One Poem by Jory Mickelson


It seems all I want 
is to remember, as if this year 
has nothing to offer & maybe it has
nothing I want to look too closely at.
Where there once was grass, there is
only sand, but no water to carry it. 
It’s stunning how fire 
cleans, or should I say scours  
the world bare, despite the ash,  
despite the ember, despite this field
that’s now only expanse. 

Did I tell you? I once fucked 
a man (full moon, May) beneath 
a black hawthorn, the flowerstink petaling
our sweat & thrust. We were determined
to remember our goodbye. It was there
& there is nothing now. It was 
right there, where you can’t see 
him or me. I can’t explain  
the patience of the soil and of stars, 
how they seem to outlast all 
our taking & resisting by turn, what we give
them. Someday, no one will  
know what I’m talking about, 
not even him, who’s been 
married a decade to a man I know nothing of. 

Not even me, who, I am ashamed 
to say, carved a star into the trunk and
when I passed the tree, I’d thumb the scar 
& call it starwork. But now, the star’s set free,
the field, the tree all air & nothing 
& nothing again


Jory Mickelson is a trans writer whose first book, WILDERNESS//KINGDOM, is the inaugural winner of the Evergreen Award Tour from Floating Bridge Press and winner of the 2020 High Plains Book Award in Poetry. Their publications include Court Green, Painted Bride Quarterly, Jubilat, Sixth FinchDiode, and The Rumpus. They are the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and were awarded fellowships from the Lambda Literary Foundation, Winter Tangerine, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. They are a 2022 Jack Straw Writer in Seattle, Washington where they write about visual arts, queerness, and erasure. 

One Story by Lillie E. Franks

The Chronicler of Silence

Before there was nothing, there was silence. This was the First Silence, and it held within it the possibility of all the other silences that would ever be. But the First Silence was not like the children born from it. The children are holes, spaces where something else isn’t. But the First Silence lacked nothing, because it lacked everything. It was the Mother. 

What we call the Big Bang was the first disturbance of the great and empty Mother which had been the world. From disturbance came change, and what caused change was called something. The First Silence was changed by the Big Bang into the cold and quiet fragments which we call space and the tumbling forward which we call time. Amongst it all, stars shone and planets spun around them. 

The new silences became passive. They learned to contain rather than be. They became the stage on which the silver age of Silence played out. 

The only thing they did not learn was how to mean. 

But in time, a certain combination of something and nothing learned to hear. This new creature, a thing and a not-thing at once, could both hear silence around it and hold silence within it. It was a mirror to the world, and even silence was multiplied in each one into a million new silences, the great-grandchildren of the first Mother. 

Each of these hidden silences knew something. Some revealed what they knew and some did not. But none of them knew the one thing, the single secret that the First Silence knew, the secret of which all their secrets were only memories. 

Even the Chronicler of Silence didn’t know that. 


I came to the city to escape quiet. Most of the people I met there did the same. We didn’t know much about what we were supposed to do in the world, but we did know it wasn’t supposed to be quiet. We were all supposed to be big and loud, just like the city, and everyone was supposed to be listening. 

The problem was, they weren’t. 

I went through interview after interview, phone call after phone call until they all started to blur together in my head. The only thing that stayed the same was the other person was never listening. They looked, read, spat back a few bland words, but never heard anything. 

If they had listened, they would have seen how desperate I was. We were all desperate, and they could only help one or two of us. Having to tell the rest of us no would have been too much with ears open. So, instead, I talked and they turned it into silence. 

Meanwhile, I made friends, some new and a few old. We listened to each other, as best we could, but it hurt. I didn’t like when they noticed how desperate I was, and there wasn’t much else to hear. So I fell into silence around them too. It was the easiest thing to do. 

Slowly, I sank in between those two silences. 

And then, one day, when I was as close as I had ever been to falling, I saw her. 

The Chronicler of Silence. 


As all bodies have a shadow, so each word has a silence. Every time we say anything, we tear nothing into opposite pieces: the words we share and the silences they fit in. 

Words are the product of silence, for it is only in silence that we can speak. Silence is the product of words, for it is only when we hear that we understand silence. 

