Roses are red / violets are transsexual / welcome to womanhood / now get to work honey

Roses are performative / violets are biological / I have very sensitive breasts / and so do your breasts

Roses are biological / you have the nicest skin / I can’t stop kissing you / let's read more nondualistic queer theory

Roses are fed up / with our binary fetishes / I tricked my doctors / and stole all the medication to hide it in a cave and share it with other trans people

Roses have got me / up against the wall / kissing my neck / which is socially constructed to be a super hot strong feminist neck

Roses are violet / violets are roses / I really like you / I like you tube

Roses are born this way / violets have a lesbian streak / something about your dry sense of humor and our soft intertwined limbs / feels transcendently female

Roses are blue / violets are violet / roses are nonviolet / blue is bluenormative

Roses are from mars / violets had the whole surgery / setting up camp / exclusively on Venus

Roses have gone too far / not to be what girls are made of / I’m coming out / to my academic colleagues as a poet and I bet they will run away screaming

Roses are roses / violets are born this way / someone’s got a hoard / of heteronormative transaffirmation porn you say?

Roses are cheeky / I want you to fuck me / drown violets like an accused witch / in your arms which feel like mine

Violets got a name change / roses changed a pronoun / we ate at a restaurant / and forgot to put the leftovers in the fridge

Roses are trochaic / violets have their original plumbing / let’s march in a protest / then go home and we'll cook something delicious and eat it with a spork

Violets are permanent / roses are impermanent / thank you for becoming me / offering to embrace your form your fate

Flowerbeds are umbrellas / umbrellas are rubrics / I support your identification / and your disidentification

Men are from women / roses are from Jupiter / women are from men / I can’t tell which is softer, your lips or this pillow or the snow descending gracefully outside

Originally appeared in The Brooklyn Rail. Copyright © 2016 Trace Peterson. Used with permission of the author.

when i show you the illicit
behind a fiberoptic veil—
obstruction is a kind of foreplay.
yes—this is an intentional seduction.

this behind is a fiberoptic veil
i build an economy on anything i can.
yes—this intentional seduction
is suppose to be a delight.

build this economy on anything i can’t.
my taste is acquired, so take your time.
suppose, this is a delight—
the mystery, yours to solve.

you take & taste my acquired time.
take what wilts from my lips—
you—the only mystery unsolved.
i can never stop questioning my mouth.

take all that wilts, my lips.
where every fantasy i try leaves me dead—
i can never stop talking about my mouth.
here, my tongue is bile & tomorrow.

they leave me dead in every fantasy i try—
the overgrown prophecy i am to witness.
bile becomes swallow here & tomorrow—
some end time we have already faced.

the prophecy lives to overgrow the witness.
no future belongs to my body.
these end-times we already face.
my testimony is the absolute of what i know.

i belong to the future in my body—
will truth survive the transmission?
i testify in absolutes of what i can not know.
what do we make of the delay?

what will survive the transmission?
reveal the half-life of the illicit,
unmake myself as a means of delay
watch for the obstructive foreplay.

Originally published in Hyperallergic. Copyright © 2017 jayy dodd. Used with permission of the author.

Yet I was, in peculiar truth, a very lucky boy.
            —James Baldwin

In any case, the story begins
with darkness. A classroom. 

A broom closet. A bowl of bruised 
light held over a city. Or, the story 

begins with a child playing
the role of an ashy plum—

how it rises to meet the man's teeth
or doesn't. How the skin is broken 

or breaks because the body just wants
what it wants: to be a hallway 

where men hang their photos
on the wall. Does that make sense?

To want to own the image of the man
but not the man? To bask in that memory

of what first nailed you to the dark? 

From Sympathetic Little Monster (Ricochet Editions, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Cameron Awkward-Rich. Used with permission of the author.

