Androgyny Time Machine: FuturePastNow
I played a mixed-race Black Latina
George Washington in the fifth grade
Grace Jones’ Jubilant Hula
Out-Queened the Queen’s Jubilee
Mami stared while I counted
my mosh pit bruises
she didn’t stop me
dresses that spun big were my favorite
I got one for every church banquet
I felt like I was in drag
David Bowie loves
and Iggy Pop
and Angela Barnett
my partner is 42% gay
(according to an unscientific online quiz)
I am one point away from being
(according to the unscientific Bem Sex Role Inventory).
a boy in high school asked
me during English class,
“Why don’t you dress sexy?”
I answered, “I do dress sexy,”
offered no further explanation
a man from the high school
I used to go to, posted on my FB page,
“I remember boots,
there were definitely boots!”
I answered, “There still are. ;)”
my father was very uncomfortable with me
when I spiked my hair up or stayed out all night
one of my former students’ told me
her mother said she would rather
she be pregnant than be a lesbian
wears a suit like Smokey Robinson
dances like James Brown
poses for pictures like Patti LaBelle
sings like an alien cyborg pixie
working muscles into sweat
and subsequent bubble baths
bring the same relieving joy
I see men across the world
carrying their babies
holding hands with their babies
laughing with their babies
men have always worn skirts
according to Sandra Bem
androgynous people are more flexible
psychologically healthier than
people who adhere to rigid gender roles
true androgyny refers to personality
traits, as opposed to physical appearance
at Midwestern Christian Academy
a new classmate told me I was a boy
I said, “No, I’m not a boy”
she said, “Yes, you are.
You are wearing pants,
that means that you are a boy”
there are aggressive and passive people
within every gender identity group
Dr. Grisel Y. Acosta (she/her/they/them) is a full professor at the City University of New York-BCC. Her book, Things to Pack on the Way to Everywhere (Get Fresh Books, 2021), was a 2020 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize finalist. Select work is in Best American Poetry, The Baffler, Acentos Review, Kweli Journal, and The Future of Black: Afrofuturism, Black Comics, and Superhero Poetry. She is a Geraldine Dodge Foundation Poet, a Macondo Fellow, and Creative Writing Editor at Chicana/Latina Studies Journal.
Dolly In The Mirror
“If you want a rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.”
Some days you feel like a wad of crumpled tissue, ready
to throw a giant spit-ball at the world. Sometimes the words
are curled inside a song, and the pink quill pen fetches
a particular spell, the ample gospel chord
to awaken every flower in the junk yard.
Truth be rotten-honey told, I’ve worked hard
for my mistakes. Every scar and ache,
I have mastered like a hunched over locksmith.
I can count all the men that wanted to play
Here’s the church and here’s the steeple.
Human words can hurt or go numb. Slack-jawed lackies
hellbent to cut me into a Southern Betty Boop—She and I
became all the wiser. A balding boss with a size complex
nursed his shiner with a T-bone steak.
The vowels are sometimes flowers
and sometimes hearses—It’s all in the octave.
How many nights we wait in the bedlam of our own silence
for a phone call from our own heart? I am the wide mouth
where sorrow puts down roots. Inside are all the lonely people.
The church of my voice finding every sad combatant
sitting alone and rescinded to a leather booth.
Cynthia Atkins (she/her) is the author of Psyche’s Weathers, In The Event of Full Disclosure, Still-Life With God (Saint Julian Press 2020). Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including but not limited to Alaska Quarterly Review, BOMB, Cleaver Magazine, Diode, Florida Review, Rust + Moth, Thrush, Tinderbox, and Verse Daily. She was formerly the assistant director for the Poetry Society of America. Atkins lives on the Maury River of Rockbridge County, Virginia, with artist Phillip Welch and their family.
All over town people are meeting cute
The tangled leashes the spilled coffee
They are stranded on islands waiting
for the light they are reaching for the same
waxy apple and queuing at the movies
Tippi and Rod in the bird shop
Harold and Maude among the tombstones
Or you and me at the same concert
Dolly singing “Those Were the Days”
back when I lived in your city
They are returning from work they are sharing
a handrail their thumbs almost touch
they are tall like you the doors slide open
and they are collected by their people
The kiss the quick linking of fingers
the stack of mail the bunch of violets
they are going home to their lives
Brent Calderwood (he/him) is the author of The God of Longing (Sibling Rivalry Press), an American Library Association LGBT poetry selection for 2014. His essays on film, music, and culture have appeared in Rolling Stone, Out, the Chicago Sun-Times, and elsewhere. His poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide and Why to These Rocks: 50 Years of Poems from the Community of Writers.
