One Nonfiction Piece by 許清

Hey, I’m just a cute animal

I think the worst kind of suffering is the kind that can’t be named. Not that I’m looking for a term to put parameters around the feeling. No—I’m saying that it seems like adding any existing name onto it simply diminishes how pervasively I feel it. After all, who would believe me if I tell them there’s a force even stronger than myself that’s controlling me and limiting my lifestyle? I’m sure people would be quick to brush that away as victim mentality, because they’d be scared of confronting the possibility that they might be similarly conditioned/controlled. When they see me seemingly “surrendering” “autonomy” when I declare it’s something more complicated than pure choice—they want to make up things like—I’d die sooner, I’m mad and I deserve to be sent away, I’d never survive reality. Even the ones who idealize me would probably say something like “she was never meant for this world….” And yes, with the misgendering in their eulogy, because somehow if I’m the ‘muse’ which has inspired them to rethink what art means, I’m surely ‘womanly’ and ‘submissive’ and ‘motherly’ and ‘nurturing.’ Well tell you what—you’re just not going to find that long-lost mother you’ve been looking for when you look into my eyes.


Just let me describe my ideal holiday, I wake up, getting to contemplate for hours in bed, splash water onto my face, scrub a little too much soap all around the corners of my face (wiping all the marks of yesterday away). If my hair feels sticky, I’d tie it backwards, so none of it touches my face. I’d stare into the mirror and try looking into my own eyes (yep, that one time—somebody told me my eyes seemed bottomless. Till this day, I wonder if it’s a compliment or curse). And this whole time, I’d be naked. And I’d pass by my wardrobe, and I’ll look at all my available, clean clothes to wear. And I’ll lie down on my sofa, still naked. And I’d contemplate there for another few hours, before I go back to bed, and lie down there naked contemplating till night falls.


I cannot tell you, how good it feels, to be absolutely naked the whole day.


It’s a pity that I’m naturally distrusting of other human beings, especially afraid of what might happen when people see each other naked, I don’t want to be on the playing field of intentions. I want to just lie down, naked, knowing for sure the next second I could still lie down there, untouched by anyone else. This doesn’t mean that I hate the company of others, it just means that I enjoy being naked alone more, and that is when I am completely free from being gendered.


I would put on dark-colored baggy clothes, flip-flops, and let the whole world witness my bare forehead as I walk down the stairs to pick up delivered food, and I wouldn’t have to care what the delivery people might think of me. All they care for would be my money, all I care for would be my food. No harm done in the process, I wouldn’t miss a tip, they wouldn’t call me Miss or Missus, or even think about going to bed with me.


I’d sit on my bed, get a pair of chopsticks, and eat, naked, sitting on my bed like some raw animal living in a cave, and I wouldn’t have to worry about being seen by anyone. I can still head out the door next day, and nobody would think I’d be performing like an utter animal at home, as long as I try to guess what they’d like. Dress and talk in a way that seems scholarly, they won’t care about how naked and wordless I’d like to spend my days. It’s like I’m paying a fine to society to allow me to be an animal again. It’s like I’m paying for protection so no other animal could theoretically come by and hump me without my consent. It’s like I’m playing a huge game, being tested on how much I could deviate from my natural senses, so that I could “prove my worth.” For a while, the games might be tolerable, but I’d never let it get to a point where they can make me forget that I’m priceless, to begin with. Hey, I’m a lab rat with standards.


If I told you this is the level of comfort, the kind of home that I’m looking for, the type of acceptance I need from you, would you be willing to take me as I am? My definition of love doesn’t require you to look at me like this every second. Hell, you could simply love me for the way I am when I’m out on the streets. But if I told you I need solitary spaces where I can be totally naked and sleeping, as much as I can, to recharge myself from the rest of the world’s activities, can you bear with me? Would you be so sure when you declare love for me? Or would you still find it necessary to penetrate through me approximately two times a week, to sustain your definition of love? What other conditions might you have? Determining the shape of my fringe, or how much I talk about politics, or if I’m wearing enough floral patterns to keep your friends from calling you gay? But if I make you feel so ashamed, why would you even want anything to do with me in the first place? Anybody’s first instinct to touch the rebellious is definitely sparked by the hunger for freedom. You can lie to me, but you can’t lie to yourself.


