Some day we will home by KJ Cerankowski

KJ Cerankowski is a queer writer based in Cleveland, OH. His poetry and prose appear or are forthcoming in DIAGRAM, Pleiades, Gordon Square Review, and Sinister Wisdom, among others. He is the author of Suture: Trauma and Trans Becoming, a critical lyric memoir published by punctum books.

You Already Forgot by C. M. Green

So what is the future again? Every time I think I know, it comes, and then it isn’t the future anymore. It’s not stable, just like me.

I have six questions for you:

  1. What do you remember about year three?
  2. What do you remember about your favorite aunt?
  3. What do you remember about him—yeah, him, you know who I’m talking about.
  4. What do you remember about your thirty-second birthday? Do not tell me it hasn’t yet happened. Just tell me what you remember about it.
  5. What do you remember about the kitchen growing up?
  6. What do you remember about me?

Why bother with memory, when we’re thinking about the future? 

Let me tell you what I remember: I remember seeing my reflection in a doorway in a Church and calling myself a dyke in my head. I remember looking at David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust and wondering what, exactly, I wanted. I remember shoulder blades on older women. I remember getting married in a pale blue suit. I remember dying in a train because it seems like the most fashionable way to die.

I have legs. Two of them. Today I scrambled up the side of a mountain and they burned. Tomorrow I will scramble up the side of a mountain and they will burn. Do you hear me yet? Does your body hear me? Listen to your fingernails as they tap on the keys and ask them what they remember. What is memory to a fingernail? What is memory to you?

I don’t think I believe in the future, actually. Actually, I don’t think I believe in the future. Five minutes ago the screen I’m staring at was blank, and I remember that, but I don’t remember what I’m going to write next. 

I remember being a girl. I remember not being a girl. I remember trying on my dad’s suits for the first time and I remember chopping my hair off in a dorm bathroom. I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t think my gender is anything but memory. Echoes of ways I used to feel. Legs burning, mountains climbing mountains. Shoulder blades and Ziggy Stardust. Like flowers in a vase.

I don’t think I believe in the future, but the past hasn’t broken free yet. It’s trying to, and then I guess I won’t have a past to believe in, either. I’ve lost harder things than that. I’ve lost memories before.

 

C. M. Green (they/them) is a Boston-based writer and theater artist with a focus on history, memory, gender, and religion. Their work has been published in fifth wheel press, Bullshit Lit, and elsewhere. You can find their writing at catmaxinegreen.com, or follow them on Twitter @cmgreenery.

Illogical Propositions by Jade Wallace

when solutions are concessions 
to a hegemonic logic, nonsense 
may become a necessity 
I want to be a creature 
inscrutable to a computer 
1 w@nt to be a code so 1nconsistent 
that it’s nothing but 1ntuit1on


if a = a
and ~a = a
(because sometimes @ = a,
though others @ = @)
then there’s no way to know
what a or @ signify
and the only way to
sense their m3aning
is 2 throw two @pples into the air
knowing you will never
get them back


let’s pink slip the light fantastic 
slapdash off of every last 
matchmaker platform and 
incongrue their mim3tic 
magnet1c patterns 
let’s refuse to be fractions 
held together by multiple 
diffuse dependencies 
we’re a euplastic prec@ri@ 
one evolutionary step away 
from the prokaryote, having 
grown up in environments 
made for extremophiles


because if I = I
and ~ I = I
(for instance when 1 = I,
though not when 1 = 1)
then I becomes 1 and
1 becomes indivisible

 

Jade Wallace (they/them) is the reviews editor for CAROUSEL, co-founder of the collaborative writing entity MA|DE, and the author of the debut poetry collection Love Is A Place But You Cannot Live There (Guernica Editions 2023) and the collaborative poetry collection ZZOO (Palimpsest Press, 2025). Keep in touch: jadewallace.ca.

Memory Holds by Kwame Sound Daniels

in conversation with Makshya Tolbert’s Becoming Water in Emergence Magazine

Water was always something I was immersed in. Water held me. Water was me. A bathtub the shape of the human body. In the body, a small ocean.. 

Water holds memory. I know that. I can feel it in the automatic way my muscles expand and contract when I dice garlic, when, even after becoming disabled, I know instinctively how much coriander goes into lentil soup. Water knows. I know. It’s in my mouth, my veins, my eyes.

