Two Poems by L. R. Bird


were i to subject my brain to confession the way i do to therapy, perhaps
i would begin & end with each of your names the way i know my 
name has also bookended the list of sins the confessor & i had
demanded of our bodies, so i am considering your conflicting
doctrine, & how little i know of you except what my hands
remember. i’ve been having dreams about you again. in
them i consented in your hometown, we ate local berries, 
i checked a state off my list. but instead i’m hollowed out 
in the most peculiar sense: filling someone else. i mean
i’m having a hard time not leaving (again). i’m eating
until we’re both crying. i’m sober until i’m not. 
my symptoms are more honest than i am: stress-
related paranoia ongoing feelings of emptiness 
impulsive behavior risky behavior success 
sabotaging behavior: most of the time before 
people know me the way i need them to, 
they G–gle me, & i mean they can: my mug-
shot(s) my legal name my lovers who oscillate 
between prose, who disappear vilified & 
are brought back to my mouth with docu-
mented [redacted] admissions. forgive me,
g_d of a war that was supposed to make
sense. you & someone you hate say 
y’all share the same origin myths so 
i don’t know if i believe in your bed-
room anymore. i watched you undo
the decorations. how you walked
out of yourself & into some-
one’s bad archetype. O, g_d
of giving up the punchline:
send someone else to 
hol[y/d] me. give me law
& liquor: a fifth of each:
with which to confess
where i hid the rest 
of the ________.



i name each ailment after a cryptid because i like the idea of my limbs given excuses for their magic acts: finally reasons for immobility: a defiant belief against my body’s traditional connotation: how i used to split night-pavement in combat boots: before i forgot how to hold my breath: i swam a mile every other day: now my nerves bulge: my hip disappears: a pain accused of being imagined: an improbable monster: there is no science to explain why my skin bloats: like that: as a child my spine was scrutinized for a scoliosis experiment: i expected to hold a booking number during my mugshot(s) i mean: let me blister into a joke but no, now, every doctor’s measurement feels like a driver’s license seance: pull whoever my bones belonged to before all this shit happened out of my phlemed-up throat and ask them to state their age and address for the camera: i promise i am still angry about how much childhood i lost to doctors’ disappointing hands and still, now, when i wake up surgery after surgery in only more debt not less pain: i can remember not being disabled the way i remember being happy– i’m not sure i could tell you— but i must have felt it: the root word of “cryptid” is “hidden”: so that’s what i call this invisibility: how last month the stairs didn’t matter and now i am crying: at the top of them separated from something i need, again: or an amorphous mythology: how can i expect anyone to believe me: amateur cryptozoologist of my own body: when i can’t tell you how i got here: when science can’t either: when all i know is one day i woke up knowing: something had gotten lost: inside of me–


L. R. Bird is a disabled transsexual cryptid from the Jersey Shore. As a slam poet they toured and competed internationally and hosted prelim/final stages and open mics. They have work in the 2017 Bettering American Poetry anthology and pieces from their most recent chapbook INVENTION OF THE MOUTH (Dream Pop Press, 2019) have been nominated for multiple Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. They want to hear about your favorite bridge.

Guest Editors

Issue #11 – The All-Fiction Issue – paparouna

Born and raised in Athens, Greece, paparouna currently resides in occupied Arapahoe and Cheyenne territory in so-called Colorado, USA, works in social and environmental justice education, writes queer speculative prose, translates Greek literature into English, and daydreams about life as a marine mammal. A 2018 Princeton Hellenic Translation Workshop and 2018-2020 Lighthouse Book Project participant, paparouna has been published in ProgenitorAsymptoteExchangesNew Poetry in TranslationDenver QuarterlyTimber, and The Thought Erotic.

Two Poems by Quinn Lui

alternate fifth colours of the rainbow

i wear the name you give me for / three years before it thins out threadbare / which is to say for three years    /    i let you call me a moonshard   /   a toxin-bright bloom   /   forktongued and lovely / poison-flowering snakeplant / jade slipped cold into a colourless throat / lined by ghosts with ink-stamped faces / smiling tight-lipped to hide the teeth / call me sovereign of little sorrows / time-lapse of ungrowth / call me anything / but a treasure again / i stole the jadestone from my name and / sold it for gold / melted it down into rivers / and like the drip of mountaintop snow / one day it will all be swallowed / by the ocean / all of its mouths opening and closing fishlike / around their own once-names / forgotten — 

ghost-town girl

bright                   in the way of cerussite: too soft
to be metal-touched. all flash 
& glimmer, saying goodbye
               once every year you’ve known her, 
the routine of the runaway act
                                 something safer to measure by
than a nebulous new year. don’t worry   
                                               what my hands will do.
in every story i’m the only one 
who winds up                  with an open throat.

one time a girl with signal-fire hair 
knelt over me on slick-glowing floor,
laced me back up 
                                 & promised to do it again 
long as i needed it. & next time 
her back was turned                     i asked someone
               to burn down the building.

                                             this is the damnation 
               of the rabbit-heart. i don’t know 
if those ever want anything more than to see 
the warmth of home                       last beyond 
your own meaning, to live 
                                             a little longer, to not 
freeze in the field        as the shadow of death  
falls from above. it’s not 
               that i think i had wings in the womb, 
or that they snapped off          at the first touch        
of this world’s air
                               but i should’ve come out something 
                                              that makes its home high 
instead of tied landbound, left 
lovesick for flight. 

don’t you dare give me to the ground. i’ll come back 
                just to tell you    
                                              you’ll never be forgiven.

Quinn Lui is a Chinese-Canadian student who has been described as 1) mostly made up of caffeine and bees and 2) dedicated to being a menace. Their work has appeared in Occulum, Synaesthesia Magazine, Okay Donkey, and elsewhere, and they are the author of the micro-chapbook teething season for new skin (L’Éphémère Review, 2018). You can find them @flowercryptid on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram, or sharing a fire escape with raccoons.

One Poem by R/B Mertz

I am watching her on the internet like an ex.

The famous white male poet at the poetry reading who during the first BLM Movement said there was nothing left to say said I should write more love poems, he said, That’s what Eileen is so good at, That’s what Adrienne was so good at

All the white men’s books stuck on the shelves of closed stores, coughing
Listen to the 
behind the paywalls of song,                                                                                                      sounds of the 
their voices dim                                                                                                                                                pages 
& dimmer—I’m listening to my                                                                                                                   pulp
                                                                                                                                                                 Of the

country                  cringe. Cringe
& scroll 

& forget where she got that [cotton garment] forget

If she ever really knew you
If you ever really knew her


R/B Mertz (thee/thou) is a trans/non-binary butch poet and artist. They wrote the memoir Burning Butch (Unnamed Press, 2022), the essay, “How Whiteness Kills God & Sprinkles Crack on the Body,” the foreword for John J. McNeill’s Freedom, Glorious Freedom: The Spiritual Journey for Gays, Lesbians, and Everyone Else, and many poems, including “(We all end up in) the CAN,” published by American Poetry Journal. Mertz taught writing in Pittsburgh for eleven years and was honored to be a finalist for City of Asylum’s 2020-21 Emerging Poet Laureate of Pittsburgh. On January 1, 2021, Mertz left the US for love, and they now reside in Toronto, Ontario, traditionally the territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples.