The Woman Behind the Makeup Counter Asks What Gender Are You,
the Man in the Pickup Truck Asks What Gender Are You,
the Boy in My English Class Asks
My gender is a sleeve of to-go cups
because he no longer wants to stay for coffee.
My gender is my date saying,
“I don’t think I could go out with a trans person.”
My gender sits across from me at Starbucks, at Applebees, at the cafeteria, shakes its
head whispering please please please please.
My gender is a tube of shimmery blue lipstick called “Unicorn Tears.”
My gender is a brown leather jacket bought for a fourth of its price on Craigslist.
When I go to pick up my gender, it tries its best to look like boy, to sound like boy,
to shove all its lipstick and eye shadow into its pocket for safekeeping
because my gender does not know how many knives are in this stranger’s apartment.
My gender was thrown down a stone well filled with frogs.
My gender is the well.
all croaking and swollen throats and dead flies.
People throw pennies at my gender, wish
for satin sheets,
for it to shut its fucking mouth for once.
My gender is a series of love letters I forgot to send to myself.
My gender is a Goodwill dress for $8,
the only one that fits my shoulders,
Later, my gender gets asked on the street if it’s wearing a Halloween costume.
My gender uses lipstick for eyeshadow.
because my gender needs the money for groceries.
My gender is stubble and skirt and mothers raising eyebrows and men taking photos and the rest
of them glaring.
My gender is a tiny bird in the mouth of a crocodile,
a cleaner fish on the underbelly of a shark.
My gender is so close to people that want to kill me.
My gender is an empty box of Kleenex.
Boys try to find something to Cry or Cum Into, but discover there’s nothing left.
My gender wipes the lipstick off its face,
some days, my gender can’t smile but that’s okay.
My gender goes out the back door and buries a bruised apple at the base of a tree.
My gender is terrified of cigarette smoke because it reminds my gender of him,
of his grey sweatshirt and straw hair and rough arms.
My gender is rape survivor.
My gender is not rape victim.
My gender refuses to become victim.
refuses to fucking die.
My gender reaches an arm out of the earth they buried it in.
breaks every headstone they put its name on.
My gender rips apart every book that says “opposite sex”
claws the word “they” into the chalkboard.
My gender walks into the makeup store, eats all the lipstick,
smashes the glass countertop.
My gender flips every pick-up truck in a five mile radius.
Everyone asks my gender what it is
so my gender
By E.J. Schoenborn
E.J. Schoenborn (they/them/theirs) is a non-binary and queer performance poet from St. Paul, MN. A recent graduate from Macalester College, E.J. hopes to become a children’s librarian later in their life. When not writing poetry, they are searching the Internet for perfect pictures of possums, otters, and red pandas to share with their friends.