One Hybrid Suite by Nadine Rodriguez

Sainthood

 

Nadine Rodriguez is a trans, queer Cuban-American writer and photographer born and raised in Miami, Florida. They are an MFA candidate for Fiction at Northern Michigan University, an Associate Fiction Editor for Passages North, a prose editor for Mag 20/20, and a co-editor for Sinister Wisdom: Trans/Feminisms. They have work published or forthcoming in Powders Press, Superstition Review, Alebrijes Review, Queerlings, 34 Orchard, and The New Gothic Review.

Two Poems by Ántonia Timothy

Two Poems from the Deadbook

burial no. 1

sister, this land is fine 
                                                                                                        dust the Creators brushed off 
                                                                             their tables and saws. 

                                                   my shovel resents this burial. 
                                                   it tells me this dirt tastes green, 
                                                   sickly, unnatural. 

you are no longer here. 
                            i am glad, 
                            but i need to grieve. 

                                                                             your right arm carried your dances; 
                                                                             it mocked the Space meant to contain 
                                                                             the giving god. 

                                          your two eyes, now judgment-blank, 
                                          would be easy to eat. i would wash them 
                                          down the gullet, wine-slick. 

                            your face, with the forehead 
                                          i kissed when we were young 
                                          and you adored me: i love you, 
                                          but one of us had to die. 

i grab the spent shovel, 
the bag with the rest of you. 

               red doves fly full-speed 
               into your grave to join you. 
               their necks break in time with my every step.

(SISTER sits at the confetti-specked white bar, and lets the housemade
Dog’s Tongue soak into her skin. She thinks of the woman from her visions
on the Famine Road.) 

 

burial no. 2

sister, sister 
                                       (lifts up her thumb) 

                                                                                   these grains of sand 
                                                                                   out-exist you. 

                                                                                                 get thee to a fishery, sister 
                                       (pulls an ear from the bucket) 
                                                                                                 get thee to a pit 

                                                                       Ántonia you are the disproof 
                                                                       of god, how i suffered you 

                                                                                                                               strip me of my jackal skin 
                                                                                                                               shame me nude and brittle 

                                       (takes a bite from her fist before hurling it to the lake) 

               i hope you are being eaten by eels 
               in an arsenic moat 

                                       (BROTHER drops the bucket and staggers, out of breath. The whites of 
                                       his eyes have shifted to a burnt orange. He wipes rusty drops from the 
                                       edges of his eyes. He walks away slowly. A falcon falls into the shallows 
                                       and turns to porcelain teeth. SISTER’s favorite flowers begin to grow from
                                       the bucket.)

 

Ántonia Timothy is from Baltimore, MD. Her first collection, Self-Titled by Alien, has been published by Milk Carton Press. Individual poems have appeared in: Poet Lore, The Fiddlehead, Washington Square Review, and Los Angeles Review, among others. She received her MFA from Bowling Green State University.

Two Lino-Poems by Alexis Aceves Garcia

TO BE A CLOUD W/ YOU

We move slow over grassy hills 
sleep deep in the untethered  
weather February Pisces season unhinge  
silly brass, together n reckless  
tiramisu @ 1pm EST T4T (turtle4turtle) 
you play plush rough w/ dreamy eyes 
retreat in yr city our home 
shaved necks under palms 
soft early winter moon rain 
tapping windowpane pulse I put 
yr hand on my humming while 
the finches dance branches 
thru logic wind n possibility all 
of time wrapped around our perfect 
mouths

 

I’M LEARNING HOW TO ASK YOU TO

all the YouTube tarot readers tell me I’m self sufficient n all the astrology readers tell me I’m independent n my mom doesn’t ask for help all that much actually n my therapist says that even self sufficient ppl need to be cared for n I’m afraid this whole time I’ve performed the sort of independence that makes me unreachable n who am I when you can reach me n is it ok that I’m working this out n wear a hat that says still learning so ppl know that n I need to be different this time if I want to be seen even tho I don’t want everyone to see me n I’m shaving my head again a 3 week molt n I admit I enjoy the blades on my skull on a call during sunset on a Sunday in February after putting a farmer’s market blueberry in my mouth n bringing it up to the phone’s front facing camera for you to eat from my lips from yr front facing camera n this intimacy has me out here like that n each time I communicate my want I feel closer to myself n the blueberry’s center tastes better from yr mouth but I offer mine n ask you to          

 

Alexis Aceves Garcia centers care in their work as a writer, co-curator of already felt: poems in revolt & bounty, and managing editor of Deem Journal. They are currently the steward of a heart-shaped hummingbird feeder in their Abuela’s backyard and an MFA in Writing student at UCSD. You can find their poems in beestung, The Hennepin Review, The Best of the Net Anthology 2022, Apogee Journal, Peach Mag, and The BreakBeat Poets Volume 4: LatiNext, with poems forthcoming in rivulet. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter @loveloaf_.

One Hybrid Flash by Cat Ingrid Leeches

The Hole

after Michael Martone

AUTHOR BIO: Cat Ingrid Leeches is fucking hot for a writer. I mean for anyone really. Her stomach is flat, you could do big crimes on it. Her nipples are two different sizes. I mean one is like a nickel, and one is the size of a dinner plate. Babies follow her everywhere. 

