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 Soundcloud.com/sara-anika-mithra and watch soft focus poem videos on vimeo.com/saramithra.

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.