trying to make it a bomb shelter
to protect yourself from others like him:
men with guns who take what they want
without permission, who lay siege and claim
their territory with wooden stakes, spitting bullets
with tongues like flames.

It was not your fault. You were never his to claim.
He may have thought that X marked the spot
but he missed where it warned, Private Property,
No Trespassing, Violators Will Be Prosecuted.
The law might not prosecute him when he talks about
the dress you were wearing, but you’d better fight
because you are hallowed ground, darling,
and no one has an inkling of the right to march
through your gates and declare it their own.

You are like a temple—no, you are greater
than the walls of Jerusalem, and if he knocked down
your altar instead of kneeling at it, there’s no prayer
in any world that can redeem him.
You have been taught to lie back and take it because
somehow no always spells out yes, but do the math;
two letters will never equal those three.
You have been taught it’s your duty to lie back and take it,
but instead take back your skin:
raise it like a flag that you’ll fight for and wear it proudly
backwards, inside-out, right-side-up, upside down—
no matter what, this skin is yours, so draw blood for it
when they try to tear it down.

Inside of you is a lake.
Throw your shame into the water and drown it
because you do not have to be ashamed;
you are not broken,
there is nothing from you that he could take.
The contours of your body form continents
and no one can lie on top of the whole world.
When he flattens you against the floor
and tries to touch, to own, every acre of your skin,
when he tries to make you swallow his bullet,
become a gun: spit it back at him
in a rain of fire and blood, and incinerate him
when he tries to ravage you with his lips.

Your eyes are not wreckages;
they hold vast cities armed to the teeth.

By Martina Dominique Dansereau

Biography:

Martina Dominique Dansereau is a (gender) queer writer and anarcha-feminist from the lower mainland of Vancouver, Canada, who spends the majority of xyr time blogging, crying over spoken word, and attempting to leave xyr house to attend anarchist/activist events. For xem, writing is a vital part of healing from trauma and mental illness as well as a platform to share xyr voice as a marginalized identity. For over a year now xe has taken up performing spoken word at the Vancouver Poetry Slam and other venues, including organizing a monthly spoken word event at a local café for LGBTQ+ people. Xyr poetry is forthcoming in Doll Hospital Journal. Xyr passions include anti-oppression and social justice, queering platonic relationships, radicalizing self-care, cuddling pythons, going on midnight walks in the rain, and dreaming about one day being a renowned writer-activist with a house full of snakes. You can find more of xyr work online at http://numinouslights.co.vu