Obituary for All that Scares Me
Rest in peace, monster under the bed
and the drinks we shared last night.
for all the love songs I have butchered
for my funeral and my second marriage
for the traumas that have and have not happened,
the fistful of arguments I avoided by leaping
into as many swamps.
Not one lover asked
what I want said at my funeral,
but I’ll eulogize anyway.
I want you to read the obituary
to all that scared me.
You know who you are,
all you princes and dirty knights
whose hearts I have broken.
If I haven’t broken your ribs
in a clumsy straddle,
Climb in the casket beside me,
kiss me like my lips aren’t cold.
Jill Crammond’s (she/her) poems have appeared in Tinderbox Poetry, Pidgeonholes, Unbroken Journal, Mother Mary Come to Me Anthology, Fiolet & Wing: An Anthology of Domestic Fabulist Poetry, and others. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her chapbook, Handbook for Unwell Mothers, was a finalist for the 2021 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize, judged by Victoria Chang. She lives and teaches art and preschool at a forest school in upstate NY.
I want to fuck Buck Mulligan
the loutish type
sacrilegious and jocular
the man us Uranians
would do anything for—
give Him the keys
to our platonic castles,
lend Him money,
lick His stubble
shine His boots,
lick those, too.
subservient, the way
He likes us to be,
eye level with
His brawny chode.
We let Him break
dissect the myths
of our being,
cleave us in two
with His masculine unconcern.
He takes our father’s place.
Taunts us over our grief
for our dead-to-us mothers.
We absolve Him,
this new Sadistic Christ,
whip in hand
our bare backs
throb with imagined welts.
We love Him
until our nellies pop off,
our size 8
left on the stair.
Yet, we shroud our lust
in a catechism
while living in
an actual phallus
circumference girthed to measure.
We ejaculate into
His shaving cream
in that cracked, striated bowl
where the razor cross gleams,
each blade containing
a clumped relic
of reddish-brown hair.
Oscillating between hate
we choose the sacramental in-between.
Sean Hanrahan (he/him) is a gay Philadelphia poet originally hailing from Dale City, Virginia. He is the author of Hardened Eyes on the Scan, Safer Behind Popcorn, and Gay Cake. He has taught classes on chapbook creation and ekphrastic poetry and has hosted various poetry events, including a quarterly series for Moonstone.
*"Sort & Filter" was previously published in (b)OINK.
Ben Kline (he/him) lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Author of the chapbooks SAGITTARIUS A* and DEAD UNCLES, Ben was the 2021 recipient of Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry. His work is forthcoming or can be found in POETRY, Rejection Letters, Southeast Review, THRUSH, CutBank, fourteen poems, Hobart and many other publications.
If There is a God
She’s pissed. Hair-pulling, spit-flying,
curse-screaming pissed. She looks
down on her creation and wonders
where she went wrong. She gave us
everything – art and science, rainforests
and medicine, grasslands and goats,
narwhals and math and poetry.
And we continue to fuck it up.
She thinks about the rapture, something
she never considered or promised,
thinks, maybe I should… But then
COVID appears and she decides to wait.
When doctors and scientists create
the vaccine she exclaims, Praise me!
They are not a lost cause! But then she sees
the antivaxxers, the ones who won’t
wear masks, she hears the protests
about body autonomy and rolls
her eyes because women – the beings
she created after her own image –
have so little autonomy in the world
she made in six days. She contemplates
wiping everything away and starting
again – another flood perhaps?
Instead she changes into her pajamas,
the buttery soft material gliding across
her perfect skin. She crawls into bed
and turns out the light. Prays
to herself that tomorrow will be better.
But even if the world is half bad, it remains / half good.
~ from To the Tender by Kristen Tracy
At 2am my dog paws the side of the bed, telling
me she needs to go out. Blurry-eyed we walk
the quiet streets so she can find the perfect spot –
the world is her toilet, but she has her preferences.