And I sincerely invite you to come by naked and cuddle with me, because somehow with you, I’d actually be interested to know what kind of natural chemistry could be, or just how specialized human anatomy could get. If I touch you here and there, without having any taboos governing which parts of you are to be compared with any other type of bodies. I’ll play with you like you’re the most unique bunch of radical particulars I’ve ever seen, because the way you are arranged is definitely irreplaceable, a work of art you’ve groomed ever since the moment you were born. And I’m all eyes for it.


I just hope you’d have your eyes locked with mine, too.


許清 is a puzzle trying to solve itself. A Jade Greenstone, 口水多過浪花 (saliva and speeches thick like ocean waves), craving for clarity and fluidity. This Buddhist/Taoist nonbinary creature’s moon is in Gemini and is usually spot active after midnight. Either lying in bed meditating and quantum-leaping for days as self-care or going ALL THE WAY e.g. currently writing an original collection of trilingual sound poems with self-drawn illustrations, self-composed music, which will be self-published. Instagram: @jadeandwaves.

Two Poems by Milena Bee

TOP SECRET; to my Macbethian love

mother mary’s
yonder light breaks through 
closed lips, 
closed door policy to your aching betrayal
you cast me up upon scathing religion
an idol to the glory of your own recognition

underfoot, seize my consumption
and supposed conformity. 
a fever scrambling to take hold, a scourge that passes over your
already martyred body, marked for preemptive death. 


you in the deadest of nights 
spun my control 
far away and so in return 
vision red i bound 
myself to the legion of your indecision. 
in light of your neglect chosen 
preference became all i had to combat
your misdemeanors
are you aware? at the way
your sickness spreads, infiltrates me,
my darkest night hovering over you.
dark heart of exclamation 
in the way you relive my own 
reviled actions in the raise of your palm
to caress the spot i struck against your cheek …

what am i supposed to do about
your aching body upon mine 
aching soul leaving – once again i won’t
tolerate you


it seems we are
covered in love it seems
we are
hesitant with love
crafted of such flesh that we
sway with the moon, seek
from atop highest being true
belief. sentience. i meditate
upon an oral fixation and sob
my holy words into 
your bust, sanctified
padre de mis oraciones, amor de los santos,
muerte de mi corazón. 

i forgive you, my highest honor
in lieu of sanctified admiration that
i can’t ordain. 


thrash and shake through 
envious eyes, another notch upon the wall
says you’ve found a kind 
not unlike  your worst moment 
ilk of age. shown your latest 
am i supposed to be impressed?
is it impressive
that i am, an admission received 
by the inside 
of myself where
all good opinions go to rest? 


tired of your loaded questions, tired of
the forced assumption, the late
nights i never tire of enough to admit burning a hole in
the cosmic pocket of your desire, wondering
how much of a candle you can burn when it comes down to
ascetic derivatives of pleasure and self-loathing,
a double sided coin quite unfamiliar to you,
shocking, that you wouldn’t see 


am i supposed to
die here and just take it
ripping my hair out of my scalp for
you you always wanted more than you 
had so i learned to adapt
and take it.


toast to cliches and a dark past

part one.

you lock eyes across a room and 
lightning strikes, where have i seen you before, what will we do to each other 
unspool your brain 
segments of film scratched under a microscope 
in hopes
of finding common ground 
amongst the assemblage, wreckages
of our self-desecrated bodies alaid 
with treasure, deceit. hoarding our own
illness, mechanisms to shape oneself into an appropriate vessel

my soft skin meets yours and under my calluses
i feel your skin prickle, peach fuzz rising to greet me
nervous habits expelling themselves
a dam breaks. a crack in the structure
that never claimed to be secure

peach fuzz of your hands
that touch my back so softly i cannot feel
just you, small against me, 
scared like i am
an encouragement to be brave

it hurts to look at you
in the same sense
that it burns the stone column of my throat
to lose my breath in your presence. 

it scares me
to feel, —after growing cold, becoming a pillar of salt
so that no one may touch me
without losing their grip
i want someone to sweep me up
so love can destroy me. 