Brains are elastic because they are water. Water holds memory. The brain cradles that memory. The brain tends to it. Sometimes, if the memory is too much for the water to hold, the brain does not hold it. The brain cannot contain it. But my brain has always held too much. There hasn’t been enough room for me to be. The memory is all that there is.

I am memory because I am water. I am a composite being of reactions. That is all knowledge is: memory and reaction. Water is flexible. The brain is elastic. If you set your finger upon the surface of a pond, it will ripple until the water remembers the shape of your finger, and then it is like it has always known your finger, it has always been that your finger was there. That is because water knows itself. /

Water is flexible. It settles where it must. It finds places to fill naturally. It has a course. Toni Morrison spoke about the way the Mississippi river flooded. Water remembered where it always was, and so naturally tried to return. My people are made of water. We are always trying to return. In Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, the protagonist flies. That is because he is made of water. He rises with the clouds. Despite how he fucked up, he belonged in the firmament where the ancestors escaped. My people belong in the atmosphere, refracting light through our water droplets, melding together and coming apart and floating and being carried —-weightless. We deserve to not have to carry this weight. But water holds memory. So it will always be with us no matter how much the wind carries us.

Sometimes, our hurt is like a pressure-cooker. The water boils and builds until the memory is locked inside us, until we are bursting with the heat, until we cook and cook and only find release in outbursts. That is how my water was. My water would boil. I would burst. I would scream. My heat was hurtful. I burned to touch. Others burned me when I was touched. That is how it feels to be held, even now. Because my water remembers the heat.

My people drowned in the Atlantic. The Atlantic carried my people. The Atlantic remembers us. We are in the water until the end of the earth. We are carried in the ocean’s denizens, and the ocean’s denizens are consumed. How many of my ancestors have I eaten? How much does my body remember of their pain? Water holds memory. My people know me. My body knows my people. Maybe this is why I feel bugs in my skin: my water remembers their infestations. I am being haunted by my ancestors’ water. I no longer eat fish.

I feel not-quite-here. I feel empty. I feel full. My water holds too much. My water doesn’t have room for me. I keep thinking of the way I can’t think when I’m like this. Like I’m out of my body. Like I am a cloud and my skin is transvective. When my hands touch something it’s like an intrusion, and they have to adjust before they remember what touch is. My hands on my own skin burn. That is because my water remembers the heat. 

Sometimes, the water gets to be too much. The dragging of my own nails across my skin burns. But I itch. Because my skin won’t retain the water. Because the water gets to be too much. Because the water holds memory and my brain won’t forget. I remember everything except sound. I cannot retain sounds. Water doesn’t hold sound well. To remember a song I have to listen to it over and over again until the ripples in my water remember the rippling. I remember everything else. Everything.

I remember what it was like to be in love. I had never felt anything like it before. It was like being at the bottom of the ocean and knowing the water around me would protect me just as easily as it could crush me. It was like all the sound in the world was muted. My feelings ran deep. Undisturbed. They ran warm and cold. And then they didn’t run at all. My feelings sat there, inside my depths, until the water dissolved them. Because my water remembered all the hurts that came with feeling. And there was more hurt that my water could hold than love. It fell out of me, that love. It drained away. And I was left feeling like I had awoken from a dream. But I remember what it was like, to be in love. I’m not sure my water will ever have room to carry that feeling again.

But I love my people. My people-in-the-water. My lost family. I can’t not love them. Because my water knows their water — listen! Do you hear that? My water is moving. It’s too full to slosh. But you can hear the vibrations, can’t you? Can’t you?

Water holds memory. Water holds me. I never drink enough water. I think that’s because I have too much. I salivate so easily. If I hold my mouth open it drips. It falls from me. No matter how little water I’ve drank. I think I am an endless well of water. It’s all the memory I can’t talk about trying to escape.

Listen. I know what you’re thinking. How can you remember everything? But I can. I remember my birth mother’s arms around me. I remember the first night I had robitussin. I remember when another child irrevocably changed the course of my life, made too much memory for my water to hold, even then. I remember the floor was damp. It was a grimy bathroom. I remember. My water knows it. My body knows it. That’s why I am a cloud in a shirt. That’s why I float away. Because I am trying to return. And I want the wind to carry me.

