Kenji C. Liu

Descending, throttle early, savagely

frankenpo1 (for Prince)2

He’s a beautiful bird again. Desperately funk, tornado gorgeous, heart thick with furious glide,
and me his dessert. A conspiring body of heavy love, a whole dusk package. He sits and
moistens, a ripeness in him, black as sobs. Glisten he rises, a burning of bites and roses. A
flushed, trembling hollow across his lush. See his national pouty-lip, a skin-tight, slightly welling
back door swinging all piano wide. His bikini simmers, his cheeks jump, honey face staring
wickedly over lustrous flower shoulder. He crushes my diamonds, stains my quiver on the spot. I
muzzle his leopard face. The night furrows its savage, purple coat. Waters my sleeping
moonlight Cadillac. Drowning looks like light, a meaningless swim. Here, lustrous racked
chrome, passport of spandex lips. His pompadour bird, plunging into my wild Minnetonka.

Empire strikes3


Citizens of the civilized galaxy, on this day we mark a transition. Billions of helpless
factors wind us into blinding, black-gloved sparks. The pain constantly beautiful,
omnipotence ripped by a giant jedi abyss. Great ears of the people stolen, deathly half
governors, and bureaucracy, that unstoppable depletion. Nation of my gracious
physiognomy, once we prospered entire, every fiction time! Our last infrastructure
collapses black, we sink wicked, a feeble station, infused by a never-ending crawl. Our
regions are semi-darkness, with scarred and weak edges, groans along our peace
borders, ripped, scattered, dimly white. Against the reaped verdict, stormtroopers ignite,
my dark hood star attacks, lord I. Your unbearable boy emperor—my force fictitious
flashes out, unstoppable bleed. My carnage grown from exaggerated disrepair. Seven-
foot-tall in the well of a mob. Towards a cold room, our body staggers.

Letter to Chow Mo-­wan4


Dear Mr. Chow,

Cherished seed. A sesame kiss, and you mend the distance between us. That deep
dissonance. When will our smoke overlap again なの? Together we are a pair of lonely
questions, differentiated, two who whisper open a category. Plural, argus-eyed. Divination is a
meaningful mesh. We call us home, multi-capillaried. We promise a beautiful object. A rare
orientation わね

Unthreatened can still be afraid. No injury is respectful. This is because the caress is not a
simple stroking; it is a shaping. I am obsessed with the feeling of a house on fire. Do you agree
なの? I’m never going to end in a field of reason. Truth can’t go in the gaps. We are fool things
わよ, precisely alive, mountainous.

1frankenpo [frangkuh n-poh]
1. an invented poetic form

to create a new poetic text by collecting, disaggregating, randomizing, rearranging, recombining, erasing, and
reanimating one or more chosen bodies of text, for the purpose of divining or revealing new meanings often at odds
with the original texts

2“Descending, throttle early, savagely” is a frankenpo of the screenplay of Purple Rain (1984).

“Letter to Chow Mo-wan” is a frankenpo of screenplay for In the Mood for Love + transcription of “Yumeji’s Theme” by Shigeru Umebayashi from the same film + Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s Greatest Hits (梁 朝偉精選) + a quote from Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick. Uses “feminine” gendered Japanese sentence endings.

3“Empire strikes” is a frankenpo of Emperor Palpatine’s speech to the Galactic Senate (Star Wars Ep 3 – Revenge of the Sith) + POTUS 45’s inaugural speech + selected dialogue involving the Emperor from Star Wars Ep 4-6.    

Frankenpo of screenplay for In the Mood for Love + transcription of “Yumeji’s Theme” by Shigeru Umebayashi from the same film + Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s Greatest Hits (梁朝偉精選) + a quotes from Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick. Uses “feminine” gendered Japanese sentence endings

June 26, 2015. Kundiman retreat at Fordham University, Bronx NY. Photoggraphy Margarita Corporan

Kenji C. Liu (劉謙司) is author of Map of an Onion, national winner of the 2015 Hillary Gravendyk Poetry Prize. His poetry is in American Poetry Review, Action Yes!, Split This Rock’s poem of the week series, several anthologies, and two chapbooks, Craters: A Field Guide (2017) and You Left Without Your Shoes (2009). A Kundiman fellow and an alumnus of VONA/Voices, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and the Community of Writers, he lives in Los Angeles. @kenjicliu.

Trish Salah


We are understandably afraid of blank screens.
It’s almost too much time to hide out, too early given over.

Never comprehensive, we fail our tests, with purpose
futures’ pawn, and wailing we just let slide.

Luring you from bed, into love words, onion bread,
Hungarian salami, bossa nova, all fingers to dawn.

You’d dress me in mesh and lace, I’d dress you
is the problem. What kind of girl does that?

So eager to throw you down, bitch you out.
Near these old books; on the phone what I won’t do.

Poured country pie, poured midnight’s girth
I’m thickened, pregnant or smoldering…

Dust is poor lacquer, but about my desk, endless piles
planted heaps of business cards, receipts, family photos.

Dragging Badly Behind


Did I censure you? Well worn, the defense of in love.
Please could I give it again? Not the gift, the quiet’s bite.

Like water is higher in this zone and warmer now than forecast.
Didn’t notice? Dragged around, too many are royal eating out.

Do you ever think you might want escape? would live with carpets?
employable thoughts? wretched punctures in sounds, cartoon

crackly edges of the thing pulled from how you feel, barely
audible? Earn the urge to throw up, clench teeth.

Menacing, she’s in the light’s withdrawal. Medicated
wants a breakfast, to extract payback or playback

when separated from their parents, children
who were raised by ear, dirtbags, tied up for years.

In prison, in their country of white granite between
bottom and sky, face stricken true from the world.

Chirp: it is not a fair thing. What is a fair thing?
Just know if I sounded like a hotel, I was. You decide

dragging isn’t over the hump. Stolen thing about
being in love likes to have stirred before

hounding the repetition. Placed on the mat, being
readies you forlorn into fall.

Childhood’s rushes stall all about my analysis
as if placed on the royal ride, just so.

Bobby pinning lights to what happened, green
shadows across someone else’s library steps.  

At night, its bunk, faint impressions of all night
oil stains, flaked skin and hairs, oils, snot and found.

Most people aren’t white, but in certain lights
some of us utmost, skin olive crepe or crayon in—

Not too shabby, lanky black haired buyer, funerary
mood, whipping about what you’ll do,

interviews with past selves, its imposters, heirs
and cheats. Feign wishes easily put down

fastened feet on land no more. Tried out,
without solace the night before, it’s in fires.


Sail ferries are lithesome, easily disdained
how sea rocks are patient, knowing worn slick.

Time plateaus, when we loved and others,
fleeting hinged together words for things,

mannered dis-interruptions, or not even
screens, glimpse forecast form from


 (i just miss oceans do you do you?
If i didn’t live near         you
choose! No, you! Would i would you just
      fault at sex again lend body
or two   what again what races
feeling  were
                                             a wheat shaft  in a red field taken

free times   holding hands  
                                                               later you narrate it at a dinner party like a story

i didn’t  at sex again   my father’s
“I felt” falsified    you guess
 where oceans live,       again do you? do you? amiss

only she didn’t show up, did she?

Born in Halifax, Trish Salah is the author of the Lambda Award-winning Wanting in Arabic, and of Lyric Sexology, Vol. 1, and co-editor of a special issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, on Transgender Cultural Production. At the University of Winnipeg she organized the conferences, Writing Trans Genres: Emergent Literatures and Criticism and Decolonizing and Decriminalizing Trans Genres. Her writing is available in recent and forthcoming issues of Angelaki, The Capilano Review, Sinister Wisdom, Somatechnics, and Vetch: A magazine of Trans Poetry and Poetics. She is assistant professor of Gender Studies at Queen’s University. You can find her on twitter @anasemia.

Zaina Alsous


after Solmaz Sharif

Ya’aburnee—may you bury me, says a lover in Arabic
             Whereas not all Arabs speak the same language

Whereas we visit the ruins of Byblos, to look at the remnants of Rome
             Byblos may have been occupied seven thousand years before Christ

Whereas It is complicated because it is a sacred place and we do not want to use live ammunition
             Said the IDF spokesman when Israeli snipers surrounded the Church of Nativity

Whereas Samir the bell-ringer is shot in the chest and wrapped in plastic
             Whereas the Palestinian residents of Bethlehem were unable to bury their dead

Whereas what is the sound that makes God
             Believe your side of the story

Whereas Palestinian refugees in Lebanon still cannot own land
             Whereas my parents are born as tourists to the ruins

Whereas in the United States the Muslims are ruining this country
             Whereas on the 11th of September I see my father cry for the first time

Whereas my father teaches me the short syllables of Alhamdulillah and
             Democracy Whereas the diagnosis of patriot will not cure enemy

Whereas during an anonymous phone call he is told to go back to Iran
             I visit his refugee camp at the outskirts of Beirut in clean sneakers

Whereas in my sole authorized nation it is my civic duty to vote
             For the candidate who will administer more polite death

Whereas the fantasy of love is also a fantasy of return
             I wanted you in the damp green; slow as rot, a home of gape

Whereas Frida names a drawing “Ruin” and dedicates it to Diego
             Whereas with my fingers inside of you I don’t know if I am looking

For monument or erosion
             Whereas here is when I find a way to ruin the moment

Whereas you buried me
             In the wrong plot, on the wrong graph, in the wrong bell of time

Whereas I don’t get to touch the yarrow laid at my tomb
             There is always something left behind that is never mine

Abortion Fantasy

in The city I am most ravenous
red thread cable a throat
a poem about revision I am
cells roam unopposed
refuses to exit the uterine border
The city only wants the stranger
me with commerce
we are most dangerous
and I conjoined with notes
of biology state hood I
the stranger as
cells before revealing
The city does not want the stranger
see women’s pod see eugenics
procedures The city subsidizes
begging complicit blood plots
Genital form to offer more than
The city does not want the stranger
a carnivorous womb trap heliamphora
an invasive species of clit
the stillborn mushroom body forcing
an occasion of treason

fist fulls of
escape route this is
arable but echo
the stranger
I patrol and part
when it fills
in here the stranger
undesignated by outbreak
will scrape
a strain of
our conspiracy
see sister sterilization
board election or elective
I come and go
between sore
I want
I want
I want

Processed with VSCO with 8 preset

Zaina Alsous is a daughter of the Palestinian diaspora and an abolitionist. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in The Offing, decomP, The Margins, Radius, Glass, Best New Poets 2017, and elsewhere. Currently she is an MFA candidate at the University of Miami.

Suzi F. Garcia

I Have Long Lost a Concept of Sleep

Snakes are building a nest/in a bed so I walk/ away/ My eyeliner is smeared / rain drops mix with tear drops & dried sweat/ my hair gains new curl before thickly falling/I swish swallow  spit champagne and Chambord/ hit clubs so dark / I can’t tell—was that you was that me? / A rhythm pumps through my skin/ move towards/ body heat. / I’ve stopped trying to tell /what my feet are doing  / I    swim /     gasp     over water & find warmth/ in isolated spots of my body fingertips/ burn /my breasts/ I am lost/ in the strobes. /I want to stay here forever/ home is a far-gone prospect & the heat is out / in my car but here I can seek out moments of spotlight /No one follow me /because I step/ I bird/ I am a woman whose toes curl backwards/ break off When do neglect and indulgence become the same things? / My emotions suffocate /under dust. I find a section of earth & /pantone. I carry longing / in the scars on my thighs /& when I look in the mirror I wonder/ if my lover would recognize me? / I sparkle pearl & moscatto but break open pink / My thoughts unravel like ribbons / I swim silver skin in / diamond dark, my heart pierces through / the atmosphere light up/ under the moon & / dance shadow, the cool of it all. I hit up an abandoned / Ferris wheel/ redstains across my body & talk /selfsweet tonight climb/ My lungs icicle & /seagulls become discarded tissues behind me/ Mud slides between my toes/ I turn / to a stranger in the water below / whose face is mine but not mine/a cousin I never met /     gatita, let’s jump/     she calls     /& the ocean comes to me in an embrace, there—/

I Learn from History

The Queen of Versailles gave me lessons
on scapegoating over tea, so tonight I lay down,
and Every Man steps right over me. From the ground, I can see
a squirrel bury a nut, but the future can’t be trusted to arrive.

                                Pat pat pat pat into the Earth:
I haven’t left my kitchen floor in weeks, but I have
a plan. Streetlights open up on every block: veins, saturating
anything around them. I dream of a step forward each moment,
and I will ask the questions that suffocate deep in my chest,
the ones that I cough up when I’m alone: red, black, and green.

Why does my anger scare you? Are you afraid of me
or are you afraid of what will happen
if I stand beside you?

I want to purge this, circle the parking lot, salt the asphalt,
grow whole universes in darkness.  

But until then, I survive five miles under ice,
with other extinct things.

There I indulge in morbidity,
watch in silence as my flesh loses blood,
stiffens, loosens from my body. The gap between
cheek and cheekbone fills with slush water, I come apart
under teeth like butter knives, but the fish assure me
I am not feeling a thing.

Suzi F. Garcia is the daughter of an immigrant and has an MFA with minors in Gender Studies and Screen Cultures. She is an Editor at Noemi Press, and her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from Fence, Vinyl, Apogee, the Wanderer, and more. You can find her on Twitter at @SuziG or at

Linette Reeman


              i, too, have loved a queer body too brightly to see them husk me until it happened. have opened up the internet to escape and seen their virality spake psalm out of my friends’ mouths. have closed my eyes and wondered if this was worth a stranger’s jealousy. to wake up next to them and tell my friends what they look like. to mistake a naked swath of skin for vulnerability. to call it that anyway, even when their mouth scabbed and their hands twisted inside of me as though playing an un-tuned instrument. i, too, have spit all the teeth out of an ex-lover’s name and felt guilty for the blood of it. sometimes, when i hate myself the most, i wonder who will love the faggots if we can’t even love ourselves. and maybe it is my fault. for expecting someone to partake in me and not come away writhed and wounded. for finding someone whose gender mirrors mine like we wouldn’t shatter getting that close. o, god of fast music and neck muscles, show me a queer intimacy that does not end in a dawn that dreads what new bruises it will expose. give me a community that does not sing in octaves made of knives and other poignant garbage. sometimes, when i mourn the death of trust, i feel selfish in my ability to weep over something that is not actually a body. how many times will i get to hate an ex before they die and/or are killed, and then what? do i mourn for the loss of one less person to slander me? do i pity the dirt they will sink into for their contamination of it? do i praise the maggots that will eat their heart, and the obvious metaphor of a thing that once flustered against my hand now cooling from a hate-crime? am i, perhaps, a piece of shit, for imagining a funeral notice i do not even open before throwing out? o, god of first-dates and subsequent road-trips, please stop letting me be broken by people that have also been broken by someone like me. please stop giving me lovers so similar that we become reflections and stop seeing the difference. please please o god of queer idols, stop          just       fucking         stop. there are so few songs we can sing in which we do not have to change the pronouns or mutter them under the baseline. o, god of shy violences, do you think if we told the not-faggots that the faggots also too barrel into us like car-crashes they will stop following us around parking-lots? i, too, have been grinded up against in the mostly-dark and felt my breath stop and still wished for them to leave tonight alive. i, too, have seen a friend swollen with a new abuse and wondered if i blessed their perpetrator’s belly with a bullet, if we are both trans and just pre-dead anyway, would the headline dead-name it a suicide?