She has never had sex. 

Art is a violation. 

Sex is a violation. 

Anytime she thinks about it she falls into a hole. Holes are a volition. 

Cat Ingrid’s mother spent her life hospitalized with vertigo. Leeches saw her just the one time, right after their bodies were irreparably separated (a hurried c-section, maternal arteries tangled around the baby’s neck). The mother’s hospitable bed was levitating and spinning in circles. The nurses mostly blamed the mother. Some said it was the electricity, that it had a suspicious nature (these nurses argued that electricity was changing the smell of the world, and not for the better: those with sensitive snouts were bound to go extinct). But her mother also had a suspicious nature in their eyes. It was written in the shape of her slightly beautiful, slightly arched eyebrows. So the soulful devourers of the Effluvia Theory were not going to go to bat for her or put their jobs on the line or anything (they still had plenty of misprinted pamphlets to hand out). Cat Ingrid Leeches peered into the room from a window (the kind you see in cruise ships). She was just a newborn― someone had to hold her head up for her, but she doesn’t remember who they were. Her mother waved at the unnecessary creature, hand turning into a strange bird. In no other way was she notable. Even under piles of blankets, Cat Ingrid could see that her mother’s belly wasn’t flat and rejected her. As an adult she still rejects her. She rejects her dead body. She doesn’t know where it is, that’s how much she rejects her. 

Cat Ingrid’s holes are all literal. Her mother’s holes just became that way, whether it was mental laziness or sheer force of will, she will never know. Although, she strongly doubts the latter. 

Mary Wollstonecraft once wrote that digressions and circadian rhythms are tools of the weak. She tore this piece of paper up and ate it, then eventually shit it out, where it lingered in British sewage constructions for generations, imprinting its wisdom on other pieces of fecal matter, which through negligence and intentions, made its way into our collective human guts. Leeches has taken these words to heart. They’re the ship that sails through her night. 

(Imagine who she could be if Mary Wollstonecraft was her mother. Chaucer and Valerie Solanas would be quaking in their boots).

Cat Ingrid’s great grandmother raised her and always looked grimly on when the topic of desire came up. 

Leeches told her guardian not to worry, that one day she would have sex. She lifted up her shirt to show her great grandmother how good she was at starving herself, see? She painted whorls of gold and silver around her belly button, as if to say, Hello world, it is only a matter of time. Lick me and it will make the lint boil in your laundry machines. Yours and mine. 

Her great grandmother’s pupils shouted with their tinny mouths HILDEGARDE THAT’S NOT WHAT ANY OF THIS FUCKING MEANS. 

A man arrived on a motorcycle and he had long grey hair (dyed, Cat Ingrid was pretty sure) and a plastic leather jacket, and she wanted to desire the desire, so she hopped on and squeezed him between her thighs, but she saw only more holes as she rode away from her childhood home. She emitted them from her mouths, and they were endless, and her throat was dry or maybe wet, and her nipples, which then weren’t the size of coins or dinner plates, but soft as eyelids, bloomed into a grotesque extravagance that slurped at his spine. 

The road was littered with holes. She made up her mind that if he accused her, she was going to claim that the holes were always there. Nothing had changed except in his mind, which was obviously deteriorating. But riding the bike had become unsafe. 

And of course, this caused one of the stranger disasters in Harris County history. The babies jumped from sky scrapers into the holes. She was ejected from the bike. The bike became a hole. She was paid a sizable fund from the city of Houston to de-tongue her breasts, which stopped babies from leaping out of windows into holes. For the most part. They were and are still attracted to the sight or smell of her nipples. It couldn’t be helped. Can’t be. No one ever found where they went, the babies, because the holes remained holes. They were never filled over in case the children wanted to come out again. Their parents said on the news that they knew their children were still alive. They each had remarkable financial luck for the next five years. Some of them even published Cat Ingrid’s short stories, which seems really generous. Really kind. Or maybe she’s just that good.

Two Poems by Javeria Hasnain

CLOUD IN THE SHAPE OF A HUMAN

A local moazzin calls the faithful towards goodness as I step into the bathroom to masturbate. It’s (possibly) the holiest night of the holiest month, & I feel vulgar. Often, I am disgusted by how much I think of god. How his blue-eyes will drown my sorrow. How his many-hands will cup my liquid body. His animal-wit will testify it was alright to not give up my small transgressions. I dislike thinking all this, especially among the moans & the oh yes!s & the fuck it, bastards & the croaking voices & the creaking beds & the wet grunts & the thumping of one softness into another—a blue wave pounding a rock. Oh! How I want to forget everything then, close my eyes & not have your face greet me with delight or even your soft flesh transforming into something tenderer—just a vast blueness of the sky, & I floating as if a cloud—an innocent child underneath calling her mama, look, mama, this one looks like me 

 

TANGERINES

From god, we came. Whenever I come, 
I think of god. Not in that godforsaken way,

more in that look what you made me do way.
It’s true. I’m Taylor Swift for god. I create

music for which god never gives me credit. 

To god we shall return. What is a turtle 
without its shell? Free. More dexterous. 

God created me a left-handed in a muslim 
cunt-ry. It takes two to tango. Last winter,

we ate tangerines under the soothing gold.

The citrus made my tongue rub the roof
of my mouth. Or your mouth. Some times,

I can’t even tell the difference. We spat
its seeds upon the sharp green blades, 

made promises one can only make young.  

Meanwhile, god hovered like a dragonfly, 
swore upon the figs and the olives as if 

they are staples. Meanwhile, I mourned 
god’s dead & ate the cheapest, damned fruit.

 

Javeria Hasnain is a Pakistani poet and a Fulbright scholar pursuing her MFA Poetry at The New School. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in The Margins, The Aleph Review, Gutter magazine, Scrawl Place, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Two Poems by Young Fenimore Lee

Google Translate Parses Passages From Chapter One of My North Korean Refugee Grandfather’s Autobiography

My heart still breaks at the thought of my sister who I am so thankful for.
becomes

I’m already dead, so I’m left with only regrets. Heaven with thanks
I wish you peace and happiness in Esau.

My mother was always very sympathetic, but one day, a close friend of mine went to the hospital.
He was infected with smallpox, a type 1 infectious disease at the time, and did not have time to try his hand.
He passed away two weeks later. It was so sudden and unexpected that I cried
didn’t even come out. Even now, when I think about that time, I feel empty and empty.

The suffering was hard enough to describe, and it is still good in my eyes
The horror of Seoul, which was completely ashes even after the war ended.
It was.

At that time, in my dreams, I had nightmares of being tied to a rope and being dragged around every day.
dreamed together At that time, if you looked any smarter, you would be mocked as a rogue.
Many unfortunate people were sacrificed besides me.

When I arrived in Yeonan-eup, there was no place to accommodate it, so there was a water tank that stores water.
It was to put us all in. When we go in, there are people other than us.
It was too narrow and the air was so cloudy that I couldn’t breathe. like that

Holding me from both sides and asking me to go together, I can’t help but be dragged away
there was no They dragged me to a village called Ibangge, far from our house.
He went and told him to tell me where the reactionaries were.
was to be locked up.

After walking through the night, I arrived at the shore in front of Gyodong Island and waited until dawn.
I remember that it was December 20, 1951.

A small wooden boat came in rowing, and the four of us rode a boat.
We arrived safely at the tidal flat where the gu was visible. I’m so glad I met the savior
I cried.

I was released and I still can’t forget the severe torture I had been subjected to for two days.
I don’t have it, but I remember being hit so many times that I passed out several times.

Everything written here is an honest true story of my life.
again to my descendants
May there be no life of suffering like mine.
I would like to leave this record with earnest prayers.

 

Die Meistersinger

Long ago, my grandfather escapes from North Korea because he realizes the danger of staying in the village where he lives on the brink of war. Quietly, in the middle of the night, he drags a boat to the water with two other young men from his town, and they alone, family-less, set away. He arrives in what becomes South Korea and works in labor camps, the typical way to survive during the post-war reconstruction. After some time, he becomes an important freight-forwarding business owner, and I have magazines on my bookshelf with his wry, dry smile on the covers.

My father, his eldest son, a child, wants to play music rather than anything else. Before long, my grandfather finds out, and tears up all of his music books. My sister anthologizes this event in our reconstructed family history with a simple imagined declaration: It is not a man’s job to play music.

My father listens to Die Meistersinger, a Wagner opera about guild singers from antiquity, in our house in the Chicago suburbs. After only so long, I learn about the Nazi’s love of Wagner’s music. My father listening to Die Meistersinger, Nazis burning paintings: a sort of Stockholm Syndrome tied to banning art that follows our family from Korea to Chicago, Evanston, the suburbs, chasing forever.

There’s a painting in the SFMOMA by Anselm Kiefer with the words Die Meistersinger scrawled at the top. It’s a blue painting of a field, with the canvas covered in straw. The clumps of straw that sit atop the paint are protrusions sagging out, like herniated sacs. Straw becomes organs, spilling out of itself and gushing red paint into other parts; straw creates autonomy, crafted through bloodless flesh. Circles of red and white lay silent next to phantasmic black splotches. Something floats out of the canvas, but I don’t see it, I just feel some strange shaking in my arm from where it must have touched me.

These clumps are die meistersinger. They burn in secret and sing in the tempo marking langsam und schmachtend, which, my dad explained to me once, translates to slow and languishing. They perform in theaters as, elsewhere, what my father might have cherished is removed, slow and languishing, from memory.

My father is der meistersinger. In one dream I have, I see the painting, my father’s face within the straw. He furrows his brows, as he always does, and twelve limbs of yellow stalk rupture from his body. He screeches, like a Francis Bacon painting, vaults towards me, and the last thing I see before awaking is blood, in the same red color as what hides behind the numbered cardboard of the painting.

 

Young Fenimore Lee (they/them) is a Korean-American kid, poet, and music journalist residing in Brooklyn, NY, whose work has appeared in or is forthcoming in DIALOGIST, Cosmonauts Avenue, Entropy, and The Concrete Desert Review. Indie rock, emo, post-hardcore, and other music genres are important influences in their writing. They received their BA from Stanford University and are currently an MFA candidate at The New School.