I can not begin to know
producing difference by deferring
second third person construction
in the first third person narrative
promising surrender to the dead
acknowledging, I am an unknown participant
something maybe, something blind
consuming scarcity
producing hunger
constructing gender
breathing markers
making someone a thing
scapegoat instance
another perfect occasion
construct of a common sense sentence
out of many different bank accounts
apparently to produce
a final outcome
illumination legible
newspaper flyspeck
on the edge of an abstract noun

From Bharat jiva, published by Belladonna Books. Copyright © 2009, by kari edwards. Reprinted with permission of Belladonna Books.

        bieng tran is a unique kinde off organe / i am speeching

        materialie / i am speeching abot hereditie / a tran

        entres thru the hole / the hole glomes inn the linden / a

        tran entres eather lik a mothe / wile tran preceds esense

        / her forme is contingent on the feeld / the maner sits

        cis with inn a feeld / wee speeche inn 2 the eather / wile

        the mothe bloomes / the mothe bloomes inn the yuca

Copyright © 2018 by Jos Charles. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 17, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

This is like a life. This is lifelike.
I climb inside a mistake
and remake myself in the shape
of a better mistake—
a nice pair of glasses
without any lenses,
shoes that don’t quite fit,
a chest that always hurts.
There is a checklist of things
you need to do to be a person.
I don’t want to be a person
but there isn’t a choice,
so I work my way down and
kiss the feet.
I work my way up and lick
the knee.
I give you my skull
to do with whatever you please.
You grow flowers from my head
and trim them too short.
I paint my nails nice and pretty
and who cares. Who gives a shit.
I’m trying not to give a shit
but it doesn’t fit well on me.
I wear my clothes. I wear my body.
I walk out in the grass and turn red
at the sight of everything.

Copyright © 2015 by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Used with the permission of the author.

in spanish, we don’t naturally occur. the seasons differentiate us from natural people. when there are no seasons, let’s say, when we are a caribbean country, better yet, when we are a territory, we aren’t allowed to use the x, except for the word xylophone, because who uses a xylophone? and who wants us? every time you think these questions aren’t the same, you recognize that you never met me, despite the i’ve seen you before and somewhere.

if i’m going to explore my nationality, i have to be recognizable. this is what everyone knows. in fact, if i’m not recognizable, it’s as if i had no nation.

i wrote the following in a letter to the lions of the mayagüez zoo:

i know that right now you are lions, and you’ve spent a lot of time in the heat, but when you become snakes, no fence will be able to contain you. they’ll have to put you in a glass cage. they call this cage a fish tank. they’ll decorate the cage with rocks. you’ll no longer be able to roar. but don’t worry, when you become spiders, you’ll be able to leave the fish tank. you’ll climb up to the roof. maybe it’ll take you many weeks to find a window, but in the interim, you’ll eat mosquitos, since these are abundant, despite the aromatic candles.

i wrote them this letter because i know what it’s like to wait for transmogrification.

i wrote them this letter because i know what it’s like to wait for transmogrification in captivity.

outside of the fish tank, there is a room. outside of the room, there is a zoo. outside of the zoo, there is a hometown. outside of the hometown, there is a colony. outside of the colony, there is an empire. outside of the empire, there is the king of seasons. if you kill the king, you kill the game.


notas sobre las temporadas

en el español no nos damos naturalmente. las temporadas sirven para diferenciarnos de las personas naturales. cuando no hay temporada, digamos, cuando somos de un país caribeño, mejor, cuando somos de un territorio, no se nos permite usar la x, excepto para la palabra xilófono, ¿porque quién usa xilófono? ¿y quién nos quiere? cada vez que piensas que estas preguntas no son la misma, reconoces que nunca me conociste, a pesar del te he visto antes y de alguna parte.

si voy a explorar mi nacionalidad, tengo que ser reconocible. eso lo saben todos. de hecho, si no me reconoces, es como si no tuviera nación.

le escribí lo siguiente en una carta a los leones del zoológico de mayagüez:

sé que, en estos momentos, son leones, y llevan mucho tiempo en el calor, pero, cuando sean culebras, no habrá verja que los contenga. tendrán que ponerlos en una jaula de cristal. a esta jaula le llaman pecera. decorarán la jaula con piedras. ya no podrán rugir. pero tranquilos, que cuando sean arañas podrán salir de la pecera. subirán hasta un techo. quizás les tomé varias semanas encontrar la ventana, pero en el interín, comerán mosquitos, pues estos abundan, a pesar de las velas aromáticas.

les escribí esta carta porque sé lo que es esperar la transmogrificación.

les escribí esta carta porque sé lo que es esperar la transmogrificación en cautiverio.

fuera de la pecera, hay un cuarto. fuera del cuarto, hay un zoológico. fuera del zoológico, hay una pueblo natalicio. fuera del pueblo natalicio, hay una colonia. fuera de la colonia, hay un imperio. fuera del imperio, existe el rey de las temporadas. si matas el rey, matas el juego.


