The Confused Conspirator

Many things are ironic in my life. Situational irony is smacking me in the face as I listen to George sitting across from me babbling about his love of oil and cars. I can’t stop tuning him out and thinking that I told myself, many times over, that I’d never lose all of my vision. I don’t know what he’s doing here because he said he would never date a bookworm. I’m in shock because he’s been fine with it up until now. Then again, every stance he has taken or opinion he has spewed has been the polar opposite of what he told me this morning. I wonder if his name is even George.

My profile is splattered with sentences about how many audio books I consume on a weekly basis and my love of sentences, words, and publishing. I told George that I love books when he first messaged me on the website. He said, as I am sure he tells everyone, even his unknowing friends, that it’s “definitely no problem because he’s open minded.”

“So guess what?” he rambles, a word which here means: fires off without any regard to the other person’s thoughts or feelings about the presidential election, a topic he was just spitting about.

“Guess what! I haven’t read a book in over ten years!”

“Really?” I ask, in utter awe, a phrase which here means: completely proud to be anyone other than this forty-year-old overachiever.

“Yeah!” he cheers, “I feel great! I don’t have any bias because of my choice, you know? Reading is for the people who just want portable ways to be brainwashed.”

I stare at the spot where his booming voice is rocketing from. Even though I can’t see anymore, I can tell a few things. He’s spitting as he talks. I feel small droplets pelting me in the face every time he utters a vowel. He’s shoveling chicken into his mouth. I can smell the hot sauce as it smacks my face. He loves to talk about himself. And, lastly, he can’t keep one detail about himself consistent. I wonder if he even read my words or if he just guessed my sentences. I decide to try to reason with him.

“I know you don’t like to read,” I begin, “But, I have to wonder, did you even read my profile, did you even look at the messages you were sending me on the dating site?”

“Oh! Those?” he snorts. This time carrot-flavored spit peppers my face. My stomach churns. “Well, see, I thought you weren’t serious about any of that. I thought you were writing them journalisms because you wanted to weed out all of the stupid people who like to be brainwashed by words on a page or a screen. Now, me, I’m a free thinker. I haven’t been brainwashed at all. Hell, I don’t even know what the word ‘conspiracy’ means, for example. Who makes up these definitions anyway? The media and books tell us how we should think, but they don’t help us think. You feel me?”

I stare in bewilderment, a word which here means: eager to brainwash him with the definition of the word ‘stupid’ instead. “But, see… that’s just paranoid thinking. People read for all kinds of different reasons. To be entertained. To be informed. To explore different worlds. To learn something new about an old event. There’s more than one kind of book and there’s more than one kind of writing.”

I can feel his eyes staring at me with confusion. He seems like he’s having trouble processing what I just said.

“I don’t get why people read. I don’t get why people read the media or books. It’s all portable hypnotizing devices anyway.” He adds, as if to add insult to injury, “It’s such a shame you participate in that brainwashing process. You seem like a really sweet and nice and caring fellow. I mean, here you are, cute as a button, and you are one of them media people that tells the public what to think and how to believe. The corruption has reached you!”

Even though I have only been sitting here for ten minutes I want to flee, a word which here means: scream and run away. I smile, stand up, and pop my cane out. I take a deep breath to prepare for the scream of a lifetime, when he drops a bombshell.

“I love movies though!” he says. “Maybe I can show you some good movies that will make you read less.”

A few minutes later I am figuratively running as fast as I can to the nearest library. I want to apologize to the structure. I want to let the building know that I will literally never speak to George again. I feel relieved when I reach the library. I pick up a few classic audio books from their shelves and stroke their spines tenderly, a phrase which here means: supporting all the writers rolling over in their graves who are begging for a reproduction license requirement.

Robert Kingett is a bestselling author and award winning journalist who just can’t stop pouring his personal life onto a screen. While most admired for his personal essays, human stories, boldly told, and short memoirs, he also covers various beats, such as satire, politics, crime, travel, food and drink, and entertainment. He is a dating advice columnist and actively campaigns to make the world a better place for disabled people as well as other minority voices. His website is

Immigration Raids: Know Your Rights

Some of our editors have been attending trainings from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. Given the current climate, we wanted to post a few useful takeaways from these sessions.

*Disclaimer: This is not legal advice*

ICE raids are more and more likely. Know what to do in the following places.

At Home

If agents come to your home, they must have a warrant. If someone comes to your door, do not let them in. Instead, tell them to slip the warrant under the door. If they don’t have a warrant, they will likely leave. If they do, read over it before you open the door. They will often only have a warrant for one person, but once they are in your home they can question anyone there. Do not tell any agent your immigration status or where you were born. You have the right to remain silent. More information in English / Spanish.