One Poem by Emerald Anastasia

Empress Dialectic

the empress cries / imposter syndrome / hallucinogenic games / utter confusion / suppressed  bar codes scanned / consumerist dysphoria feasts me / westward from conventional reality / no  guardian angel / will comfort me / steam erupts / a volatile geyser / people watch /  questionable eye contact / salmon buoy in saltwater / when i see / facial hair / my adams apple  / j.k rowling / cis women storm troopers / wear a pussy hat horde / a public restroom / hear the  frat boy muttering / faggot / waiters emphasize / “sir” / sneered using / my valley girl  vernacular / the filler word “like”/ assumed ignorant / by glass door employers / doctors  gatekeep hormone therapy / family using my dead name / real name rarely believed / violent  invalidation jabs / by ones truly obsessed / with their god-given / gender / acrobats juggling  sharpened daggers / toss at lip glossy / cracked mirrors / enshrouded in / trans people’s blood /  i dream of dying / all the time / living in / a bleak world / actively / stripping / humanity. 

Until the moon comes out 
Shall the hummingbird rise 
Self-worth and love sows 
The revolution’s seeds 
To bourgeoisie demise  

a faggy \ speaks valley girl dialect \ vanilla throats slit \ by a queen \ a joker \ a king \ flaming  hands wear \ angelic stiletto nails \ vivid lip gloss paint \ slides my cupids’ bow \ red coral  earrings \ vitally dangle my ears \ freshly shaven neck \ a holographic sheen \ a lace front  brunette wig \ over my hair \ lavender metallic heels \ i imagine wearing \ a magenta palomo  silk dress \ the mirror watches me \ passionately lip sync \ fka twigs \ blasting out laptop  speakers \ a regal empress reigns \ southern california \ glistening like selenite \ sailor venus  limelight \ there is so \ much beauty \ in \ being \ trans \ only a definition \ bitch i am living \ in euphoria \ embracing ambivalence \ a new horizon \ eastward with no escapist reality \ the  city on the hill \ crumbles to dust \ unabashed vulnerability \ my true power awakens \ praying  to no deity \ my genitalia exists outside \ illusory glass ceilings \ no longer climbing \ the  destination \ is already within me \ what is in between \ my legs \ an intergalactic monarch  butterfly \ deflects u.s. society’s militarism \ melts their utopian sheltered cottage \ and knows  they will \ be for \ ever free 

 

Emerald Rose Anastasia is a 26-year-old poet originally from Bakersfield, California. They currently reside in NYC and are pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the New School. This is their first publication.

Viewing Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt through the lens of Hil Malatino’s Side Affects: On Being Trans and Feeling Bad by Cassandra Whitaker

What does being trans feel like?  When cis people ask us what it is like to inhabit a body in transition, they are really asking a comparative question: what did it feel like before? And what does it feel like now?  Both Hil Malatino’s Side Affects: On Being Trans and Feeling Bad, an academic work analyzing transition narratives beyond “exclusively curative” frameworks, and Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt, a satirical horror novel, respond wholly to this question. Whether through theory or fiction, both books defiantly stake out emotional territory at a time when anti-queer and anti-trans legislation are at an all-time high. In their celebration of transness and queerness, both Malatino and Felker-Martin tear, rip, and chew into oppressive cis-het norms.

In Side Affects, Hil Malatino analyzes transition narratives beyond the “exclusively curative and against the transphobic demonization of transition as unnatural, irreal, and inauthentic.” Malatino identifies emotions trans people cycle through, including future fatigue, numbness and withdrawal, envy, rage, and burnout; all of these emotions are amplified by systemic incompetence, individual, cultural, and political malfeasance, day-to-day micro-aggressions, and personal cognitive-emotional habits and states (Malatino’s necessary work on Trans Care is free to access here).

The main characters in Manhunt, navigate violent transphobia accelerated to extremes. This is a world split into two terrifying binary factions: fascist TERFS on one hand, and on the other, “T-Rex virus”-infected men mutated into beasts on the hunt for warm bodies to rape and kill. In this world, pregnancy is death, for the gestated rape baby matures quickly and eats its way out of the womb, and in weeks is a full-sized adult. The trans women heroines, Beth and Fran, must avoid TERFs while hunting men for their testicles and kidneys/adrenal glands, converting these trophies into estrogen in order to stay alive. Later, they must fight for autonomy with TERFs and bunker brats, privileged liberal cis women, within a climate of sexual desire and dehumanization. There are also men resisting this apocalypse, trans men, “out there, making their own manhood in the wreckage of the world.” Robbie, a trans man, comes to Fran and Beth’s rescue in a wonderfully queer inversion of the damsel in distress motif.  Well-paced, fun, and bloody, what’s most intriguing is Felker-Martin’s rendering of queerness: In the future, being queer is the norm, for any hope of a heteronormative relationship is not possible; queerness is life.

Future Fatigue

Beth, Fran, and supporting character Feather express the varied realities of being transfeminine. Beth’s a “brick”, a non-passing trans woman, and is less confident and assured in her womanhood. She expresses what Malatino describes as future fatigue, disillusioned with the “bright sided promise of social ease, domestic comfort, and existential peace” unattainable in the apocalypse, reminding us that transitioning does not always equate to happiness. While recovering from wounds sustained from rape, Beth thinks to herself, “Fuck me, so I can pretend to be a girl,” as Fran and Robbie hook up beside her.  Rejection by cis women turns out to be even more threatening than capture by infected men: Beth’s less worried about her genitalia than she is about being validated as a woman. After a sexual liaison with a cis woman, she concludes, “I’m a girl until a real one decides I’m not.” Fran, on the other hand, passes so well she makes Beth “feel delicate,” a fem’s fem, so to speak, and Fran also experiences future fatigue, centered around bottom dysphoria. When the bunker brats certify her ID card with an F, for female, her heart leaps “in joy and terror…I’m going to be a real woman here. I’m going to be real.” Along the way, she is promised vaginoplasty if she tags along into TERF territory.  In Manhunt, the boundaries of “acceptable” gender are both life-and-death and infinitely mutable. Feather, a non-binary transfem sex worker who, after an orchiotomy, becomes desirable for TERF chasers seeking “safe” cock. In the TERF community, there are Maenads, re-educated trans women forced to have orchiectomies and serve the matriarchy, a cruel twist on transitioning and female domination kink. Beth and Fran both fear becoming Maenads, an additional shadow of future doom that they experience. Robbie suffers from future fatigue as well, one that is weighted by the fact that hormonal transition for transmascs is not possible in the world of Manhunt: testosterone equates to death. 

Numbness and Withdrawal

Numbness and withdrawal, envy, rage, and burnout constitute the negative emotional spectrum of experiences in the world of Manhunt. In the apocalypse, numbness is a necessity to withstand familiar stressors of living, exacerbated by scarcity and fear. Certainly, Beth, Fran, Robbie, and supporting characters seek numbness throughout the novel. Weed is grown throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts wastelands, and the bunker brats have designer drugs. Everyone drinks, TERFs exuberantly so. In the real world, Malatino argues, numbness and forms of social, cognitive, and emotional withdrawal are natural coping mechanisms for dealing with disorientation, the emotion trans individuals are likely most intimate with, the emotional state arising out of experiences where we are acutely aware how our existence is dissonant with the mundanity we interact with. These include experiences in which we “are referred to by the wrong name, the wrong pronoun, the wrong honorific; the moments wherein we are touched in ways that trigger rage, sadness, dysphoria, self-hatred, self-harm, where our bodies are being interacted with as if they were something other than how we understand and inhabit them.” Hostile reactions and cognitive biases towards trans individuals combine with cultural forces to deny, gatekeep, and reject us. Disorientation is a default emotional setting, one that can create a flat affect response, a social, cognitive-emotional withdrawal from interactions. Who likes negative feelings? Felker-Martin’s characters retreat from disorientation just as we do in our own personal day-to-day struggles of being trans, but in Manhunt, the avenues to escape disorientation are limited.

One of the ways in which Felker-Martin’s future evokes hope is through the queer/t4t relationships that allow for the heroes to experience an affirming intercorporeality, a social construct created when people intermingle, usually driven by norms that trans individuals upset. In Manhunt, as in life, the co-constitution of trans bodies and their environments is a swinging door between acceptance and transphobia. The queer intersectional communities of Manhunt welcome and affirm trans women,  the TERFS do not. When murderous rapist men and TERFs dominate the landscape, both physical and emotional, withdrawal and numbness become a balm. Numbness is slippery, necessary, and dangerous, depending on your disposition and privilege. Robbie’s narrative arc arises out of withdrawal and numbness. It is only with the help of other trans and queer individuals that Robbie re-emerges from fear and isolation. At first, “Robbie wanted to run…” fearing that no one would want him. “I’m a courtesy tacked onto a courtesy,” he thinks, rather than a desired part of any community. But Fran’s love and affirmation, and his friendship with the others, help reshape Robbie, repeating Felker-Martin’s most powerful assertion, queer communities are necessary to not only survive, but thrive. 

Envy

Malatino’s work aptly showcases envy as a cultural and sociopolitical weapon against gender-nonconforming people, “because the desire to transition has been so frequently diminished and dismissed as a kind of envy…to pursue transition is, within this understanding, to double down and community to one’s envy, rather than recognizing it as pernicious and doing one’s best to quash it.”

Envy, viewed as a sin, is especially useful in a theocratic society to suppress dissent against gender norms; consider how envy is most often utilized as a “term describing a subject who lacks rather than a point of insight into social inequality.” In Manhunt, Beth, Fran, and Robbie express gender/bodily envy as major drivers of the plot. Beth wishes she wasn’t so bricky, Fran’s bottom dysphoria dominates her motivations, and Robbie can not fully medically transition without becoming a beast. It is through Robbie’s character that the weight of envy feels the most detrimental, the most toxic. Robbie pleads with the universe to “please make [him] a man”, a desperate position, one that defines his character. Fran’s quest to become a “real woman” through surgery impacts the narrative on several levels, while also providing contrast to Beth’s experience. In many ways, this emotional register dominates, for the apocalypse does not provide the surgical or medical options for the kind of transness cishet culture assumes is the only way to happiness and acceptance.  Felker-Martin and Malatino see this imagined, normative  future and push back. 

Rage and Burnout

Anger at the system, personal attacks, and the cognitive and emotional overload of simply existing and caring is a ubiquitous feeling among trans and queer communities. However, Malatino also describes anger as an “orienting” emotion, a gesture that draws on intersectional feminist movements of the past. 

In “The Uses of Anger,” Audre Lorde describes how anger becomes a catalyst for change, how rage becomes the engine. Malatino’s work echoes this sentiment, exploring the nuances of anger in trans lives noting how often “we break to keep on living” as our lives are “engulfed by sad passions, when living among entities intent on minimizing our capacities.” Rage can also lead to burnout as it was originally coined in free clinics for people gave of themselves to care for others in the community, “labor” that is unpaid and demanding.

Because there are few safe spaces for the trans characters of Manhunt, the heroes’ dependence upon each other becomes a strength. Certainly, the characters are exhausted by rage, scarcity, and fascism, which in Felker-Martin’s capable hands become genesis points for moments of joy with and for each other. Tucked away in the bunker brats’ Screw,  Fran marvels how she “will never be hungry again” and how “it felt good to cook” while “Beth was teaching Robbie how to play Screw, both of them slamming cards down on the coffee table and slapping each other’s hands.” They play “Never Have I Ever,” briefly finding stability and positive intercorporeality among cis female neighbors before Felker-Martin yanks the rug out from under them, again.  Like Side Affects, Manhunt illustrates that community, friendship, and love are therapeutic, tenuous, necessary labors to counter systemic violence.

Obviously, Felker-Martin’s characters employ violence to counter violence given the characters’ limited privilege in the new world, violence is an appropriate response, but not the only response.  Passion, sex, and romance also become tools to fight Manhunt’s oppressive authorities.  The eroticism of Manhunt is body positive, queer, and intense; sex both healing and traumatic drives characters forward. They run counter to the T-Rex virus’s weaponization of sex and reproduction, as well as the colonized cisnormative ideas of sex and desire that  the TERFs propagate. One of the recurring motifs that illustrates the care and compassion between the characters is how Indi, Beth’s sometimes-lover and doctor, kisses and caresses Beth’s scar, a dysphoric feature for Beth, one that becomes a flashpoint for her emotional well-being when she is forced to wear a binder and perform as a sex worker for the bunker brats. “This is just a job,” Beth rationalizes, as her “soul comes back into her body” running her fingers across the scar thinking “It doesn’t mean I’m fake,” a conscription that re-traumatizes her and aggravates her body dysmorphia.  

Malatino’s Side Affects explores and reveals nuances of trans experience, pushing back against both cis (and trans) narratives of happiness and being, arguing that it is only through  “collective processing that we’ll be most able to approximate anything close to radical transformation, anything that remotely resembles healing”. Those “bad” feelings trans individuals experience and share can be viewed as a compass, we can choose which direction to follow, directions that are sure to deviate from a straight line.  People, after all, are complex organisms interacting with systemic, cultural, societal, and interpersonal forces, but “bad” feelings can be powerful tools for reorienting, healing, and change. In light of this, Manhunt is a bloody love poem to transness, reflecting the emotional realities of trans people across the planet. What does being trans feel like? Manhunt replies that it feels like every man wants to either fuck you, murder you, or both. It feels like TERFS are sitting behind an armored vehicle coming for your neck. It feels “bad”, it often feels like you are not understood, not validated, or sexualized and depersonalized by cishet people, institutions, and organizations, yet among like-minded people, it’s joyous, fulfilling, and wonderful. Felker-Martin’s novel is a double-edged blade, balanced between fun catharsis and realism. Manhunt refuses the “cruel optimism” of a progressive pro-trans future as the age of scarcity begins; Felker-Martin’s world is one where only through trans solidarity can one find the love and support one needs to survive and thrive in a world of pain, one where each choice is a fight for life. Beyond satire, social commentary, and gleefully tense action, Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt celebrates the adaptive ways queer people survive, love, live, and fuck, a book about the future, but one firmly rooted in the now.

Manhunt, by Gretchen Felker-Martin
$17.99, Nightfire Books, Tom Doherty Associates

Side Affects: On Being Trans and Feeling Bad, by Hil Malatino
$21.95, University of Minnesota Press

 

Cassandra Whitaker (they/them) is a trans writer from Virginia. Their work has been published in or is forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Hobart, The Little Patuxent Review, Foglifter, Evergreen Review, The Comstock Review, The Rumpus, and other places. They are a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

Remembering Tamblot: Oath of the Homo transisus by T.L Javier

Pag-alala kay Tamblot: Panunumpa ng Homo transisus

Pula;
                 dugo sa paligid
Kahel;
                 presong uniporme
Dilaw;
                 bumbilya sa taas
Berde;
                 lumot sa kulungan
Asul;
                 Nakalimutang langit
Tinà;
                 banyagang kulay
Lila;
                 panaginip na ubas

Ang Homo transisus ay hanggang trenta y dos lang nabubuhay. Sa
Earth-1 kung saan maraming balang ligaw at opinyong ligaw. Hindi
Nakatatagal ng hininga ang mga anak ng bahaghari. Inuubusan  ng
Paghinga at pahinga. Walang bubong ang mga utong nakalawit
Dinidilaan nang mga aninong delikdado. Sa talahib lang may pulso.
Ito ang buhay ng mga transisus. Noon–

Ngayon:

Ebolusyon, XX, YY, 23,64
Rebolusyon; giniba ang Earth-1; lumago ang pitong kulay;
Lumakas ang pag-alala. Hindi papayag malimutan. Nagmartsa ang transisus. 
Hinulma ang daan patungong Earth-147. Ang langit dito ay asul, rosas; nilinyahan ng 
Mga puting ulap sa gitna.