 

Kwame Sound Daniels is a traditional and fiber artist based out of Maryland. Xe are an Anaphora Arts Residency Fellow and an MFA candidate for Vermont College of Fine Arts. Xir first collection of poetry, Light Spun, was published in 2022 with Perennial Press. Xir second book, the pause and the breath, was on Lambda Literary’s Most Anticipated for January and came out in 2023 with Atmosphere Press. Kwame learns plant medicine, paints, and makes what can tentatively be called potions in xir spare time.

Germ Plasm by Brody Parrish Craig

Hand sanitize my image in the bright screen of yr phone

X: Are you up?? Manic again??
Y: I just want to know yr ok
Z: How is it that you do that thing with your tongue??

Take the laces out my bookbind. Note the taste asymmetry.

A floral note of weeds in every garden.

Guard the door:                 [closed-inclosed-mouth-closedin-shutclosed]

Parenthetical bracket jam of doubt & oven

Catch the door on fire

                                                               When the smoke gets in your eyes, the toast will burn,

CHEERS TO YOUR REMEDY!

I toasted every specimen, poured out another storm, a cup, a bralette for infectious coin of mirror

in my pocket—turned out, empty, house of straws & shoe lace cut

Another empty metaphor for house: I saw the body burst.

Glass ceiling in the microscopic hand. Hand me down letters.

Dear sir, you owe us $3000 after copay for your jailing fee. Please write the insurance off with my left hand,

A DSM approaches you upon the sidewalk. When you cross the street, it’s god in your left shin

A crick and groan.

Another day we wasted on the hospital for dinner.

In the cafeteria, I flail another brand: queer coded miracle.

A tampon without strings is not a cost, is not a spectacle.

A body with germ plasm in the brand. A little tag inside the sweater itch.

A skill cell breeding skin cell in the cells and cellulite of hospital.

A fat thigh on the left eye in the drain, another toothpaste that I dreamed of.

The little cupped shampoo under your hand, a cheap pill bottle.

Take my body breaking off this land, another dandy root.

I took you up to every kitchen counter—tasteless, water comes.

Drink drank drunk as fuck along the river, I am swimming in
the days & hours coating every strand. A hairy root.

When I burn the bread like straw, the names come down on me like rain.
A Rumplestiltskin slurs along the current, names the shimmer.

Every orb you wept into the second hand—a tiny specimen.

A tearjerk of a film is not a scummy manifesto.

I taste the germ & plasm in my brand, an off beat miracle.

I know my body as a body once the lightswitchmoth.

When lightswitchoff, I am a lights out check along the door jamb.

Every hinge as color coded as my mouth. This asterisk.

An aster wrist to taste the constellations.

Star stuck to assigned, we meant the risk. We knew it well.

Anomaly of batter in the brain, a second miracle.

A Cake somebody left into the storm, a disco hymn & drum.

My ear is never listening for breakfast—only specimen.

An insect on the windowsill & tongue, a bug leaked in the skin, a transmitter & transplant of the ward-theward-theward

The Word. The Ward. The Wyrd.

WYRD?? ARE YOU OK??? TEXT ME BACK ASAP!!

I am writing, mother.

I am writing out the history of words, of cheap bait articles.

I click the smoke screen open with my tongue, I pop one button off.

My collar melts to candy in the glass of every church window.

A picture show of Jesus on the merry-go-round ride.
Mother Mary was a horse beat to the hoofs with every vacant inn.

A vacancy behind my click bait eyes. A eunuch’s burst.

I cut my body off mid sentence for the word, another label’s scrap.

I fed the dog my business in the mirror, caught a violent charge.

I unleashed each electron in my hand—nobody talked, just static.

A static image of another man, another woman, GIRL!

I know you didn’t say that over dinner.

Who gave you the right?

The upbringing of clavicle since birth, another bone to pick>>>>>>>

I less than three the trinity of verse, emoji’s fire risk.

I dropped a selfie in someone’s night stand. I break the curse words off.

I star the passage from my mouth that runs into the atmosphere.

I folded every heaven in my hand. A ginsberg’s angel dust.

A powdered sugar sentiment of south along the café’s crumb.

