Dykes on Bikes and Whitney & Cher
by A.G. Parker
You do your job and I, belly full, recline and do mine. You question, probing
each hidden part of me. I tell you I once envied gay boys: flat chests,
horny freedom, dark rooms like writhing snake pits,
fears pitted against bodies, sweating. You capture some kind of smile,
invite me to drink cheap beer as summer closes in. Night glowers
over ringed tables and plastic palms
you confess erotic art is just porn, that you’d helped exploit
my innocence and I beg you to do it again.
I have art at my place, you say.
You work me like clay, draw hymns
from my body-cathedral, paint salt sweet murals
on bedsheets so different from the manufactured pleasure
you captured on camera.
When we met for the first time,
I’d ordered a number 39, delighted
to have a free meal included in the deal, laughing,
a Szechuan something stuffed in my mouth. Now,
days later, on your sun-soaked lawn
porn begets cottage core, picnic blanket
props us up, keeps the ground
from swallowing me whole. Lick lips,
fold cigarette paper. Flick
and inhale, succumb. Later,
you coax me into more profound nudity than I’ve ever seen,
you ask to me to be to sing freely in the dim light of your living room,
feel the terror of vulnerability as you gaze and we sway
gradually down onto the carpet. Afterwards, fingers tangled in hair,
our limbs create a new landscape; from sweat-sheened brow
to the ridges and down past hollow mounds, this
is our world now. Wrapped around each other’s curves,
you tell me Norwegian fjords and the sun of Brazil formed you,
before conjuring another seismic shift.
In the club, you are gustoso, dark curls slipping as you circle
stomp incisors gleaming in the lamplight drowned by sin intention
sinful tension sparking riots shark-circled curls slip
shadow cheek bone bounce with every shift of limb pulse refracted
through our skin so wet so close to drowning
under night dark curls gleaming eyes teeth I feel
with every beat sliding against my lips and lips and lips so wet you dance
our lamplight sin fest wetness glade of bucking hips sway fell me
I’m a cigarette paper away
from being phosphorous amongst waves. Ignite me.
Tell me to dance
even as I forget how to move my body
unless you’re pressed against it.
Andro Butch Tattooed Dyke Fucks Enby with Strapon
silicon hardon electric dreams
suck my clit pound me to sleep
I need you.
Years since, alone under a rain-tapped roof,
your voice pours down my phone
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
and I time travel:
You spy me from across the line of Dykes
on Bikes to where I bop in the Whitney and Cher float,
pupils wide with whatever I’ve dipped my lolly into,
breasts Wonderbra high, skin kissed by some fake sun
in a spray can and you kiss me. Wave goodbye, straddle
the motorbike with thighs only days ago I had wrapped
around my neck.
by Joseph Soares
When I say I feel old, don’t try to dissuade me. Because if you do, you don’t know
what I mean. What I mean is that the life expectancy of someone like me is thirty-two
at best, or twenty-five at worst. I just turned twenty-five. What I mean is that I’m
supposed to get my blood pressure checked once a week. What I mean is that often, I
feel like I’m at the end of my rope, the one hanging in the garage in 2014. What I
mean is that I had to get an ECG done because I was having heart palpitations. What I
mean is that my memory is starting to go, and my lungs feel like they’re caked with
butter. What I mean is that there’s blood in my urine and I don’t know what that’s
about. What I mean is that it feels like I have a longer medication list than I have a list
of accomplishments and I don’t know if that’ll ever change. What I mean is that my
cousin had breast cancer at twenty-three and my aunt had a heart-attack at thirty-five.