We’re having a warm spell and though I know
I should hate climate change I love a 68* day
in December. Scientists say the summer ice
in the Arctic Ocean will disappear by 2035
and this will be detrimental to the animals
that depend on it but in this hour I am only
grateful to not be trudging through the darkness
and cold. When my dog stops suddenly and stares
behind us, a low growl rumbling past her teeth,
my overreactive imagination thinks, Serial
killer! That creepy clown! The blood-soaked twins
at the end of the hallway! Instead, I see a fox
standing in the street, a rabbit clutched
in its jaws. I tug my dog and we keep
moving as the fox watches us, its flame-
colored fur bright under the streetlights.
I forget sometimes how small foxes are.
I forget sometimes how small we all are.
Courtney LeBlanc (she/her) is the author of the full length collections Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart (Riot in Your Throat) and Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press). She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning.
In another life I am a small boy crouched
in a playground patch of marigolds, eating
their red-hearted petals while a distant siren wilts
and my much-older brother lifts his script again.
I like the translucent yellow flags sticking out
from the white pages, I like how they make
a funny ladder, I’d like to turn their crooked
straight, make them reach up to his face half
hidden, then hook the words that keep swaying
overhead, settling someplace I can’t see,
as if swung by silent mighty cranes concealed
behind my brother’s shape. I can’t help the days
a recollected phrase will light on me like blown
debris—when I am much older, when he is dead
and I am a builder, a sensible man sought after
for my orderly sites, my thoughtful touches:
towel warmers in the master suite, an atrium
fountain, walls of river pebble and frosted sand.
Roofs shapely sharp and square, skylight studded.
Weatherproof, I speak in shiplap. I walk alone
at night through my placid neighborhood, rehearsing
one of those lines rough as an unplaned board,
wreck of a half-heard conversation. I tell myself
it’s accident carried me here, a pattern beyond
me, though I know better. I think of the marigolds,
how it was like eating a busted taillight’s red,
how nothing has ever tasted so good, except
your gratitude when I do the Sunday dishes.
Carolyn Oliver (she/her) is the author of Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble (University of Utah Press, forthcoming 2022) selected by Matthew Olzmann for the Agha Shahid Ali Prize, as well as two chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Indiana Review, Cincinnati Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Shenandoah, 32 Poems, Sixth Finch, Southern Indiana Review, Cherry Tree, and elsewhere. Carolyn lives in Massachusetts with her family, where she is the editor of The Worcester Review.
A Brief History of the War on Women
A door, the screen baggy with age, and a girl,
legs skinny as the tape-wrapped stem
of a baseball bat. Faded shorts, sleeveless
shirt, her pipe-cleaner arms bend across
her prairie-flat chest. A ringer-washer,
with its barrel of a belly, stands sentry
just behind her. Through the paint-
clogged grid of the door, bedsheets,
pillowcases, kitchen towels—a dozen
squared moons reflecting summer sun,
flapping like signals of surrender she ignores.
She is banishing some child like a supplicant
spurned, inhabiting her tiny body like a queen.
She is six and knows exactly who she is,
dares to be daring in a new decade still clinging
to the old. Only later will she learn to fear
her own body, to crawl inside a book
like a bomb shelter to save herself
from the burning of her happy childhood.
It would take decades to open the heavy
hatchway separating her from herself,
the light blinding, the air no longer
acrid with the odor of shame.
The Romance of It
There was a time when I was in love
with the tragic. My God, Sylvia and Anne,
how you fed that flame of the sad girl poet
too fragile for this planet. I studied your poems
like guidebooks to the world of the living
for the would-be dying. The gas oven
in my studio apartment wooed me,
while the Murphy bed, that latched purse
of penury, leaked other peoples’ misery.
There was a time when your illness fed me,
filled me with the romance of dying.
I baptized myself in your beautiful images
of torment. But somehow there came a curious
shift. I began to notice less the anguish
and more the beauty, learned to turn away
from death and toward artistry. Sylvia without
the suffering, Anne without the anxiety. Your dying
emboldened me to thrive. I’ve been rowing home
to myself ever since, your gorgeous words dormant
now on my shelf, your legend a little juju in my soul.
Yvonne Zipter (she/her) is the author of the full-length poetry collections Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound and The Patience of Metal, the chapbook Like Some Bookie God, the nonfiction books Diamonds Are a Dyke’s Best Friend and Ransacking the Closet, and the Russian historical novel Infraction. Her work has appeared in numerous periodicals, including Poetry, Southern Humanities Review, Calyx, Crab Orchard Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. She is a retired University of Chicago Press senior manuscript editor.