Do you know just what it means to leave like us? A turn the beat around.

A locomotive running in my hand, a train of thought announced
another train of stationary pad—a pen to write along.

A black ink in the shimmer in my figure of my burn & which
will I become from writing down

A spell of articles

Another omen rooting through the tongue

To find a cell in there

No sound alike the cover of a song

Another bedframe off

I taste the objectivity of mirror in the swarm

I taste the gentle kindness of the river in my mouth

A spit wad for the teacher on my tongue

I told you off again

And off again, I flicked another spite. Another sprite. A word

with you & you, the nameless vers—the unknown fire risk—

Germ plasm is my gender & my brand.

 

Brody Parrish Craig (they/them) is the author of the chapbook Boyish (Omnidawn 2021) and edited TWANG, a regional anthology of TGNC+ creators in the south/midwest. Their first book, The Patient is an Unreliable Historian, is forthcoming from Omnidawn Publishing in 2024.

QUIZ: What’s your 21st century Seattle name? by Aaneoo )(

As trans people, we have long been known for our distinctive, self-selected names. But until last week, we had no idea just how far back this tradition went. In their new book, Tales from a Lost City, a team of archaeologists from the Coastal School describe what they have learned from a decade of studying remnants of an ancient city. At first, the sunken site, located about ten miles off the coast of Lupine, was simply termed #01053. More recently, the team has discovered the city was once known as Seattle. 

The book’s third chapter is dedicated to the stories of transgender residents. Merging conclusions drawn from classical transgender studies with new information gleaned from notes taken during Seattle meetings, scholar Nimelua +@ gives new life to the struggles and joys experienced by the attendees. You can order or download Tales from a Lost City at your nearest salon. But, before you dive in, you may want to prepare yourself for some of the… unique names used by our Seattle ancestors. Just think, if you had lived way back when, you probably would have called yourself something equally ridiculous. Find out which moniker would have suited you best using this handy quiz! 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    1. When invited to a party at the community pontoon, how do you respond?
      1. Your leaky shoe excuse
      2. “The feeling is natural—to want what we can’t have”
      3. “I haven’t forgotten my special sailor hat ;)”
      4. “The sea spills its intimacy upon each and every shore”

         

    2. Which best describes your social life during Aquaponics Internship?
      1. Though friendship may outlast a tomato, a tomato can be eaten
      2. Harvests leave the herb garden, but secrets stay 
      3. The smell of fish food still turns me on
      4. I’m as gay as a summer day is long

         

    3. Your roommate likes to sleep with the floorlights turned to green. You prefer them pink. How do you navigate the disagreement? 
      1. Every night a masquerade
      2. We step our dueling dance
      3. In sharing we hold together pleasure
      4. In balance, the perpetual risk of a fall

         

    4. The insect catcher at your area market is overcharging you for mealworm meal. What do you do?
      1. Absence is a slippery shape with no sides
      2. A razor with no edge
      3. A lesson learned well is never a lesson learned once
      4. The teacher’s hand spells its own audacity

         

    5. If selected for space training, how would you use the opportunity?
      1. Dreaming of distance
      2. My skull light on my spine
      3. Such a terrestrial pleasure
      4. Connoting up with divine

         

    6. Say you had a night alone in your podlon at age seventeen. How would you spend the time?
      1. I rely upon my treatise of niceties 
      2. The pages consolingly quilted
      3. To soak a spill or spark a fire
      4. Nature didn’t intend shit

     

  1. How to convert your answers to points: 
                 a=1
                 b=2
                 c=3
                 d=4

    Total points for questions 1 and 2: ______. Circle LOW for 4 or lower. HIGH for 5 or higher.

    Total points for questions 3 and 4: ______. Circle LOW for 4 or lower. HIGH for 5 or higher.

    Total points for questions 5 and 6: ______. Circle LOW for 4 or lower. HIGH for 5 or higher.

    YOUR RESULTS:

    LowLowLow: You’re a veritable Kat! Always one to tag along when asked, you rarely behave in an expected or socially acceptable manner. Put in the context of a 21st century university student, for example, you often spent afternoons at raging backyard parties surrounded by your classmates. While your peers chugged warm, tasteless alcohol as part of their masochistic games, you sipped at yours as you turned the pages of Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus, not because it was assigned reading (you rarely completed any of that junk), but because it personally, and spiritually, interested you.