// what is unhealthier
idealization: an exaltation
or obsession: domination 
both fantasies, one real and one fake
and both obscene, potential to fail
just as there’s potential to thrive.

in purgatory,  paradiso
seems sweet enough, like icarus
flight capacity wavering. 
avoiding the screams of the inferno, a way
to avoid the memories of past wounds. 
(skin doesn’t forget
so soon. my veins bleed
with rage i won’t speak of)
maybe this time
wings won’t rid themselves
of my sallow skin
so soon.

part two.

fine tendrils of muscles
that keep my neck together
still ache from
the way i craned over your back
as my hands reached 
for nothingness. 

sleeping beside you
is a curse when we cannot clasp hands

is when we are leveled out, sprung
from our choices and facing each other. 
my hand finds yours
and you allow me brief respite. 

is unheard of. disallowed. 
a black mark on my palm. 

perhaps your lips
burn with the curse of my name,
you’re the sort 
to rue the day
of your first bee sting.
you don’t look at me, and i can’t blame you. 
maybe i am the next in the cycle, another
obsessive beast,
caught in a whirlpool. 
jaws snapping. 

i can only hope you dream 
of such ultraviolence.


Milena Bee is a gender-fluid chicana poet, artist, and mythologist whose work can be found in publications such as One Report, Truly U Review, and Sad Girl Review. They are the co-founder of All Guts No Glory, a zine-style newsletter. They live in Los Angeles alongside their cat Tangerine, and a number of houseplants. Find them on Instagram @beenymph.

Three Poems by Jasper Kennedy

How to Be Alone

If I was a betting woman I’d lay my
money down that you are the kind of boy
with a syringe and knife emoji in his
Instagram bio trailing numeric string,
but I’m not a woman and I’m too broke
to bet a goddamn thing, yet certainty is
a crop you can sow and reap and savor
like the distance from face to fingertip or
widow’s peak to the state line or roman
candle to patron saint, and I am content
for now with the residue of canned
rosé and a good water-based lube drying
on my bedsheets. Maybe no man is an
island, but some queers are peninsulas.



“When the revolution comes, ur first on
guillotine duty,” she texts me in jest,
and I am no pacifist, but I do not have
the stomach for decapitation, can barely
watch when they skin the cadaver
in anatomy lab, can only stand to look
once mountaintop has been bulldozed off
into uncanny valley, overburden now
a pink expanse of muscle and nerve
hills rolling gentle over organs below.
I do not know what this says about me
besides that I am capable of misjudging
value beyond what I can strip like coal
from a seam or coins from empty pockets.


Moonlight Wasting Syndrome 

It rains for days, frigid, umbrella-inverting nonsense,
and all I can think about is how I want a honeymoon palsy.
I want my cuffs so tight they give me a wrist drop.
I want to put my queer shoulder to the wheel until
it pops from its hull like a black walnut under a truck tire.
I want to be something interesting to look at.
When the pansies withdraw into the earth I want to go too,
want their stems to braid into my brachial plexus.
I want the neophyte physicians to look at the fibrous
semilunes on my chest and the mercury glass shells
around my muscles, and I want to be already dead
when the anatomist says “In a real body, everything is softer.”
I want to be dead when they call my skinned
and gutted remains “she” anyway, toss handfuls
of fat into the tissue bin, discuss whether, knowing
what they know, they would donate their bodies.
And when they are done, they’ll have to give me back,
deliver me belly up on a river bed, drunk on formalin
and choking on pomegranate seeds. “See you next fall.” 


Jasper Kennedy is a medical student by day. Their work has been published in Screen Door Review, Rogue Agent, The New Southern Fugitives, and others. You can find them any given morning snuggling their cats in a blanket cocoon.

Three Poems by Trevor Ketner

[From fairest creatures we desire increase]

recites desire: runic frame (as of trees)—raw
bead rhymes their teeth—bone tug, ivy tear—
chamber he beauteously / dress it tepid 
to see they shimmer, hiding her / ram rib
tits—heterocountry—hag-cub—bitchwood tune bent 
weightless—us: fun filth / flat amethyst battlefield—
i am manic / naked / answerable—feign hue
to yellow cyst / housefly thefts—tree heft
warms heart—wrathful thorn neons to dot the
god or ash—tin daughter, lend any ply
bow / bend it to hunt—(hit)—new, synthetic ruin—
an unrewarding calm stings a knighted deer—
brittle pewter, holy stone, i gold shut
and throw these teeth—a duet—gravel—boyed.