Somewhere, for every sentence that we have ever spoken, for every disturbance we have made  in the world, there is a silence, a memory of what was done. 

Words fade into memory, but silence is forever. Long after all of us, the silences we left will hold the memories of us for any who knows to listen. 


She looked exactly as she did in the pictures. The same dark-blue, tattered robe, the same tall body, short hair and sharp eyes. The other people on the street avoided her gaze, but I was drawn to it, until I was sure she was looking at me, and me alone. 

Silence radiated off her like heat. The passers-by on the street, the ones who were lost in their conversations and noise, were all driven, if only for a second, to silence by her presence. But where they skipped along it, I plunged into the silence she carried. It seemed bottomless. 

I had first learned of her the way all children do. My second or third grade teacher had asked a question that no one answered. The room breathed the treacly, shame-worn silence of a classroom waiting. One of the boys said “Well, there’s one for the Chronicler!” and the class burst into laughter. The teacher said a few words about how Silence was no laughing matter and things went on. 

The rest had to happen in silence. I had to wonder, make guesses and finally learn the truth in silence. She was made for silence, and silence was made for her. I don’t remember when I found out my answer, but I remember how quiet asking felt. 

And now, she stood, looking at me, wrapped in a totally new kind of silence, one I had never encountered before. 

I understood, in that moment, that she was calling me. No, not calling; calling would break her unbreakable silence. Rather, she allowed me. She would never ask for me, but if I followed, she would not reject me either. 

Like all silence, hers meant freedom. 

I told it yes. 

I followed. 


As a marble block is nothing until it is carved, so noise is nothing until silence is made in it. We cut away the blaring chaos of the world until we approach a single quiet moment, a single lack in the world’s raucous din. 

Silence is a human invention. Silence is the human invention. A tool is simply something from which all but one possibility has been removed. We have never been able to create new possibilities, only to refine and sharpen the ones we find.

Humans spend their life damming the river of the world, forcing it to flow in only one direction, then through only one channel, then through one fraction of that channel. With every approach to silence, they create power, as the world struggles to fill in the vacuums they have neared. 

Finally, we all become silence ourselves, a silence full of every near silence they ever created. Our bodies may burst into maggots and worms which carry on the din, but our silence is remembered after us. 

Humans will never create true silence. There is never and will never be true silence, but the idea of it lives in the deepest core of us all. Somewhere beyond the ability of any person to see, beyond the ability of any circumstance to affect, lives the deep silence in each person. No other person can see it in you, any more than you can see it in another. But you feel its presence inside yourself. You feel that it must be there. It must be waiting. 


Silence of apprehension 
         Silence of apprehension, fearful 
         Silence of apprehension, tragic, accepting
         Silence of apprehension, joyful, unaccepting
Silence of uncertainty 
         Silence of uncertainty, authentic 
         Silence of uncertainty, inauthentic (See Silence of apprehension) 
Silence of adoration 
         Silence of adoration, authentic
         Silence of adoration, inauthentic 
         Silence of adoration, unsure 
         Silence of adoration, disappointed
         Silence of adoration, fulfilled (see Mythical Silence) 
Silence of acceptance
         Silence of acceptance, authentic 
         Silence of acceptance, inauthentic, (See Silence of uncertainty)
         Silence of acceptance, loving 
         Silence of acceptance, anxious 
         Silence of acceptance, symmetric
         Silence of acceptance, asymmetric (See Painful Silence)
                    Silence of acceptance, asymmetric, rebellious 
                    Silence of acceptance, asymmetric, cruel 
                    Silence of acceptance, asymmetric, uncertain


I paid no attention to the world as we walked past it, only to her, and her silence which now enveloped me. 

The people we walked past on the street could tell I was a part of her world now. They avoided my eyes just the same way they avoided hers. They were involved in the loud, crashing things, for now. They wanted nothing to do with those who dealt in lack and stillness. 

I was like her. My breath calmed, approaching the soft, quiet rhythm of hers. My body tried to follow how the Chronicler moved but was too loud and clumsy. My feet slapped like flippers on the sidewalk, and my legs whipped my skirt back and forth, back and forth. 