    LLH: Hi, Kai! You haven’t met many people in your town, but a lot of people seem to know about you. Back in your 21st century life, you didn’t typically spend your free evenings hanging out with your small group of friends. Instead, when 11:00pm struck, you left your house fueled only by caffeine and a bowl of dry cereal. You rode transport across town, listening for the club that was playing their music the loudest. When you found it, you flirted your way inside without paying, wiggled to the center of the dance floor, closed your eyes, and gave yourself up to the bass. You never wondered who was watching, or whose hips were grinding against yours. 

    LHL: You’re certainly a River! A maker and shaker, within the comforts of your own head, that is. During your 21st century existence, your most vivid dream had you working as an airplane pilot, experiencing a rush of blood to the head as you pointed the nose of the propeller plane into the sky for takeoff. That morning, you brewed your tea as you watched your neighbor weed the garden. Then, you sat down to research how to acquire a pilot’s license. But the license wasn’t for you. No, your stomach could hardly stand being a passenger on a large commercial jet. You were a songwriter working on a concept album, and the narrator of your in-progress song was going to make a great pilot.

    LHH: In this case, your name is Case! You love to dig your fingers into a new project, don’t you? In the 21st century, you could’ve been a mechanical engineer with a hankering for a private woodshop. But your home didn’t have a garage, or much of a yard either. You took to using the front stoop, sawing and sanding away until the entrance had been blocked with wood scraps and sawdust. Your entire household switched to using the back entrance until your roommate’s date took it upon themself to give you a lesson on responsibility. After that, you dutifully swept up after each session, though you couldn’t help from continuing to make loud noises at odd hours.

    HHH: Hello, Ash. Nice to meet you! Sorry to say that in the 21st century, you were one of the least capable pillow talkers alive. It’s not even that you were a poor conversationalist. No, the simple fact is you fell asleep before your head hit the pillow, no matter who was in bed with you. You spent your days throwing your energy in so many directions—volunteering to weed and water your neighbor’s entire vegetable garden, painting unauthorized forest murals on abandoned train cars, burning down the dance floor (as they used to say)—that by the end of the day your body couldn’t bear to wait any longer to recharge. 

    HHL: Good to know you, Fox! If your friends were honest, they’d tell us they fear and love you in equal measure. In way-back-when Seattle, you dated a lovely, though passive, partner with a woodworker for a roommate. This person even had the gall to set up shop right outside the front door. The sawdust itching at your ankles was bad enough, but when the entrance became entirely blocked, you had no choice but to intervene. One afternoon, you walked up the porch steps, unplugged the table saw, grabbed the plank from the woodworker’s hands, and snapped it in half over your knee. You tossed the halves down onto the sidewalk without saying a word. The next time you came over, the front entrance was clear. 

    HLH: You’re no one but Dylan! And you just want everyone to have a good time, often to your own detriment. In one infamous (at least to you and your therapist) example, your 21st century alter-ego spotted an isolated individual at a summer party. You were about four beverages deep, yet you stepped aside from the game you’d been playing to approach the stranger. You walked just close enough to make out the title of the book they were reading, then veered away to acquire some relevant information from the Web. Though the book was of a dense philosophical sort and you were a math major, you weren’t deterred. Five minutes of researching later, you sat down beside the stranger on the lawn chair and asked why 999 plateaus wasn’t enough. 

    HLL: Hey, Maddie! As your friends’ favorite confidant, you have access to rare and valuable knowledge. In 21st century Seattle, you had dated everyone in the trans scene, whether personally or vicariously. One night, your friend divulged he was planning to reveal his feelings to his crush, who you soon deduced was none other than the Extrema Ballerina, known for their years of sweaty solo club dancing. This same dancer had spent four years shacking up with your best friend, and there was no end to the scintillating sexual stories you had heard. Your poor enamored friend, the ingenue, couldn’t know what he was in for. And yet, isn’t the mark of a truly great confidant is knowing when to keep one’s mouth shut?

 

Alix Perry is a trans writer living in Western Oregon. Their work has been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and can be found in Kissing Dynamite, The B’K, Rejection Letters, and elsewhere. Their chapbook, Tomatoes Beverly, is due out in May 2024. More at alixperrywriting.com.

Promised Land by Min Straussman

The thing is, I expected to start at the beginning and go to the end, but that wasn’t the way it worked out at all. As it happened, I woke up under a bush about a third of the way through events. The inciting incident was over. How had I arrived at this point in the timeline?

The desert stretched out for miles in every direction. I stood up, brushed myself off, and looked for the future. I stared off into the distance, thinking maybe I would find it past the horizon. I had forgotten that the future is simply a conjugation of being.

I had read stories of my mythical ancestors wandering the desert along time, but I didn’t expect that I would wind up there myself. I had believed this sort of thing was behind us—the excess of hours, the sand scrubbing everything smooth, the hermaphroditic flowers (Tamarix gallica) falling from the sky at regular intervals. Manna sounds an awful lot like “man up”.

I vagabonded, peering at the few birds flying overhead to see if their auguries were good.

One morning, splayed out on the sand dune, gasping for breath, I realized what it was that held me there—the misconception that one goes ahead to the future. Bearded vultures circled while the sun hit me with a slow, steady rhythm. The star and the sand had much to say to one another. I screamed at the rocks, “The future is only a movement toward existence!”

The cries of a hoopoe and a crow cracked the silence from the west. A woodpecker and a magpie echoed from the east. Thus, the word went out, and I went for a walk, tracking the signs. I found the muddy, looping creeks and followed them to the past, to the present, and back again, as more birds gathered overhead.

I think I almost see the outline of the future. Mirage or not, the being that is to come shimmers in the heat, waves.

Now, I throw out chicken feed and watch the hens dance so hard grass cuttings fall to the ground in sheaves. I push my sandals into hot sand. It’s only a matter of time.

Min Straussman is an essayist, poet, translator, and educator living in Paris. Since 2017, he has been a regular contributor to Dictionary[dot]com where he writes about etymology and language. His work has also been published in Impossible Worlds, Hey Alma, and beestung, and he has a book forthcoming on Paris, Walter Benjamin, and the connections between kabbalah and the urban environment. He is fascinated by the fragmented, the esoteric, and all things related to his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can find his work at mintherose.com or on Twitter @mintherose.

Heat Stroke in Our Partner’s Arms by Proginoskes

for Moon

Smoke filled the sky. Heat waves 
in the middle of October in Oakland, California. The light was volcanic-ash-orange 
all day. Indoors, windows closed, the temperature was rising. 
100+ degrees. The smell of mold and decaying carpet 
suffocating. We fade out of consciousness, overtaken by heat sickness. You bring 
drip wet scarves. Ice packs. Box fans.

How long did you watch 
our comatose body? Why didn’t you call 
for an ambulance? Did you know we would run 
from that coffin trap if we could? How many times 
have you sat with us? Our personal Emergency Room 

partner. You are a medicine cabinet bursting with rescue 
remedies. Always equipped with high potency Cannabis oil, the only 
anti-seizure medicine we could access. You watched EMT’s 
wrench our locked shoulder to pick us up after an hour of convulsing. 
You vowed to keep us 

safer. We look to you because you are a fortress. Our hide-out
in the drought. You are the fire retardant dropped from the bosom 
of an airplane. We were a beetle colony and you a forest of evergreen trees. 
We gave you our body and you kept us here, even when it cost 
your ability to walk. Remember how we raced our two Jazzy powered 
wheelchairs; yours named Satan and ours the Devil?

Your sweet head was a dandelion 
puff in our wind. You lost your birds-nest sense 
of self to the pressure of caregiving. 
Your broad hands trembled with burdens the size of planets. You risked it all 
to wrap around our cactus soul and anchor us in the flash flood. 

Without you 
we became a poor wilted flower shop.
Motionless on the floor. On the bed. At the park. 
Even in the coolness of the closet where we could capture the night 
if we didn’t open the door. Our body 
taken by fatigue or heat or seizures. We collapsed, 

a claustrophobic diamond mine breaking. Searching for your rescue.
Our land lady wouldn’t allow 
the freedom of an air conditioner. The neurologist wouldn’t 
prescribe anti-seizure medicine. No one else 
would house us. You and us without any chosen 
family. No respite. Not a moment away from the horror of 
medical emergencies.