[When forty winters shall beseige thy brow,]

gowns web—herb hysteria—let’s thin flowery
then—gaudy bicep—insistent herd—leaf dyed
to holy doorway—hunt syrups—doze—given
that i swallow debt, let me whorl—feed lard
ill breath—they get eye winks—ale husband,
why taste harder (fault)—your sheets yell,
tan—(nude hyphen)—i knot woe; sinewy, it sees
fingernails (limp waters / a hand sea), leather sets,
meshes—hewed out virus—debauchery: try a mop
or a match—i hot—i lucid—i wonderflush—stiffens:
exoskeleton / cum—cuddly human mass—la,
sings a boyish brute in his coven—cut—yep,
hood him—we want a wren duet / to be shelter /
a trans thud / sob / melt—oh, welt / honeyed wife.

[Those hours, that with gentle work did frame]

shadow growth—softer hilt (kneed) / it hurt—
the reedy gazelle wove her vow—they eyed
me / ate salt—shy i try valley / wept thorn 
/ hid hardware—chiffon, latex, a lacy hurt—
in (re)forming i elm—nude—meat: rots / severs—
fruited machines—noon herds—hit to wound
/ hunt / feed—wolves shred / squat—a clay tip—
a strawberry—boy head—we seed—even nouns 
tire—metal tit / sin helmet—no furled snows
/ no sprawled frills—a lisp / a questioning—
eyeteeth wet by a sweatier ebb—cuff turf:
name it marrowbone—no errant switch—
i fold two twilights: dewy hush / belt hurt—
hues—resistible cloths—he wants bitter use.

Artist’s Note:

HUNT: The Anagram Sonnets is a series of sonnets created using an anagramming tool and the source text of Shakespeare’s sonnets to explore the violence and tenderness of kink and queer desire, especially trans and nonbinary desire, as well as the resonance many feel between queerness and the occult/pagan practice and symbolism. The rule I set for myself is that I anagram line-by-line, so each line of my conversion will have the same letters as the same line in the original Shakespearean sonnet.

Trevor Ketner is the author of White Combine: A Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg (The Atlas Review, 2019), Negative of a Photo of Fire (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019), and Major Arcana: Minneapolis, winner of the Burnside Review Chapbook Contest judged by Diane Seuss. They have been or will be published in The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Best New Poets, New England Review, Ninth Letter, West Branch, Pleiades, Diagram, Memorious, and elsewhere. Their essays and reviews can be found in The Kenyon Review, Boston Review, and Lambda Literary. They hold an MFA from the University of Minnesota and have been awarded fellowships from Poets House and Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. They live in Manhattan with their husband and are the publisher and founder of Skull + Wind Press.

One Hybrid by L. Sahara McGirt

                      The Oak

                The red-headed kid down the street I grew up on taught me to climb trees. He wanted someone to climb trees and sit with him on the highest possible branch and watch the sunset and appreciate it with him. That blue-eyed boy with his thick spackling of freckles wanted someone to watch sunsets with forever and I recognized him as a fellow lover of trees, and he recognized me too, but we liked the same trees, and he taught me to climb them anyway so that I would be able to appreciate the sunset too. I was obsessed with one tree in particular, thirteen years old, I would sit next to this tree, and try to draw her from her roots to her thick, steady trunk branching out into strong winding limbs that lifted twigs like fingers brushing through strands of leaves, the tresses of the tree drawing nourishment from the sun while I tried to draw every leaf, but I could not because there are just too many strands to be able to write every single one of them. I wanted to memorize this tree, afraid I would forget what she looked like, and so I wrote her down on paper, stopping to wonder at the fact that I was trying to draw a tree on what was once another tree, and so, I was obsessed with another.

Sahara’s first name is a ‘Lil lie’ their mom gave them. It belonged to their great grandmother, who upon seeing Sahara said, “Are you sure that’s not a boy?” She was almost right. They are a Two-Spirit mix of 5 tribes, and are fascinated by the ways in which words and lines create stories and pictures for others to consume.