At Work
Agents are again supposed to have a warrant, as well as permission from your employer to enter. Running away may be seen as an admission of guilt. Do not tell any agent your immigration status or where you were born. You have the right to remain silent. More information in English / Spanish.
On Public Transit

We’re hearing reports of ICE raids on public transit systems, primarily in metropolitan areas. *These are not confirmed. If anyone can confirm, please contact us.* People are reporting on social media that transit authorities are checking to make sure people have a valid ticket; those who don’t are removed from public transit and met by ICE agents. Have a valid ticket on all public transit. Do not tell any agent your immigration status or where you were born. You have the right to remain silent.

If You Are Detained
You can print and carry this card.
From CASA of Maryland, Detention Watch Network, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer’s Guild.
ICE agents may try to pressure you into signing documents by stating that it will make proceedings go faster. DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING. Ask to speak to a lawyer.
You can ask for a bond hearing to be released on bond instead of staying in detention.
How to Prepare
  • If you can, save as much money as possible. You may need it for legal fees, paying bond, or taking care of your family if you are deported.
  • Find and carry the information of an immigration lawyer on you at all times.
  • Develop a safety plan. Who can pick up your children from school if you are detained? What will happen to your possessions if you are deported? Who will care for your children or pets? You can use this family safety planning worksheet, or this child/youth safety planning worksheet.
  • Collect all immigration documents (passport, visas, etc.) as well as documents showing how long you have been in the country, such as utility bills or leases. Keep these in a place where a friend or neighbor can find them and bring them to you should you be detained.
  • Talk to coworkers, employers, or your union to discuss what will happen if your workplace is raided.


Rights of Trans People in Detention
You have the right to gender-appropriate clothing, transition-related care, and HIV medications. You also have the right to choose the gender of any officer conducting a strip-search. You have the right to be safe from sexual assault or harassment and to not be placed in isolation. These rules are not always enforced. Lambda Legal has more information on trans immigrant rights.

For LGBTQI People & People Who Are HIV+
There may be free legal help available from Immigration Equality – English, Spanish, French, Russian.

You can find more detailed information on protecting yourself from immigration raids in English or in Spanish.

Be safe. Be strong.

In Solidarity,

Poetry Double Feature


Mom nags, “Don’t swallow that or it’ll grow into a tree.”

Black watermelon flecks splinter. Cherry pits wither.

Tiny kiwi dots get lost. Kumquat gives up the ghost.

I gag on a peach stone. But a tight-housed seed

pared from a fruit Jessie stole from an abandoned lot looks

like pay dirt. Jessie knows how much I wanna be the
climate to grow a little shoot that shoots like his. I choke
it down with a chlorine gulp from the hose. Stretch open
my mouth to the sun. After three days, not even a
tickle. Jessie investigates with flashlight and tongue de-
pressor. See a sprig climbing past my tonsil-trellis, upside down through the wrong mouth? I try to stop making spit in case the sprig’s drowning.
Jessie insists intestines are dirtier than my tummy,
so he lifts my skirt with his magnifying glass. Sand?
Loam? Clay? Enough nitrogen? Jessie wiggles his green
thumb to investigate. With a gentleness I don’t expect,
he tamps the dirt around a hole dug long ago and licks
soil to taste vitamins. The seedling might be thirsty, yes?
I hesitate at the watering can spout. Should I find out this
way, at eight,
whether I
am fallow
or fertile?


Scotia, 1901. We swap a two-man saw
for a lift to the clinic.
Doctor boils water, administers laudanum.
(We dream of felling timber with an axe
the old fashioned way.)
A spill squalls us awake.
is the first diagnosis.
Doctor disappears with the specimen
and returns to show us F
marked on the certificate
next to Laurel, familiar as graded lumber.
We swaddle her in Eliza’s skirt,
bandaging a pale whorl that fists shut.
A strange scar.

Sweet spots hum in a hollow trunk
found by father
working himself to a lather.
“Timber!” echoes at odd hours.
At a safe distance, Laurel takes knife to scrap,
carving peckers from filch-sawn fir,
wings uneven, beak stunted.

Woodpeckers at lesser bark
tap to draw lice and larvae.
They telegraph each other, too:
long misspelled missives
that illiterate trees can’t read
drum across the forest.

Laurel doesn’t suspect peckers’ variety of tongue protuberances:
curled between skull and skin,
barbed for hooking insects,
brush to suck sap,
spear-like tip,

Julian Mithra queers desire through performance poetry, collage zines, found footage video, and cut up books. Their work fragments the erotic drive to manifest and the destructive drive to expurgate. When they emote, people listen; then get uncomfortable. In California, they’ve formally studied material culture, folklore, narrative, and the avant garde. Informal studies range from leatherwork to Dada. Their work appears or will appear in The Golden Key, Thank You For Swallowing, PoetryFilmKanal, Whirlwind Magazine, Pilcrow&Dagger, and Milvia Street. Find unsettling audio tracks on and watch soft focus poem videos on

ACA Repeal: What You Should Know & What You Can Do

People are understandably worried about the future of the Affordable Care Act and confused about what the Senate vote meant. Put succinctly, Senate Republicans voted for a budget resolution that will allow for portions of the ACA to be repealed later via budget reconciliation. But even if this measure is passed by the house today, which is more than likely, and eventually signed by Trump, this does not repeal the entire ACA. Yet.