You stuck by us. Even when we didn’t want your partnership.
We hid between the dresses on the hangers. Hated you when you pulled us 
away from our shallow breathing, high blood pressure, pulsing fever, 
out-of-body swimming towards the end. We dropped 
all of our petals. And because of you we had to find a way 

to bloom again. We couldn’t breathe until the sun went 
down. Depression refused to levitate 
from our heart. Defeat was knocking 
on our suicidal soul but we couldn’t cross the threshold. We crumbled 
around our intestines, ashamed of our coming-back to consciousness. 

Please leave us. Awareness is a double edged 
butterknife. We want to vomit up our 
dependency and get away from your electrical outlets. We’ll punch the alarm 
out of our joint sockets alone. Heavy-hearted,
we haunt just outside of a living room relationship. We have this conviction 
that we must fake we’re stronger in order to be your family member.

You were responsible for our food and hygiene. You made 
all our phone calls. We would brainfog out and yell
at you for reasons we forget. We still run 
every decision by your exhausted brain. Can’t get through a day 
without looking to you for orientation. 

Constant Moon. 
Soothe us like the perspiration on the cup of Christ. Calm.
Give us rest. Just like the ice packs 
you got from the freezer. Lay them on our dying body. 
Turn back the hands of heat.
You say “Not today. Not my baby. Not while I have ice left in my chest 

freezer.” You stay like a hive of honey bees.
Close to your chosen Love with those open wings.

You regulate the happiness in our chest cavity.
You, pendulum swinging relief. You pulled our panic into the water
like Jesus calmed the storm and saved his 12 lovers.
You gave us a route to life. Your compassion 
hugs our cheekbones. You poured into us, Love.

Love, made from ice 
packs, held our sweaty hands. Prevented suffocation of heat. Rubbed 
cannabis oil on the soles of our feet, you stopped 
hundreds of seizures. Stopped the reach of all our chronic 
conditions. Covered the house with foraged 
bouquets when we couldn’t go outside. Filled our life 
with kisses and “I love you” 

even when we couldn’t answer back. Gave us the whole bedroom 
when we couldn’t love you back. Brought us hand-carved 
fruit platters and home-stewed curries when we couldn’t look 
you in your spirograph planetary nebula eyes. 

Said goodbye to us 
with rivers of tears. We moved away for better 
medical care and a solitary Seattle studio. Even now 
we call each other every day. You fly here 
every time we need your full moon in our bed. Is distance 
what brought us back together, Love? Filled
our bosom with heart-shaped boxes of surprise-filled 
chocolates. All for you. We are bursting with love that surpasses 
titles. We choose you, Love, for our forever family. 

 

Proginoskes (they/them, we/us) is a Disabled White Trans Nonbinary poet and fiction writer based in Seattle. They are also a Dissociative Identity System. They enjoy being outside and spending time with their two dogs, one cat, and three snakes. This poem was created at a workshop taught by Megan Falley called Poems That Don’t Suck.

Interview with a Protozoan by Vartouhi Harootunian

Can you speak?

Can I pretend?

only if you do it kindly

Tell me about your childhood 

the silvery lining between living muscles pulled taught and tighter
and tighter
and just as it comes apart 

it reflects your face like that
except it’s your mother 

Do you love your mother? 

i am my mother 

Do you hate your mother? 

there is a softness in it rotten, then sweet 

Tell me about your political views 

like anyone else, really
i am an honest american
the blossoming democracy of cause and effect and its feuding monarchies 

Does it hurt when you die? 

i beg your pardon? 

When we step on you? 

Harootunian 5 

oh, death
the smaller you get
the more the grass looks like the trees the more the blue looks like the sky death is so far above 

there is a softness in it
bubbles on the wind through a child’s wand splitting and merging and popping
drifting off
like that
except it’s your mother
does it hurt when You die? 

oh
have You done it before? 

I’m not sure 

then pretend like me 

There is a softness in it 

sleep, then sunrise

 

Vartouhi Harootunian (they/them) is a nonbinary librarian living in the American southeast. Their work is upcoming in Screen Door Review, Dear Politicians, and appears in other publications. They enjoy writing about humans, nonhumans, and the weird tragedies that happen in the borderlands between the two.