One Poem by tanner menard


This book wasn’t done because I wanted to take the easy way out
                                              I wanted to write a meditation manual but I voided that idea
I wanted to tell you about the suffering I had endured in a way
                                    Because how can I capitalize on something eternal not that poetry
Was easy for me. That was obscure in the way that John
                             Can erase the barbarism of painting a line in blood throwing babies
Cage evaded the age of anxiety. So I will be clear. I will measure
                                                                        The sort of despair that my family had endured
My heart. I don’t know what the dog god is called so I look them up
                                                                              Forced into hiding the victims of a genocide
Let me find my Anubis outfit or my meditation position
                                                                                     Scrubbed not so much like a kitchen sink
A head free of clutter a steady ticker lacking fear my nostrils clenched
                                                      But like a head free of a scalp like a bone free of muscle
This side & that like weights seeking the feeling that body is programmed
                                                           A people free only in the sense that those who remain
Know safety. In the mornings I have learned to meditate
                                              Remain liberated of all identity liberated of an eternal unity
If I want to move I must do yoga then later walk or do more yoga
                                                   Liberated of a cosmology so ancient that no human living
                                                                                                         in a modern society            

Because breathing is not easy for me. When a man called REDACTED Blue or red can fully understand the significance Does the raping & not the justice. When he crushes your shoulder The underlying unity of spirit & matter. Spirit & matter                          With a
spirit that he leaves like teeth in your life then breathing The pale blue  judgment.  A   being   emerging   from   primal   energy   Must   be
earned morning by morning moment by moment From primal jazz. From   primal   intonation   of     the     bone     When   a   man     named
REDACTED manipulates   you   sexually   at   13  &  you  gain    Before trumpets we had eagles before eagles were forms Nothing but two hundred & fifty pounds by 15 to go from exactly That a so-called civilized being would call monster 430 pounds to 190 pounds in a year in a half because you want to love We worshipped the transformation of form which had not fractured Yourself but you do not love yourself for many many more years

   The French brought us a flower I saw it on the wall
                                                                                       of a not
Only around the time that you are shot in a corner
store & cannot
                      So ancient church in the so-called French
                                                                        Quarter where I
Walk. When you learn the meaning of humility on
the earth
                      Grasp the totality of their dominion where
                                                                                     they seize
Puking your guts out & being told how to be a man
by men who often
                     The essence of life into stone into a symbol
                                                                  into swords & coins
Suffered worse fates who conformed to something
ancient & altered
                           & cups & batons. Before the French were
                        an ancient people who were not destroyed
By a military invasion. When you learn about the
rapes of your grandmothers
                        Who divined the changes with a staff. Who
                                                              were forced by soldiers
Your grandmother’s grandmothers. When you yearn
for light & you work
                               To the garden lands of Oklahoma where
                                                                             they were forced
Your ass off giving away all that is secure to see a
light within
                                    Into concentration camps now called
                                          reservations who know the words
Something that looks like yourself & you are told
chose between man
                          The directions the secrets of the land where
                                                                  my family now resides
&   woman.   You   have   one   moment.   When   all  you
want is for a few words

    The modern version of my tribe has
                   pieced together the saplings

To be spoken in a sleeping language
&   you are David.   You have   exactly

   Trees that dance in the humid breeze
                             & we say with certainty

Rock   &   you realize   that your veins
are solid. I have been crushed & been

              That we are alive today. That we
                       breathe even with difficulty 

A skipping record melting in the heat
the pitch lowering.

Hypnagogic acid trip
         The true teachings are alive but we
must search often we must end      

This   book   wasn’t   done because we
live in desperate times & people want

              Notions. We must end notions of
            ourselves that were imposed by a

Poetry.   I want beauty I want to share
my love with you.   I  don’t know how
long I will walk        