Someday, I would learn. Someday, I would pour out silence just like she did. 

We came to a brick apartment building, four stories tall. She opened the door and I had to leap forward to catch it after she went in. She held the next door just long enough for me to grab it before letting go. Then, she led me up three flights of stairs and into her home. 

The silence of her sanctum was perfect and entirely unique. This was her silence, one hat she had made and  only she could unfold. It was an honor beyond expressing to stand in it, and to fade into its blankness. 

Every wall of the apartment was covered with shelves which were filled with rows and rows of notebooks. In the center of the room was a low table with several more notebooks, some open and others closed. They were the Chronicles. Every kind of silence, named, listed and described. The work of a lifetime unraveling the single mystery of nothingness. 

Without a moment of pause, she knelt down in front of the table, picked up a pen and started writing. 

She must have been observing silence in the world, I realized. She must have been looking for new kinds that she hadn’t seen. 

Nervously, I stepped behind her and read over her shoulder as she continued. 


Silence of indifference 
         Silence of indifference, authentic
         Silence of indifference, feigned
         Silence of indifference, thoughtless
         Silence of indifference, cruel 
Silence of hope 
         Silence of hope, authentic
         Silence of hope, feigned 
         Silence of hope, believed
         Silence of hope, painful 
         Silence of hope, symmetrical 
         Silence of hope, asymmetrical (see Silence of indifference)
Silence of waiting 
         Silence of waiting, joyful (See Silence of hope)
         Silence of waiting, painful (See Silence of Indifference, cruel) 


For the first days, I watched her while she wrote or wandered the room and read other of her notebooks. But she didn’t like this; I could see it in her eyes. She had not invited me only to watch, if she had invited me at all. Maybe she had only wanted me for a single moment. Maybe she had never wanted me at all. 

I chose an answer. If I was not here to observe her work, then I must be here to share it. I found a drawer in another room full of blank notebooks, and another full of pens. The next time she settled down to work, I settled down opposite her and began to write myself. 

Of course, I didn’t know her or her system well enough to hope that I could add to it. So instead, I began something entirely different. Where she listed every form of silence in all their interconnections, I would write their history. My notebooks would record the origins of silence, how each silence grew into what she had found them. 

A new form of Chronicler for a new Chronicle. 

She did not look at me as I wrote, but that meant she also didn’t glare at me. I took this for approval, the most approval I had yet gotten from her. I wasn’t bothering her. I wasn’t breaking her silence. I was allowed. 


The world has always been full of noise, and silence was always inside us. 

When we listen to the world, we cut away the noise in which we live, step by step. First, we ignore the background, the world around the pieces of it that we think to see. Then, we ignore the precise highs, lows and warbles; a sound becoms an idea of a sound. Finally, we turn that idea of a sound into an idea of something making it. Then, and only then, that idea can enter the silence within. 

It is natural that humans are afraid of silence. To face silence is to face what we are and nothing is more fearful than that. It’s easier to live in the world of noise, where everything is made for something else and every sound means another sound. Meanwhile, silence, our core, waits and means nothing. 

When we die, only the din we added to is left behind. People remember our words, our deeds, the things they thought of us, but our silence is lost. Our core is lost, because our core is quiet and quiet can be felt, but never recalled. 

One day, the world will be only noise, eternally echoes heard by no ear. But for now, there is silence, and we are its guardians. We tend it every day. We learn the shape of our silence and we dream what we cannot feel of others. We love it as we can only love nothing. 

This is the universal secret. It is one we all must keep because to break it would be to break the silence it is the secret of. 


We lived together, or rather, we lived beside each other. 

I don’t know exactly where she got food. Probably stores simply didn’t ask her to pay. In any case, there was always enough for us both. We would eat quickly, quietly, and then return to our writing. 

She didn’t like my writing the way I thought she would. That is, she liked that I was writing at the same time she was, but she didn’t care for any of the stories I wrote. Each time I showed one to her, she would read it irritatedly and turn away, annoyed. 

I would pick a new page and write a new story. But before long, I had lost hope that this next would be the one to please her. I wrote because she was writing, because I had to write something. But I didn’t believe my words any more than she did. 

Creating something without believing it is a kind of silence too. I wondered if it was included in her classification. 

Then again, maybe it would be enough to simply record:  
Silence of apprehension, fearful 

Silence of uncertainty, authentic

Silence of waiting, painful

Painful silence 

Painful silence

Painful silence


There was nothing to mark the day as different from any other when it came. I went walking because I couldn’t bring myself to write anything. She said nothing as I left. 

When I returned, the door was locked. 

I knocked, desperately, but there was no answer. Of course there was no answer. The room was a place of silence, and who had I been to try to turn it into something else? 

Silence of adoration, disappointed. 

There was no way to know what her silence meant, and all of mine became nothing more than a few words. Her words. 

Silence of anger, hopeless. 

Down the stairs. I hated her words, hated they ways they fit and the ways they didn’t fit. Because they didn’t, not really. Her words were short, quick. But the silences in me reached out long past her simple, sharp words.  

Silence of mourning, unwilling. 

If I had just written a little better, if I had been a little wiser, if I had known how to be what she wanted of me. 

Silence of possibility, lost (see Useless silence).

It was useless, wasn’t it? It had always been useless. 

Painful silence. 

Even pain was useless. 

I opened the door. A woman who was walking across the street met me with her eye. Her gaze lingered on me briefly before turning away. Already, her silence had abandoned me. I was trapped, back in the world of noise. 

Silence of uncertainty, authentic. 

And what had I learned from any of it? What had I taken away? 

The answer hung in the back of my mind. I knew it was true, but I feared to accept it. 

Silence of apprehension, fearful. 

Nothing, the voice whispered. You’ve learned nothing. 


There is nothing to learn about silence. . 

Silence is and it has been. Silence is beyond history because silence is beyond change. All silence is the same silence and it will be as long as silence is. Even the smallest noise is something but silence is nothing. Silence is emptiness, and emptiness is the lack, not of one thing, but of anything. 

Stories cannot speak of silence, because stories tell of change. 

Names cannot name silence, because names are for things. 

Silence is beyond stories. 

Silence is beyond names. 

Silence is where stories and names go to die. 


I walked down the street, unsure where I was going and what I was walking away from. 



Lillie E. Franks is a trans author and teacher who lives in Chicago, Illinois with the best cats. You can read her work at places like Always Crashing, Poemeleon, and Drunk Monkeys, or follow her on Twitter at @onyxaminedlife. She loves anything that is not the way it should be. 

Three Poems by Zoë Fay-Stindt


Break the neck of the capitalist shrike, hollering and hollering in my belly. Behind her, a clogged and rusting pleasure barrel: body slam it. River-soak yet? Call my high school lover who pulled 1/3 of a split condom   from me with his bare hand.   No, wait, not him—call the gone   sister who explained to my college love,   full up   on Franzia,   how to go about it:  three fingers and an instruction manual   somewhere piled under   past-due toll bills.   The women always knew, no step-by-step. With your tongue, whistle back to the nuthatch singing outside, rhythmic, again, again, again, again,  don’t,  stop,  there,  the ice,  on Ada,  Hayden,  melting,  plates,  shattering, into,  each  other.  Tiny.  Mountains.  Rising.  Plunge.  Me.  Daddy.  I’ve never.  Met an  iceberg. I didn’t want  /  to swallow  /  whole, never  /  met a half-  /  woman I didn’t  /  want to cultivate  / a garden with.   You know   the metaphor,  right?   The one   where we both   go yodeling through fields of mustard after?   You the nun,   I the bad, bad God?  Baby, were you a flute player in a past life?   I can feel every desperate   rumble from the disappearing glaciers, shifting   grief around   in my anatomy—quickly,   hunger darling.   We don’t have much time.



Past the room where a merwoman 
lies, pointy tits, all bronze & crowned 
into spikes, past the courtyard 
where the boy leaps from Pegasus 
into February blue, past the dead 
fountains and frozen pathways 
and worked, warped stone, a small girl 
in her blonde bob and pinked-up 
Sunday pajamas says this one 
to the grandmother willing her 
to take a photo with Grant Wood 
and his stocky yard, green & brown 
everything, flat, but she says no, this one
sidles up to this white curve of marble: 
sculpture’s ass sparkling, whisper 
tits, and no head just the essence 
of a woman, coiled up, bottom-heavy, 
propped on a square & sure podium 
in the middle of a room where sun 
slants away from her: take my picture.
The artist’s grief, says the plaque 
on the wall, transformed the wife 
he lost to a stove accident 
into “an abstract image of beauty 
and tranquility,” the unicorns or ladybugs 
on the girl’s shirt crawling now
as she poses, the block beaming, 
huge, colossal in its stillness, its finale, 
as her grandmother coaxes the girl—
say I love you, say I love you, mommy
to look into the mechanical eye.


Little me,

In Wisconsin, everyone waves to each other.

The stray cat in front of the co-op has gotten more love in the last twenty minutes than anyone can hope for in a year: someone’s just stooped their ancient body down to meet her with their rough hands behind her welcome ear; another has emptied a yogurt container to fill with water. 

There is always someone waiting to shower you, little one. 

In the driftless, every valley dodged the glacier’s flattening heft. Now, a farm cat swats at the blackbirds swooping down to greet it. 

We’re never out of the woods: more woods, more wolves howling as you try to brave the outhouse. In the morning, all those trees remind you of their fellowship: eyes upon eyes of birches. I’m alone, said nobody ever without lying. 

I know you are spooked, little me. I’ll hold you with my two warmest hands. I’ll take you to the bloodroot, imagine how its broken stem would light our finger pads orange, then let it be. 

Someone who stayed in this cabin before us got themselves a deer: from the woodline, her ribs poke up like many white fingers. 

I’m not saying, it’s all alright. I’m not saying, everything or forever

I’m taking you to the Kickapoo: a hundred watery curves, a hundred hiding spots. Press your hips into the river’s. Dozens of wood anemones nodding back to you. 

Put your feet in the goop. Watch the fly busy your belly hair. 

I’ll wash the dried mud from your feet this evening on the back steps. Blue Dawn suds between every little piggy. 

Take a load off, little me. Like the black cat at the store’s mechanical mouth, stretch your neck out. 

Let the love come. 


Zoë Fay-Stindt (she/Z/they) is a queer, bicontinental poet with roots in both the French and American south. Their work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, featured or forthcoming in places such as RHINO, Poet Lore, and Ninth Letter, and gathered into a chapbook, Bird Body, winner of Cordella Press’ inaugural Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize. She lives in Ames, Iowa, where she is an MFA candidate at Iowa State University and community farm volunteer.

Two Poems by Jessica Rowshandel

ex gf moon landing

okay so naturally you were commander
neil armstrong. i was buzz. 
it’s the 80s now. the moon is long gone.
some souvenir rocks are safe at nasa.
it’s 2012 now. neil, man, you died.
it was your heart of course. 

so your wife finally came clean.
it’s her time now, maybe a book deal.
call the national enquirer! 
call the sun! tell them! 
the apollo program. 
a hollywood hoax. stanley kubrik
does excellent adaptations. 

your name is michael collins 
and you’re still alive, but 
neil armstrong was 
a better name, a man’s man name,
even has the word strong

michael collins is a plain name
the one in the story who never 
got to walk on the moon 
even after traveling all that way.
he hung back in the space taxi. of course
buzz is my real name. the rocket
sounds our bodies made. 
i guess i should have known 
neil, you were just as real 
as that moon mission. 
it was critical 
to beat the russians.


Landscape of an Apartment Rental

My reflections stream from ceiling to floor

an ocean gyre spins the dishes of clothes. 

I wash myself in white rapids and foam, 

sing of old trees peeled from antique stores. 

Instead of owls in the cabinets, 
trinkets for the crows. 

I summon twelve stark suns, 
call both the dusk and dawn, 

fasten time to a film reel 
at half and double speeds. 

The springtime creatures frolic in the mirage that hangs

from a gypsum wall and I can shut them out

as with the stars. What is left— 

me and my dog, 
two lazy hogs who sleep all day 

on the cotton mountain dropped in this place

by the Black skin in my blood 

whose hands hold us. 
Then we were dynamos. 
Now we are lost in the heath.


