Rachael Lin Wheeler

in response to being told me to take up more space

i am v suspicious  of the sky  /  as i am of many things
/ bc i hate feeling / as small as i really am / or think i
am / which is why i first feel the impulse / to ask for
forgiveness / & then hide anytime / i speak for more
than 2 minutes straight / at a time                                

i’ve been trying to apologize / less after my friend
scolded me / for apologizing / too much so i listened
/ to Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” / from 1982
for inspiration / it didn’t rlly work                      

she also scolded me / for thanking everyone / “an
unnecessary amount of times” / though i fought back
/ on that bc i’m willing / to embarrass myself / if
there’s any chance i can keep people / from believing
they go unnoticed                      

though ya ig sometimes such noticing / is
counterproductive / like when i noticed / that one
white girl’s room freshener / made the rest of the
apartment smell like a smoothie / shop in a mall /
which tbh  /  could  have  been what she was  /  going
for  /  at one  point she wanted  to buy  /  silver  disco
balls to put next to her / unironic live laugh love sign /
ngl she kinda scares me                                   

personally my best / purchase all season / has been
that $7.00 mug i found / at Target / it reads my favorite
people  call  me  grandma
 /  &  i  immediately  wanted  to share it / w an old friend / except i can’t / do that rn
or maybe / for a long time bc we’re / not talking / so
i  wallowed  /  in my  vanilla chamomile tea  /  & only
sorta felt better                                  

idk  how to keep  /  from hurting  the people i love or
try  /  to love & or how to keep them  /  from leaving
me / hurt / & ya ik i probably won’t / solve that any
time soon / or ever / i’m sorry                      

ik ik sometimes u have to hide / bc there r no other
options  /  but  there  r  /  times  when  u  don’t  /  so
maybe we can / find each other there                      


preliminary notes for an essay whose conclusion still feels out of reach


after sifting through all these european philosophy books in the stacks, all i can really think abt is how i really want to learn french, but that’s only partly b/c of the tea between sartre & de beauvoir & mostly b/c of my need to watch portrait of a lady  on fire w/o the subtitles,

though i could probably already do that now given the number of times i’ve seen it (which, thus far, has always been at some strange & sleepless hour after midnight)—


movies i have never seen that i guess i’m supposed to have seen by now: titanic & grease & mamma mia & when harry met sally & pretty in pink & the notebook & say anything &

don’t worry, i’ve been berated for this already.   


i have too much of a god complex for that

someone i passed on a walkway said one friday night & tbh i was jealous.

the closest i’ve ever come to feeling anything near holy is whenever my body seems to flee from me & blur into the background, which is always everywhere around me anywhere i go.  

one time i heard my mother say goodnight, honey but it turns out she was talking to the cat & not me before closing her door 

& maybe that’s the reason my cat has a god complex & maybe i can learn from her?


yes it was céline sciamma who brought me this close to taking a class on media until i remembered film bros exist, which was enough to make me change my mind. 

i don’t regret it. i don’t need cishet white boys

—who worship like, idk, the godfather (according to the google search “what do film bros like??”)—

to tell me the politics of why queer love stories always end in devastation. 


“The theory of disidentification that I am offering is meant to contribute to an understanding of the ways in which queers of color identify with ethnos or queerness despite the phobic charges in both fields,” writes josé muñoz. 

how to resist interrogating the philosophy of my desire and not my desire itself.  


at cvs, i saw a box of goldfish with its motto, the snack that smiles back, & isn’t that kind of ominous 

& also maybe that gestures toward something wrong w/ society b/c the fish is smiling even though he’s abt to die 

& haven’t we all smiled when we didn’t want to, “we” here being, especially, people of color & gender-marginalized people & queer people 

& also the never-ending apocalypse (i.e. the world) is absurd & smiling, sometimes, is easier,

& long story short i didn’t buy the goldfish but i did realize how badly i needed to take a nap.


the longer the body is left illegible to others, the longer the body is rendered illegible to the self 

& it’s not exactly that i want my body to be legible but sometimes maybe it would be nice 

if to understand could mean something more than to define

tell me, someone, what it means to read the body &/or control how it is read using a method more adjacent to desire than desperation. tell me whether they are even different after all. 



Rachael Lin Wheeler is a writer who works at the rupture points of genre and discipline. Currently a student at Brown University, their work appears or is forthcoming in Waxwing, The Journal, Southern Humanities Review, wildness, The West Review, Lantern Review, Foglifter, and Gigantic Sequins, among others. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, finalist for Tinderbox Poetry Journal’s Brett Elizabeth Jenkins and Majda Gama Editors’ Prizes, and recipient of the Howard Nemerov Writing Scholarship, RL is an editorial assistant and poetry reader for Split Lip Magazine. Find them on Twitter @rlwheeler_ or at rachaellinwheeler.com.