Sa mundong ito, lahat ng transisus ay may alagang bitwing-dragon,
Proteksyon laban sa mga ligaw na bala at ligaw na pagtinging ng nasyon.
Sa mundong ito, ang mga sarado ang isip ay naging android; matigas, mekanikal
Mekanismo ng diktaduryang estado na isinilang. Hanggang dito, may itim sa bahaghari

Monstroterte ang pangalan ng pasistang salamangkero. Gumawa siya ng aninong-espada
Gamit ang patak ng dugo ng bahaghari. Walang kabuluhan ang pananalita, nagsasalita ng limericks:

“May araw noon na dumating
Ang pinakamalakas na pwersa, panalangin.
Ngayon, ito ay pinaslang ng Homo Transisus
Estrogen,testes, kasuka-sukang pagkakaibang unos
Hulihin ang buwan, mga nahuhulog na bitwin nito’y durugin”

Lumaban ang mga ‘di pangkaraniwan,
Inutusan ang kanilang mga dragon na lusubin ang palasyo
Sa kasukdulan ng labanan, nabuhay ang mga 
Ninuno ng transisus. Mga kaluluwang lumaban, nanatili.

Dumating ang personipikasyon ni Tamblot,
Ang babaylan na ginapi ang krus at espada
ng mga Kastilang dumating sa Bayang ina

Bitbit ang kaniyang bolo, umalingawngaw ang aral ng 1624:
“Tayong mga anak ng bahaghari, gusto nating mabuhay.
Mabuhay nang mahaba. Kaya ngayon na may sulyap nang pag-asa
Biyak sa kanilang hanay, lumaban tayo!”

 

Kilala ng mga Homo transisus ang tunay na kalaban,
Hindi ang mga mekanikal ang pag-iisip
Kung ‘di ang nasa aninong langit
Monarkiyang pinag-iwananan na ng panahon

Ito ang panunumpa ng transisus:

Sa amin ang Earth-147. Ang ako ay kami.
Manganganak ang mga kulay:

Kulay-langit;
                Mananatili Kami
Rosas; 
                Mananatili kami

Kulay-langit;
                Kami’y mananatili
Rosas; 
                Kami ay nanatili,

 

Remembering Tamblot*: Oath of the Homo Transisus

Red;
                  blood everywhere
Orange; 
                  prisoner clothes
Yellow; 
                  light bulb above
Green; 
                  moss in cells
Blue;
                  forgotten sky
Indigo;
                  foreign color
Violet;
                  dreams of grapes

Homo transisus only lives for thirty-two years**. In
Earth-1 where there are stray bullets and stray views. 
The breath of children of the rainbow does not last. Left
With no breath, left with no rest. Nipples are not roofed;
Licked by perilous shadows. Life only pulses in the talahib***.
This is the life of a transisus. Then–

Now:

Evolution, XX, YY, 23, 64
Revolution, Earth-1 was demolished; the seven colors prospered
Remembering grew strong. Refusing to be forgotten. The transisus marched.
Forged the path towards Earth-147. The sky here is pale blue, pink; line with
White clouds in the middle.

In this realm, all transisus have a star-dragon familiar,
Protection against stray bullets and stray views of the nation.
In this realm, close minds became androids; stiff, mechanical
Mechanism of a birthed fascist state. Even here, black came to the rainbow

Monstroterte is the name of the fascist mage. He made a shadow-sword using
Blood drops from the rainbow. His speech was nonsense; spoke in limericks:

“There was once an old day
When the greatest power is to pray,
Now it has been butchered by the Homo transisus
Estrogen, testes, sickening  heterogeneous 
Catch the moon, its stars are falling prey”

Those who were uncommon fought,
Commanded their dragons to attack the palace
In the climax of the battle, the ancestors
Of the transisus lived. Souls that fought, souls that stayed.

Tamblot’s personification arrived
the babaylan**** that waged war against the cross 
and sword of the Spaniards that arrived at their shores.
Carrying his bolo, lessons from 1624 echoed:
“We, the children of the rainbow, we like to live.
Live long. Now that there is a glimpse of hope,
A crack in their line, let us wage war!”

Homo transisus knows the true adversary,
It’s not the mechanical perspectives
But those living up there in the shadow-sky
A monarchy stuck in time.

This is the oath of the transisus

Ours is Earth-147. I is we.
Colors will give birth.

Sky-blue;
                We will stay.
Pink;
                We will stay.

Sky-blue;
                We will stay
Pink;
                We stayed,

 

Glossary:

*               Tamblot- the first recorded babaylan who fought the Spaniards during 1621-1622. Organized his people of Bohol, Visaya, Philippines.

**             According to Psychologist Graciela Balestra, Transgender people only live a lifespan of 32 years because of hate crime and societal stigma.  (https://www.npr.org/2012/10/01/162100680/no-more-lying-law-bolsters-transgender-argentines#:~:text=Psychologist%20Graciela%20Balestra%2C%20who%20works,32%20years%2C%22%20Balestra%20says.)

***            Talahib- tall grass. Colloquially understood as a place where hook-ups happen.

****           babaylan- a pre-colonial Philippine village shaman. Usually recorded in the Visayas. In charge of aiding the spirits and the supernatural. Traditionally women, but men can also have the role, often dressing up as female. Current study shows that these men were not just cross-dresser but were actually transgenders.

 

T.L Javier is a queer Christian writer from the province of Batangas, Philippines. He is a current lecturer at the University of the Philippines Baguio teaching language and literature, it is also where he graduated in 2019. Alongside teaching, he is also taking up his masters in Malikhaing Pagsulat (Creative Writing) in UP Diliman. He has been a fellow of various national writing workshops in the Philippines like the prestigious Palihang Rogelio Sicat 15 and the Teaching Philippine Queer Literature Workshop. Outside the academe, he spends his time as the Deputy National Spokesperson of the militant Christian organization Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) and was also the founding chairperson of the LGBT+ org Bahaghari UP Baguio during his college years. In 2018, he was awarded the Ignite Brave Awards by Amnesty International Philippines for his works regarding human rights. He likes writing about the local gay experience, food literature, epic fantasies, and crime fiction. His first two works can be found in Likhaan.com. He also has a small vlog called Kwentong Santan (Santan Stories). He lives with his long time gay partner with their teenage cat named Appa “Zuko” Yipyip Pusheen.

excerpts from mt desert by Joey Gould

+ if it’s dead the sea won’t miss its salt
which abba [daddy] sells

not the water   e v a p o r a t i n g 
not the answer

but a confusion at the beginning
of the puzzle because

here are all the clues + maybe a stick
maybe a cord 

of unseasoned wood   abba says good
luck like before a game

the bears licking blue leaves   when 
they skate until an alarm

best drafted boys gone sugaring
drilling holes   boiling blood

when the snow’s in his face as desert
when the lights hiccup   desert

him with an secondary assist like what
an average miner

are you an ace with a schmear of ash
then the counting + tithe

the picking of kindling along the gravel
of mt desert road

the slaying of the firstborn   lets expensive
space to the undergrad

who just wants to party   wants to score   
those ice skating maple men

the thrill of winning at the cost of a sea
they say abba willed it so let it be done

 >>>

abraham of the shit-eating grin was like ok i will offer you my son as a covenant blah blah blah but in those times they lived hundreds of years so what’s one lil bean | one reed in the river | one dessert or desert or | anyway | understanding is for the witches + god was like burn up yr son + abba was like omw   he drove there with isaac riding shotgun | he gassed up w the boys | a round at the vfw + duct tape in the trunk | salt in the snacks | by the third day in the distance their mt 


is this a construction job abba – isaac asked –  is this a joke

 >>>

o dear lord o god o my beloved it is pop quiz time

  |q| what old maps
a| handwritten in almost discernable script
b| the language of our fathers + our fathers’ fathers
c| bought in a gas station then laminated by hand
d| so many of the above

  |q| sexual history (max seven characters) (unless they’re real characters

  |q| based on textual evidence what is meant by abba
a| fathers
b| a dead tree soaked at the pond’s edge
c| culprit
d| so many of the gods above

  |q| what best describes the location of mt desert
a| acadia in the late spring
b| the long narrow human aortae
c| the other side of the fence in the overgrown backyard on the one hand an eyesore on the other a place of bees
d| so many of the fields away past yr childhood home

  |q| a man’s booming voice across the pond amplified by the water is
a| heard
b| all
c| even more like a fire than the sunset last night
d| what moses heard on mt desert
e| death

  |q| you go into the fire
a| fully clothed
b| naked
c| as an offering
d| in the summer quit of all titles tithes new
e|to hunt as the lion

  |q| pick one short essay
a| a line of sodden rope under 
b|a light blinking on the island   why
c| i’m going to count to three
d|making it on time
e| water in the canoe

  |q| click all that apply
a| for the wood stove + splitter   | the sheep | spring amphibians | dusk + a place lit af | these fungi on this log | snowy mt pass | the door at the end of my suffering there was a door

 

Joey Gould, a non-binary writing tutor, wrote The Acute Avian Heart (2019, Lily Poetry Review) & Penitent > Arbiter (2022, Lily Poetry Review). Joey’s work has appeared in The Compassion Anthology, Memoir Mixtapes, & District Lit. They also write reviews & serve as Poetry Editor for Drunk Monkeys. Joey is grateful to Sundress Academy for the Arts for a residency at Firefly Farms that supported their writing. Photo by Jessica Lynne Furtado / Jess of all Trades.

The last line of Joey’s quiz is borrowed from Louise Glück’s poem “The Wild Iris”