Linette Reeman (they/them pronouns) is an Aries from the Jersey Shore, so they’re not sure what you mean by ‘speed limit.’ Their work appears in Blueshift Journal, Maps for Teeth, FreezeRay, Public Pool, and others, they are a multiple Pushcart Prize, Bettering American Poetry, and Best of the Net nominee, and have performed at venues like Busboys & Poets and the Bowery Poetry Club. Currently, Linette is attempting to survive in small-town America. // LINETTEREEMAN.NET

Jason Phoebe Rusch

Do you feel like you were born in the wrong body?

The truth of it is I don’t feel like a man or a woman
so much as a Janus-faced alien

from a Ursula K. LeGuin novel; like a radish
buried underground, plump,

both womanly
and phallic; like a bearded lady king

on a fiberglass throne; like a symphony rather than
a single note;

like my body is good—I mean,
good enough

as any spare:
there’s a pleasure in it,

in doubling, pleasure heady as helium,
in being both inside and outside

a skin; in building a second

like a dam or hutch, a face
to wear like a home

in molting
whatever no longer serves me

when and if
I feel like it. I may never

remove my breasts because
in truth, I like them.

I won’t lie to prove music to you,
music you can’t hear outside my skull.

I can only be my own permission.

Jason Phoebe Rusch has an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan. Their stories, poems and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Lambda Literary’s Poetry Spotlight, and Vice, among others. More of their work can be found at

Aricka Foreman

we live best/ in the spaces between two loves

—Tracy K. Smith

Sun drunk and bruised we stop
for mango juice, so sweet it jolts the tooth
Chickens scurry beneath legs, peck
at cartilage and scraps of bone C and J laugh
canibalismo Push cainito halves to the plate’s ledge,
one for each of my palms Slow I thumb the pits loose,
cradle the etymology thick and viscous in the valley
of my tongue: purple star apple, golden leaf, abiaba,
pomme du lait, estrella, aguay, milk fruit My little lobe
glows warm and fat Mouth curled around an old blurred
life Violet nights exhausting my dizzy tongue beside
offerings: stiff petals moon blood and stone I’ve come
here to clear a vision of myself and let it be true
How useless imperial language with a mouth
for hunger And thirst Ears pressed between veils,
straining to hold some silver ephemera not mine to keep

Breakbeat Aubade with Anemones and Lucky Fish

Waiting and waiting, Death I kept waiting.
                  Despite the world’s benevolent violence
      Wants rich and long, questions curled as cowrie.

See: a thousand lucky fish in the Grimoire of My Life.
                   The wild language of air sucked between teeth
         and the sibilance we submit to. Is the body not for this If

black writhe of being alive. What steel-clap hand, drunk bones
    and premonition: sapid        pelvis in translation,
torso of trap and tropical bass     I slither and bend into every note

I slip, maestro, between your thresh and breakbeat,
                   sweat a sea of wild anemones. Salt, so a deep song.
Chest warm with the heat of our need and the menthol to come.

High off echolocation, lights yellow the streets.
Beneath green rooms, I slip off my thick flit.

Between floors cumbia mouths my name,
says descend in and pay nothing.

Give up the veils between us. Ecstatic corona,
I pierce through the shrill season, against
shudder. Teem brink. Woman in line

with deliverance. Fever.
And the February a body begs.

Aricka Foreman is a writer, editor and educator from Detroit, MI. Her work and curation have appeared in The Offing, Buzzfeed, Vinyl, RHINO, The Blueshift Journal, Day One, shuf Poetry, James Franco Review, THRUSH, and Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poems for the Next Generation (Viking Penguin), among others. Author of the chapbook Dream with a Glass Chamber (YesYes Books), she has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Callaloo, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She currently lives in Chicago, IL.

Valentine Conaty

Phases of separation

Sex enters a room,
windows agape.
Scrapes a figure from its shadow
as the sun crowns.

Wicker chairs’
vaulting silhouettes,
like mangroves,
finger their reflections.

Parabolas, following
their asymptotes,
wicker until the sun distends.
Our faces tuned by light.

This arm, tangent
my shoulders,
smooths deviant angles
and extends others.

The mute television
sighs onto the opposite wall
not unlike light
unwound by water.

A Picasso:
one face of the moon
kisses the other,
cowering behind night’s silkscreen.

Two figures
connected at the throat
and groin, we join,
pulling tides out of still water.


My body arrested, regressed, sleeps restless for days.
The cat on my lap climbs every breath, purring. Have I imagined a change in her attention over the year?

I keep a dream journal, adjusting my gender accordingly each morning.

How to love a girl for her long limbs, bones like a cat’s, supernumerary breasts?
Primal mammary ridges emerge. Invisible underskin, dissolved over millennia by evolution. I’d wondered if the third breast would respond.

The men on television don’t understand the significance of bathrooms.
Gossip with porcelain lips, daily autopsies in the mirror. Painstaking distortion by doses. An underscoring of the body transfixed by needles.

I’m in middle school again, being recruited by the pretty girls. They’re testing my blood.
Before I get my passing grade, they ask: lift your skirt, girl. show us your work.

A coyote in the choleric throes of voice wakes others from thin air; I jolt awake, tits raised. The cat whines, lapping milk from my cupped palms.

Valentine Conaty grew up in Birmingham, AL. In the past three years, she’s lived in four cities in four states across the Southeast and East Coast. Currently, she lives in Queens, NY with a partner and a ragtag family of practicing artists. Her work can be found (under various former aliases) in Educe, THEM, and (b)OINK. Follow her on Twitter @queertrix.

Casandra Lopez

house of bullet

I house the bang of Bullet in my amygdala, in my tizzied **** brain now prone
to hijack.                                         Brother’s brain housed

a bullet for 14 hours. 14 hours of waiting

                                         room chairs in a caffeinless hospital.
                                         14 hours is a song lodge in throat,
                                         a soft isthmus where no food can pass.  

                                          We are all less now.
                                          Pieced together with lack.

                                          We must house
                                          him in our bodies—
                                          A clavicle scripted with initials, a marked arm
                                          or stomach and almond eyed children become
of a man’s existence.

Brother once housed a secret
and now I the prick of survivor’s guilt.

House this question: Who did this to you?
The police report says [REDACTED]
Someone tells me, [REDACTED]
Someone else tells me, [REDACTED]

Live this city as a question. A mark of tomorrow never guaranteed. Live
in this city’s muck, this edge                             of desert.                             What is below
will rise,                             a laked underground,               the gut of it,
our soupy middle.                                       Because each house is built      on a fault

line, so close to the spine.

Open my closet.           Open my suitcase.          Open our neighbor’s house. Open
my childhood friend.           Open our relations.           Open the stranger. Open
                                                  this city.  

And you will find each year it grows full
with more clothes printed with “In Memory” and ‘RIP.”

Do not advert your eyes when you shake
the hand of the mother of
Brother’s youngest child.
She houses Brother’s face

on her forearm.
                                          Here, she declares a theft,
                                          [ an                                     absence ]
                                          This tattoo, this scarred skin, a wound
                                          healing–made visible.

Bullet won’t stop.

It’s in Cousin’s computer.                                       She needs more
memory.                                                                       There is always more
to record,                                                                       more slides to set to music. More                                                                                Diana Ross singing
about                                                                                missing you.

Brother-Friend houses Bullet
in a drink, in his knuckles
deformed from a night’s punched fist.
Where else can he house                                             this wild?

                                            Can it live in a thirty day sobriety?

                                            Where can we rest our chorus of grief?

Eldest Nephew lives his grief
                                                        in a soccer limbed run, in a kicked

sphere. He learns this game—what it is to win and lose—in Spanish and English.

He learns that his first loss
                                                             after Father-death will turn him into a limp limbed

boy, his knees cutting into
                                                             the green regulated grass

He learns he will need help to stand.

for brother-friend who contemplates suicide on a Saturday

Casandra Lopez is a California Indian (Cahuilla/Tongva/Luiseño) and Chicana writer who has received support from from CantoMundo, Bread Loaf and Jackstraw. She’s been selected for residencies with School of Advanced Research and Hedgebrook. Her chapbook, Where Bullet Breaks was published by the Sequoyah National Research Center and her second chapbook, After Bullet,is forthcoming from Paper Nautilus. She’s a founding editor of As Us: A Space For Writers Of The World, and teaches at Northwest Indian College.

Trace DePass

requiem for the butterfly effect

a butterfly tripped over its wings
or walked with shackles
shushing itself to swallow sustenance
like the rest of them, vittles and now skulls
become Earth’s nectar.
[i took one step forward, then two steps back]
out of dancing on death’s toes. we don’t flinch.
we departed that…
left Africa for white-washed wooden ships,
rotting, with dead folk and repetition
no God. no witness.
i saw the butterfly that held my fate
(and realized that the ship is still buoyant,
it did not matter,
there are no options besides our own death…

and it was likely i would walk the plank,
watching water become my audience,
and spit me back out,
where the dead used to sing & had a song
like the rest of them, i am still here,
making a habit
out all my nerves, most left not long after
we had left that land. left it for floorboards,
purpled with black blood,
green men with gray bullets and no mothers.
when i was about to plunge off that plank
i thought i would jump
whether it be with, or without, dead weight,
still don’t matter. we would all become slaves,
soon, if not then late).

carefree black / ghost peering beyond two masks

                                         yes, i am
soft in the meantime   the interim in
electron & absence, of course
i don’t care for strength.
i mourn, yes, my mouth.
i read black lips, peer, & see the syntax –
broken. my tongue dragged
by ankles
       with english
soon as i ask        wusgood, sambo?
i wade, perched north beneath a roof
as stalactites in the interim, the
cavernous english dark inside my mouth.
i become (because why not?) a long pitch black tunnel
rivered underwater between
African & American,
whose manta rays & Cuttlefish disperse & hover

the hyphen, like Atlantic oceanic mantle
inside black people, yet relinquished        in
the interim, we drink a bottle full of endless;
all the drowned names name themselves monks
of the caves inside
amongst themselves too early. in the interim, we
blow out the speakers & haze like philosophers in
Southside Jamaica. in Southside,
                    maybe we speak the english that
learned to get along with itself. you know
i laugh at the idea of laughing, these things which we
cackle involuntary at;

perhaps, given we speak language
we ain’t supposed to speak,
white men know we must know there is
some type of peace here
they can’t perform. hey, maybe when i say
  wus crackin other than yo lips, negro?
                                    white men start
inquiring for the human tender enough to
grieve the dark body in its hands still damp
from genocide, hoping i won’t take him
to how my mouth got this way, how i took
back english, how i make it mourn itself
for birthing

niggas like me. how i crush phonetics
behind latin script behind my molars
& make the syllable crash into self.
white men don’t know i’m only soft spoken
for now. they don’t understand how i could
still take my time, since they ain’t kno
time is mine.

they ain’t kno how often i had to be enough
to endure the odds of it happening – all of the
atoms within the slave at the brim of becoming
water; allied powers gleaming their will

when sour, their white horse gallops
toward my body, rippling crests in my
now cracked-open dialect in each dialectic.
                         here, 400 years
unsheathed hairs of a mare thickened ripe with
invasion, his hooves painted each black lip
burgundy & whinnied an undoing. they ain’t kno

how i once told my


what you doin here? i see you,
cowboy. where you
bout to be out to?
where we finna go?  

the tesseract tethers rooms

[if a cube, once beyond 3D, becomes hypercube,
the way square face smack-collapse henry’s box,      his body’s part vitruvian here,]
if each room is a cube, if  here  perhaps is a room  
this night i’ll sit, stay, spin, congruent with hypercubes.

                    yes, time, in the cubes with deaths in them, passes so much
i could see all, even the deprived, of time, evaporate into a sky’s black face
is it transpiration once animals with human limbs depart earth as stray water?
      or no?
allowance, adhere this – allegiant s[p]un arisen
to hue from its own animal & then adhesion.

perhaps when your black body needs more time, something mass-
ive enough to be it lifts, from it, up.
perhaps when your black body needs           ,
minutes might chip away from it      

                or us; then, perhaps,
dearbody, i knew    never could i ever keep up.
everything, blackbody, which did not make me beauty enough, ran like a creek thru
                or us; then, perhaps,
dearbody, i knew    me and coaxed oxbows not oxygen, just gin, from blood.
i had dreams of becoming for entire seasons a season back when i had dreams
                          & only Autumn.

i depart some father’s lids’ dark & see: i barely recall light but please observe how
i was born how it is: to mourn.
the it itself, “mourning” mourning,
peering thru as it self,   seeing
& knowing
                     here is no exit,
excavating, with deer eyes, here
                      as it, only until the gradual dying-it.      the neon puss dye
in the rigged big, marred open, [a]jar from worms & dirt,
it reeks & itches like a house of too many nails,
burrowing its own white walls pink;
it looks.        like someone’s entire incised, expired,
melonhead, here — this collapsed underground underground.
certain places the dead still grasp
possess no place for the living & yet,

here might be but refurbished, repurposed,
a white ghost — that cenotaph… is it yours?
my father’s dog, found in the yard with a
bullet in its head, moved out here
where the belonged stray.


can’t want to stay here without want.  
am i too happy now to want     to marry something?     so bound-in by its dimensions, the love
               sets, resets by whim’s direction & not intention?
is it just to(o) in the present? that’s just     to(o) bad. hell, i might just love anywhen else.
               so, no, not “my bad”.
i tire of death, relative to me, not passing, in 3D. i need this divorce.
you go writ(h)e,
               go anthropomorphize rot incessant all     thru my body. look! there’s ceiling to this
passivity: dirt. here’s this room i’ve named —
outside that room lives just my other room,
                                  another empty tomb, maybe
                                  a separate cube,
which, after peering at it for long enough, i too
on some days become. watch: i’ve lost

track of my own tesseract face, mourning my spun abandoned boy/hood. time saddles, hastes,
whips, leaves all at once. i get a few good looks at myself when a lens     the other side

of me can tell me

how sharp
i look, in passing, in 3D.

this here! in a body who might soon forget me tells me of nuance in my will, how this
good letterhead tops my death certificate; how different i must be before she felt

my hands, and, maybe, i like her
usage of time. the it within her knows
certain things before they happen.
perhaps, i’ll make this place some when within her all my
omnidirectional, omnitemporal,  omni-
                              scient/present at least out & thru
all my deerbody; my last, boundless &  final place.

Trace Howard DePass is the author of Self-portrait as the space between us (PANK Books 2018) and editor of Scholastic’s Best Teen Writing of 2017. He served as the 2016 Teen Poet Laureate for the Borough of Queens. His work has been featured on BET Next Level, Billboard, Blavity, NPR’s The Takeaway, and also resides within literary homes-Entropy Magazine, Split This Rock!, The Other Side of Violet, Best Teen Writing of 2015, & the Voice of The East Coast Anthology.