What I mean is that people like me don’t last very long in these parts anyway.
fear chased me home
by BEE LB
throat choked i think back
to childhood blood
on my thighs
skin beneath nails
binder doing nothing for me
outgrew my body
in fourth grade bleeding
from temple split
lip scraped knees sliced
hips blade in hand
tire tread releasing
ran until my body broke
salt so sharp my tongue turned to brine
crawled back can’t change without coughing
up three hundred dollars to kneel
for the judge beg to be named
(or: for the teenage girl i left behind, but stayed right next to me)
by E.M. Lark
* CW: Allusion to abuse, brief pejorative language*
hell hath no fury like the teenage girl who was never really a teenage girl. but by god
– they remember all the aches, pains, heartbreaks. tears streaked in clumped mascara
down their tender cheeks. a teenage girl is a weapon forged out of fire. no matter what
you try to do, you will get burned in the end. iron-hot sharpened blade of a heart.
hell hath no fury like a child forced to grow up too soon, because one day they’ll look
back and remember everything taken from them. in the absence of safety grew their
fear, grew their rage. but, there is love. not because they are forced to be kind,
nurturing, good — but because somewhere in their family line, their mother fought
back. their father stood his ground. Someone loved someone enough to break the
curse, just enough to feel their heart beat the right way.
a bitch, a lover, a martyr and an antihero. a sister, a brother, son, daughter, and
scapegoat. a teenage girl is a teenage girl even when she was never truly there. a state
of mind, a Jennifer’s Body mirror, a slasher-film survivor, a teenage girl’s fury could
command the gods to their knees if they tried hard enough. and from my experience,
gender euphoria as personal hyrule
After The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
by nat raum
fast travel offers an allure for my limbs especially,
throb as they do after three or four trips
up and down the block. but i imagine the ability
to evaporate, reconstruct myself at point B
in place of being seen in the wild. it’s not
for a lack of craving the fresh air. rather, the look
of this body means i can only be woman when
i walk down the street; i lose the self i have
sculpted in her absence while my breasts still
dome and dart my ironic t-shirt for all to see.
in actuality, gender is closer to an old forester
calling me a bright-eyed young man, bestowing
on me the masculine urge to spear a passing monster
until it dissolves into blackblight, finished with a flourish.
gender is an arrangement of pixels on a screen
dressed in sheikah armor dyed armoranthine,
a haircut i envy not only because mine won’t fall
like that, but also for the boyface it frames. the boy
in me is taciturn, but when i let him go too silent,
i fear i’ll never shake womanhood. i know i’ll never
be fog, wish as i might to atomize these aching
hips and knees, to be perceived as pure water:
completely neutral. but is it so much to ask
that i might one day shed the skin of woman, be held
and holy in the wake of bright-eyed resurrection?
In the womb, before birth
by Lachlan Chu
It must have been so dark inside, so
plain and boring, like watching, like
a suspended experiment, too precious
to break and my mother was careful
with her measurements.
I know things
now but as an egg I must have looked
at myself and wondered why she chose
to fill me up with girl and bathe me
in brown because all I would ever grow
was dark hair on my arms and to want
freckles, too many of them like Julie
who everyone made fun of.
After I was
born, someone with angel hair told me
you’re going to be a janitor or something,
and better not to try. After living for long
enough I think she might be right already,
because I’ve been picking up plastic
dehydrated smiles, freckles scrawled on
cardboard and papery demeanors, since
I was in the womb; since before birth.
I TAKE MY MIDWESTERN PENPAL TO A GAY BAR
by Carson Wolfe
He is a scarecrow under disco lights.
Baseball cap. Tequila shot in each fist.
Blue jeans hardened by years of lying
beneath a pumped up jack, spilling oil
in a city of men comfortable coming out
with guns on their hips.
If I wore plaid, I’d look game to roleplay
Brokeback. He looks ready to storm
the capitol, on the dancefloor’s edge,
chewing his nails like tobacco, shouting
over Gaga how neither of us belong
in a club full of paedophiles.
I am so far from home and the sweet
graham crackers he packaged in soft
marshmallow, to gift me a taste
of his childhood. A parcel of Hershey’s,
handwritten summers on Lake Erie
with the neighbour’s son, a friend
he pretended not to know outside
of July, the month they took turns
splitting wood, wiping their sweat
on the same rag. He couldn’t watch
when the boy got on his knees to blow
embers into a raging campfire.
Nights spent shuffling closer to pull
melted clouds from each other's
sticks. How they pressed together
s’more after s’more, until their fathers
crushed their last beer cans. Buck moths
looked for light where there was none,
and barred owls muted the sound
of promises whispered between
two boys in a tent, to never, ever, tell.
My Skin's Reflection
by Ash Taylor
As I look in the mirror.
I observe my own reflection.