Jessica Rowshandel (they/them) is a nonbinary Afro-Taíno Puerto Rican + Persian writer, visual artist, and musician. Their creative writing has been published in HiConcept MagazineEpiphanies and Late Realizations of LoveFever Spores: The Queer Reclamation of William S. Burroughs, and Mid-Level Management Literary Magazine. For more information please visit Twitter: @JRowshandel.

One Poem by Travis Hedge Coke

Tenpin Buttons

Fantastic at what cannibal love story is found at Reddit
but, there will bean ending at Grandma’s house in 1985.
The more I don’t care, the more one of the most annoying
choices are presented to me, the peyote in one hole in one.


Bean ending?

Surely, the human bean.
The illiterate cactus button.


Some people come out strong talking hard of drugs they have never seen
experts in cold fusion theories of MK-Ultra politricks they do not understand.
Make website connections and social media collateral in tenderqueer tinpan
set blue Hello Kitty alarm clocks and doxx children and dragons in quotetweet tenpin

Tower of Babal, Children of the Earth
Digging translucent large heads through dirt and food,
mulch is good, in mulch we thrust, in mulch we trust, in much
much time we know growing is good

In our Earth, all your heroes will be blue in their alarm
the the the need for more non-Indigenous people to get involved
in racism in colonized places

In our Earth, the displacement is so anticipated
the removal of what lives in our Earth is expected
delays are irritations to the diggers and plowers
the strangers invading this dirt

Tick of Banks, Bellecourt, Thunderhawk.

All we have to live on is dirt and mulch and mulch goods.

Colonials talk of cactus buttons and bussed trips and 
in Grandma’s house in 1985 there was a revolution
a shower of swag in a cookie tin cascading AIM buttons
felt banners, old prayer ties and seed beads

Tick off Banks, Bellecourt, McCloud, Sanchez

Yellow, fat-legged crack-it of the Earth
Circuit of the urn in the good much of the dirt
in Grandma’s house in 1985 in colonized places
there is, in the distance, in someone else’s house
discussion of which genocidal white-run organization
has the better right to drive you all to death
while their proponents, on their off time, talk about peyote and timers
and those AIM buttons accrue scratches and fade

Tick off McCloud, Sanchez, Connie Redbird Uri.

They used to sell Native peoples on sterilization by saying they could remove the womb and later, when they felt like it, they could have a womb transplant.

January 2022 is the first time anyone received financial restitution for this crime.

While they talk about cactus button trips and the sacredity of fetus.

As much as fifty percent of Native people who had wombs, in the United States, living in the Twentieth Century, were sterilized. And, in other houses, not that far away, the conversation is still which genocidal white-run organization has a better right to drive you all to death.

What have are seed beads and old prayer ties in a cookie box in the shape of a circle. 


Travis Hedge Coke is a queer, mixed Native enby from North Carolina, living in California. The author of Us Living in Fictional Cosmogonies, Examining New X-Men, and the forthcoming, There Is Nothing Left to Say (On The Invisibles), and a former editor of Along the Chaparral, Future Earth Magazine, and About Place, Hedge Coke has been a guest presenter at Naropa University, University of California, Harbin Institute, and taught at Shandong University and University of Nebraska Kearney. They write a weekly column for Comic Watch called Patricia Highsmash.

One Poem by Jubilee Finnegan


The first time I felt them beneath me, they called me Daddy.
Daddy hits a lot harder when you’ve tried to rid your body of masculinity.
It’s a bit terrifying to see them invoke that with so much pleasure.
Maleness becomes visible in your most intimate moments.

That weekend, I tell my other queer friends.
All of us are dressed in gaudy roller-rink-80’s-arcade clothes.
They nod along, either to me or to the thuds of the hyperpop above..
One says she would like being called daddy, smoke fluttering between her lips.
The cloud brushes past me, her eyelids half open, and I wonder if she sees me this way, too.
She says it so easily, like it wouldn’t even sting. It’s not a dirty word for her.