Before the ACA can be fully repealed, a replacement must be created. We don’t yet know what this replacement will look like. Ignore the glaring irony that the party that prizes itself on fiscal responsibility is making massive financial decisions without knowing how this will impact the budget long-term. Great work, chaps!

This is certainly not good news, but don’t despair; it’s not doomsday. Yet.

What you should know:

For transfolx, if you’re in a state that has passed laws forbidding insurance exclusions of transition-related care, you will still be able to access transition-related care whether your insurance is through employers or through the marketplace. Unless these coverage mandates are repealed at the state-level, you have little to worry about as long as you have insurance.

Contraceptives and preventative screenings are still covered, for now. Preexisting conditions are still covered, for now.  Young adult dependents can still be covered on their parents insurance, for now. And it’s likely that these latter two provisions will continue with whatever replacement is drummed up, as these provisions have wide bipartisan support.

Still confused? The fantastic Ijeoma Oluo wrote a great primer about what exactly happened and what it means.

What you should do:

Call your representatives (particularly Republicans) and let them know how the ACA has helped you and what you want the future of healthcare coverage to look like. Believe it or not, the calls and letters really do work.

Get and stay informed about your rights.

Share your story! Sharing your healthcare story helps lobbying groups work on your behalf.

Keep your spirit up. Keep calling your reps. And most importantly, keep it trashy.

In solidarity,
-Gendertrash Editorial Team

Clown Suite

If I had learned to paint existence,

if I would have had a Bertold Brecht in my drawer,

(Man is born in the Bertold Brecht of his shirt.

Children’s eyes and anxiety knock on his door)

this gulp of Japanese rum would have been

just like a son of a bitch rose.


But this country of drunkenness is insatiable,

Pedrito, almost like a back-lit photograph.

This small country promised us transience,

gave us many blank pages and some scribbles.

It also peed in our socks.


That’s why I love clowns.

For their contribution to the theory of horror,

for their wide and happy shoes,

and for the Bertold Brecht that redeems the usury

of dwelling in this rough alphabet.

Sergio A. Ortiz is a queer Puerto Rican poet and the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. He is a two time Pushcart nominee, a four time Best of the Web nominee, and a 2016 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have been published in hundreds Journals and Anthologies. He is currently working on his first full length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

Untitled by Moss

“Wish You Were Here” by Moss. You can peruse and buy their art here.

my head against the van window/i hear snippets of conversation/“…jenner”/“i just don’t understand that sort of thing”/the conversation moves on/as these conversations do/i say nothing

the bathrooms here are unisex/i hear a parent say to their child/“these are for men and women”/i look at the bathroom sign/i am the white line in between two defined areas/i say nothing

“and the waves of conversation/laughter/shouts/around me are suffocating”

i can’t find the people i came with/and the waves of conversation/laughter/shouts/around me are suffocating/i went to the ocean once and was knocked over by waves/even now i can feel the riptide tugging at me/my phone is dying/i find a quiet spot and say nothing

the city is stretched out before me/i find some solace in its multicolored lights/i find more in the calm living darkness above it/lit softly by stars/3 students take pictures next to me of themselves/of the cityscape/laughing

“are you ok”/i am fine/(i am not fine)/(i am thinking about so many things)/the thin white line drags me down into its riptide/overheard conversations rise to greet me/i say nothing/and keep walking

morning comes/as mornings do/and music is the background for it/breakfast is content and filled with coffee/and meaningless words

“just what i like to see; beautiful women in a kitchen”/presumptions and assumptions/the thin white line is here as well/cutting off the words in my mouth/i say nothing and drink coffee

“why should i be careful / they were as careful as they should have been & they are dead still”

“our thoughts and prayers”/”be careful”/i am not careful/why should i be careful/they were as careful as they should have been & they are dead still/i wrap cardboard boxes/thinking of other boxes made of wood/and say nothing

“i am angry”/”i am sad”/god, i am terrified/i know i don’t belong/i say a few words and eventually they all come pouring out/i am on the bathroom floor texting my family/my sister asks my pronouns/my brother calls me by my name

i still feel that thin white line/but it is thinner now/the riptide is still there but i can swim in the ocean/i speak my thoughts/i keep walking forward/even as the water rises

Moss lives in a weird little room in a weird little house in a weird little city where it rains a lot. Sometimes they make tacos at night while swigging orange juice straight from the carton, in clear defiance of sanitation and a sense of human decency. They think the world is equally weird and beautiful, and they try to make art that is certainly weird and maybe a little beautiful. Their digital art can be found at