Of somebody I don’t know.
Somebody I never wished to be known.
And yet, they go by my name.
I do not like what I see.
And yet, it is me.
As I grow older.
I look at my reflection.
I see somebody new.
Somebody with a different face.
A different name.
A different me.
Somebody I am not ashamed to look at.
Yet, both people are me.
With things I do not know.
With things I never wished to know.
They are lessons I would not trade for the world.
For they helped
Me become me.
It did not take much to change.
A binder here.
A haircut there.
A deviation from normal beauty standards.
Everything I thought impossible.
Was possible with a little work.
A little support.
All I wanted.
Was to be comfortable in my own skin.
Was that too much to ask?
Ode to a body sometimes called mine
by Ashley Varela
Praise the knuckle hair
waving on the coastline of the middle finger:
autumn gold wind-roughened,
fine as the last strand of sunlight
bracketing the horizon.
Praise the chest that swells.
Praise its recession,
the smooth plane of snow that binds earth,
Praise the belly that will never be pregnant
but may someday be a dad gut.
Praise its dimpled dunes,
the generous shift of sand
that absorbs, but does not absolve, the body of need.
Praise the heart, that two-faced bitch.
Praise the binary rhythm of moon & tide,
praise the little creatures that scuttle the tidepools in the dark,
praise every crevice between what is & what was
& what could be.
tits feel so much like water balloons
by Abbie Doll:
** Editors' Honorable Mention**
that if i could,
i’d lob mine right
over the fence—
& splash you in the face!
What Is A Woman
by Lori D'Angelo
No woman is an ocean.
Instead, she's lava, fire.
If you don't watch out
for her molten tongue,
she will smite you, and
you'll become like Lot's
wife, a pillar of salt. But
would that be so bad?
The world may try to crush
them, but she holds babes
tight, tells them I love you
despite their failings, how
they forget to put the seat
up when they pee, don't
wash dirty dishes off with
sink water, don't always
remember to take allergy
pills, brush teeth, wear
socks, use deodorant.
Her arms may be havens,
but lips inspire revolution,
beckon errant men to fight
for worlds in which women
don't have to die during birth
because men longed for
control of their bodies and
desires. Tending babies is
just one of her jobs. Don't
forget about the capable
queen who ruled an empire,
controlled the world, played
the part of virgin to placate
men who couldn't stand it
that she really didn't need
their less than useful help.
wolf island sweet
by Keira DiGaetano
sand dollars and their thorns
where the girls grow fur and
the adolescents eat sand
on their way to basketball practice
in a rainstorm it’s damp wool in your mouth
vodka dripping down trees like sap
licked up long tongue
washed clean with more tongue
in a snowstorm it’s ice and sugarcane
and the door’s locked on your way back in
so it’s more ice until basketball practice
where sally doesn’t know how to like chloe without biting her
doesn’t know how to use for her teeth for a blessing
loving instead of killing
thinking too much about the pump of chloe’s legs
on the dirt court
popping the ball with her dirt fingernails
so she cuts them
wolf island sweet
when you’re surrounded by enough violence you start to lap it up
at the county fair the most tokened prize is a pig’s head
second place earns you one big
candy floss of net and citrus-sweet bug spray
take it with you in the sea and it melts away
so chloe cries
sally bites her
over the years they build a nest of scabs and coconut jam
and it never occurs to them to kiss
by Julio Rainion
i remember choking on the dirt
my fingernails brown and grey with the guts of the worms
the fear, to ‘pick it up’ and to face it all head-on
to address what i didn’t want to, to look at the scars
i was ashamed of having.
crying. aching. shaking hands
unable to stencil myself, to ground myself, to hold it all in
i remember bleeding. i remember going. i remember the grave.
the woman i was. she remains in the curves of my body
the length of my eyelashes
the slant of my words
my father’s eyes. a gorgeous blue.
the man i am. he exists in the shape of my hands
the dent of my mouth
the calluses on my feet
my mother’s hair. soft and brown, peppered with salt.
that peak i didn’t know existed
until i met a friend
that let me know it was there.
i still wish i were them. but i am me. and that is okay.
i have never been better,
within this oft-unloved body of mine
within this identity i still labor to create