That night, I’m tracing the shape my tongue makes as I mutter the word.
It touches the roof of my mouth, then bows in some form of erotic reverence.
In those moments of closeness and delight, they look at the deepest parts of me.
No matter how many thrift stores I go to, how many layers of concealer I apply,
what they see is the wingspan of masculine shoulders, the gruff chest hairs of a man.
Shaved jawline bristling against their inner thigh, aged man’s sandpaper stubble.
Biology that overrides years of interbody warfare.

We’re wrapped up together beneath a blanket. Through the window, I can hear music.
Our skin layered, I listen as my fingers trace the shape of them.
Humming along, their head falls against my flat breast. The vibrations reverberate through them.
When I was young, I imagined vocal chords as these massive cello strings in my neck.
Starting voice training, I imagined them snapping under the pressure.
The bow of my instrument scraped against my lungs, and every failure denied me my femininity.

I bent myself into terrible shapes that I dared not look at
Here though,  am I the mixture of my feminine energies and masculine form?
My body is not my whole body, my arms are not my whole arms. 
Synthetic form of transgender artifice,
we are a tied knot of flesh and words. My voice hums, and my heart sours.


Jubilee Finnegan (they/them) is a junior English literature student at Chapman University. They emphasize transcribing their lived experience into their work as a form of self-reflection. When not writing, they are often reading, walking the beaches of Southern California, or caring for plants with their friends. They can be found on Twitter at @finneyflame or on Instagram @jwfinnegan.

One CNF by Liza Olson

my secret is I’m now wearing Secret, while watching Men I consider how much longer I’ll present as one, and other trans thoughts

Okay so I know it’s just deodorant and a long way from full en femme all the time, but baby steps is what I’m thinking, and every time I catch a whiff of lavender instead of whatever cool rush is supposed to smell like, I feel like the change is tactile now, beyond mental, and about a year ago my egg cracked, nearly completely, but enough of the shell was left, I guess, that I went back to boymode after a work from home gig fell apart and I got a marketing job in a law firm, with a 401k and a dress code, and I remember taking that selfie in the dressing room of Target, my hair cut back short, no skirts in sight, no makeup, just a tasteful pullover, collared dress shirt, smart khakis, and I tried to smile but it was all twisted up and didn’t show right no matter how many times I retook the shot, and I put my beard back on, grew my facial hair too, put away Hedwig fantasies, Velvet Goldmine reveries and singalongs, took the train downtown for a view overlooking city hall from seven floors up, the same line I used to take before even the faintest of hairline cracks had appeared on the eggshell, when I thought that looking in the mirror and feeling the way I felt was normal, that I’d just put in my 45 or 50 or whatever it’d be and be done with it, imagine reincarnation, coming back as a woman, or at least not this, and that was back before I was sober, so I drank too much too often, vacillated between wanting to be my authentic self and wanting not to be here at all, sometimes both, but it’s been three years of sobriety now, and sometimes I wonder how it even is that I’m still here, or is it even me anymore, the same me at the bottom of the well that was those years, who could really say, but I left that law firm without a word of notice or a second thought, let my hair grow back out, shaved my face nice and clean, kicked a couple more pieces of eggshell before they could petrify completely, and last week I went to see Men, and I went with my nails painted and wings that could kill a man, and I knew going in that it’d be no big deal, and it wasn’t, but the tape in your head can sometimes be so loud and so old that you forget who originally recorded it, forget that you can press stop at any point, eject, yank at the Coca-Cola-colored ribbons till they’re a tangled mess of lost, inert audio, toss the whole thing out and let it burn in the sun, so that’s what I did, what I’m doing, and I can feel the last bits of eggshell coming loose now, ready to fall away, and this time they’ll be gone for good, and this me will be too, and I’m remembering now that a wave of the hand can be a goodbye or a hello, depending on perspective.


Liza Olson is the author of the novels Here’s Waldo, The Brother We Share, and Afterglow. A Best of the Net nominee, Best Small Fictions nominee, finalist for Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award, and 2021 Wigleaf longlister in and from Chicagoland, she’s been published in SmokeLong Quarterly, Cleaver, Pithead Chapel, and other fine places. One of her proudest achievements was getting to run (mac)ro(mic) for four incredible years. Find her online at or on social @lizaolsonbooks.