Originally published in the Boston Review. Copyright © 2017 by Raquel Salas Rivera. Used with the permission of the author.

who by the time it arrived
had made its plan heretofore
stonewall   it had not a penny
thats not true it had several pennies

can you make a sovereign nation a national park how condescending
instead just tell them to honor the treaty

what can poetry do it
cant not not do nothing
it must undulate w/ the 2:30 pm dance music the sole
patrons at stonewall

there was a shooting in ohio today
the music made me feel a little anxious it was
hard thumping dance music a notch
upwards of 100 bpm notoriously the beat of life
the optimum tempo for cpr
I consider downloading a metronome real quick to test it to tap it out but
I don’t want to be ‘anywhere near’ my phone
meaning it’s in my bag on the stool 2 feet from me

there is an amy winehouse video on no sound at least
I think it is amy winehouse
she is at a funeral black and white
there is a stuffed bird slightly obscuring my view of the tv
it looks like a kind of tall pigeon w/ mottled brown
and russet with a white ringlet necklace and black dots
is it a carrier pigeon I wonder I sent
a text to jocelyn at standing rock several texts

are you still on the road
ariana and i r gonna go out there in december
sending love to you
tried calling bt yr mailbox is full
send a sign when u can xoxo
howdy.  thinking of u w love.
hope all is well.  send smoke
signal telegram carrier pigeon 
send love to my twospirits at the
winyan camp.

last night we prayed for her and for zephyr and l. frank &
the twospirits especially at standing rock
there’s no sign of that struggle here but they are selling tshirts commemorating
the other and the six days of riots
led by transwomen of color they later tried to whitewash in that terrible movie
like it was all these hot angry upright downright forthright white gays so ready
for the revolution 
and now people are treating standing rock like burning man

a drink called goslings
videos by the pigeon misaligned with the music
the smell of booze in the air made both of us recoil slightly I saw
or felt it

I’m here to make a poem I was already paid for when I had less than $2 in my bank
account (and I joked I would go right to the bar and buy everybody drinks ) not even
enough for a subway ride and I used the 58 cents I’d gotten for busking for the first time
alone in the long hallway between the library at bryant park and the orange line trains by
the ovid quote ‘gutta cavat lapidem’ water (or a drop of water really) hollows out
a stone.  lapidum a stone or rock ariana once described cd wright’s style as ‘lapidary’
I loved this as a description of writing like the hieroglyphics are
literally lapidary and I told my grandmother about it as we
were driving from mescalero to albuquerque she knew all about the
plants and the names for all the rockforms mesas or buttes or
ziggurats and I said how do
you know all these she said by long observation and
I used to study geology in college I wanted to major in it
but they wouldn’t allow women
to major in the hard sciences then so she
began to study religion
tho she already had medicine

ricky martin on the beach
or is it someone younger sexier
the grand canyon splitting apart
is it an ad is it a video
even the sands at the beach
are bouncing with the beat
the tempo has stayed very similar this whole time a tick
up I suspect from 100bpm

Copyright © 2016 by Julian Talamantez Brolaski. This poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.

oh teita, the language the english no it understand tongue of you. and no can i
i feed you these the morsels from mouth of me. language of me the arabic half-
chewed. oh teita, let me i try and i fail to fit languages of us in each other.

seen i face of you split open by riot laughter. the spit it falls without grace from
lips of you thins. complexion of you light; skin of you wrinkled but healthy;
flecks olive they try to jump from folds of the corners of the eyes of you. can i
find in the mirror eyelids of you the heavy. eyelashes of you. the echo of the
nose of you. sometimes, i split open face of me with spoon, tool blunt &
wrong. i want from you for you to bleed from in me into the sink, so that can i i
ask these the questions sprinkled you in lungs of me. i cough out them, always
in the time the wrong. i laugh. soil of the grave falls it without grace from lips
of me.

Copyright © 2017 Noor Jaber. Used with permission of the author.