             & we must use our last breath we
must wheeze our way                      

On this earth. I want to give you all
my love. It is all that I have

tanner menard is a Q2S, non-binary poet & composer whose work embodies their Creole/Acadian/NDN lineage. Poems are their method of survival, a linguistic medicine of ambiguity which is certain that love prevails. As a composer of experimental music, menard has been published & anthologized internationally on labels such as Full Spectrum Records, Rural Colours, Tokyo Droning, Install, Slow Flow Rec, H.L.M., Archaic Horizon, Kafua Records, & Milieu Music. Their recent album/chapbook collaboration with Andrew Weathers was published on Full Spectrum Records. menard’s poetry & essays have been published in The Squawkback, Rabbit & Rose, Cloudthroat, The University of Arizona Poetry Center Blog, Red Ink Magazine, & The Mockingheart Review, American Indian Culture and Research Journal at UCLA, & The Wire Magazine. Their poem “see eye my memory my” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Cloudthroat. menard is a member of the Atakapa-Ishak Nation of Southwest Louisiana & Southeast Texas & resides in Tempe, Arizona.

6 Portraits by Addie Tsai

For the past decade, I have been building a practice of double exposures, dominantly through film. But for the past few years specifically I have been focusing solely on double exposures that also twin as self portraits, in order to explore the many dualities of self and subjecthood that I experience—as queer, as twin, as nonbinary, as mixed race, as one who is in the process of healing and also while holding the scars of trauma.

My lived experience as a mirror twin and as an identical twin has informed much of my creative practice, both in writing and in hybrid arts, as well as how I engage with the world. I had been writing seriously for almost seven years before I would understand just how integral that experience was and continues to be in almost every way.

The summer before my thesis year in my Master of Fine Arts program in Poetry, I attended a seminar by a fiction writer who guided us through an exercise using the work of Lydia Davis. What came out of that exercise were the first lines I had ever written about being a twin. It occurs to me only now that in addition to having dealt with passing as white, even though I am biracial and identify as a person of color, and passing as cishet, even though I identify as queer and nonbinary (this was a journey I would undertake a few years after taking this seminar), I had also passed as singular.

Many people in my life always imagined that they were supposed to have a twin, or they had always desired a twin, and that desire or vision came with many projections of what they hoped twinning would be. I kept to myself what twinning really was, and took on their projections (before many years of therapy helped me to stay centered in my own experience and reject others’ projections of me and my twinned state and self). And so, with that seminar, I began to uncover the doubling and halving that I had experienced my entire life, perhaps even in the womb.

My first queer relationship was intrinsically tied to the beginning of my photographic practice, even though I had explored taking photographs in fits and starts for years before. She was a photographer, and we fell into one another after I modeled for her and connected to a part of myself and my body in a way I never had before. Although a lot of pain and confusion surrounds that first queer pairing, the experience was an incredibly formative one for me, and brought me fully into my creative practice as a visual artist, and helped me find a framework for exploring the many ways in which I witness and participate in the world as a person who is also half, who is also double.

Although I’ve taken double exposures using 35mm (and I’ve also recently experimented with taking them digitally), the photos in this series were all taken using a Polaroid camera. Artistically, the Polaroid offers a kind of push and pull against the control of what the camera will output. Not only is there the doubling of the two exposures that rub against each other in the same frame, but there is also the image of myself as I have imprecisely framed the shots in my own mind, and what the camera offers instead. Those tensions do not feel altogether different from my own understanding of myself within and apart from my twin sister. 

One summer, I went to see a contemporary ballet performance with a friend. As I watched this particular dancer on stage, I felt a kind of discomfort at seeing my twin’s likeness before me. During intermission, my friend leaned over and squealed that I looked just like the dancer that resembled my twin. It was in that moment I realized that I never see myself in another in the world, because that other in the world has always been the twinned body that has grown up alongside me. I believe that these double exposures offer me a similar interrogation into the tethering of the outward appearance of the body and the self. It is a project that not only explores the self, doubled, but also what it means to be doubled, and to try to find the singular self that also represents the doubled experience that will never be far from me.

Addie Tsai is a queer, nonbinary writer and artist who teaches courses in literature, creative writing, dance, and humanities at Houston Community College. She collaborated with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater on Victor Frankenstein and Camille Claudel, among others. She is the author of the queer Asian young adult novel Dear Twin. Addie holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Banango StreetThe OffingThe CollagistTerritory, The Feminist WireNat. Brut., and elsewhere. She is the Nonfiction Editor at The Grief Diaries, Senior Associate Editor in Poetry at The Flexible Persona, and Associate Fiction Editor at Anomaly.