Binding

like rosebushes around your ribs,
pressing against your chest like you’re slow dancing.
There is something romantic in this breathlessness,
the slight rasp it evokes; you feel like you could burst.
Your body could become a firework, the kind that makes your ears ring,
and there is something freeing in that destruction.
It is not safe this way, tape clinging to you like it’s afraid you’ll leave,
but the marks it leaves have always been there­ hidden beneath your skin like kids beneath their
blankets on Halloween, imagining what the monsters under the bed look like.
In this moment you alone own your body, allowed to twist
it away from him, but more importantly, towards her.
When it hurts so bad your ribs fold like a dollhouse,
and you’ve stolen too many breaths from the Duane Reade,
You take it off. It feels like…


Cole Neufeld is an emerging writer, and currently studying in New York. They’re a sexual abuse survivor and often explore the after effects of trauma in their work- particularly in interaction with gender. They write poetry and short fiction, all within the lens of functioning outside the binary as a visibly queer individual. They identify as a non-binary lesbian and delve into the intersection and crashing of those two identities.

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Gendertrash Update

We’ve been terrible at posting. Horrendous really. On a scale from how frequently an asteroid collides with the earth to create the moon to how often the alt-right (Can we call them Nazis now? Yes? Great.) does something racist as f*ck, we’re posting at about the frequency of a total solar eclipse. We’re sorry about this, but we can’t make any promises that we’re going to get better. That said, dear reader, we owe you an explanation.

Self-Care, Y’all

We’re here for the resistance. And as seasoned activists, we know that this is a marathon, not a sprint. As gendertrash, we’ve always been in it for the long haul. We watched middle-class lesbians and gays do their sprint for marriage equality, we remembered them saying they’d work for trans rights after they won marriage, and we’ve listened to the crickets as trans rights have been repealed over and over and over. To be honest, we’re not the least bit surprised. Don’t get us wrong: we think marriage equality activists meant it when they said they’d come back to help. We just think that they burned out from the intensive physical and psychological decathlon that is activism.

Particularly when that activism centers around your own identity.

Particularly when the conversation of the oppositions centers around your right to basic human dignity, or even your right to live.

Particularly when you don’t have any choice in whether or not you become an activist because your very existence is politicized as an act of resistance.

We think marriage equality activists sincerely planned on coming back to help; we also think the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Our Own Merry Road to Hell

That brings us back to Gendertrash Café, dear reader. Here at the Café, we’re currently traipsing down the yellow brick road to hell, ‘cause we had the very best intentions when we started this blog. Luckily, it’s a pretty road and we’re all friends of Dorothy here.

Our editors have been engaging in very interpersonal and sometimes micro-level activism and self-care. Housing insecurity, job changes, and chronic illness to name a few circumstances of many have caused us to shift foci and priorities to personal safety and localized activism. We know you know these struggles, friends, so we ask for your love and support as we continue to engage and post at a slower rate than originally intended.

We would also be remiss if we didn’t point out that the current political climate is less than reinvigorating. There. Are. So. Many. F*cked. Up. Things. Happening. Every. Damn. Day. that it’s difficult to keep track of everything, let alone respond to all of it.

But that’s the design, ladies & gents & non-binary sibs. They want us to get distracted by the chaos. The tactic of the oppressor is to keep us in a constant state of confusion, anger, fear, and hopelessness. If we’re being hit from so many angles, and if the barrage is constant, we don’t know where and how to focus our energies. We start feeling as though we are powerless to incite change. Eventually, we give up. The chaos becomes normalized, the messages become internalized, and one day you wake up to find that we’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

“The tactic of the oppressor is to keep us in a constant state of confusion, anger, fear, and hopelessness. If we’re being hit from so many angles, and if the barrage is constant, we don’t know where and how to focus our energies. We start feeling as though we are powerless to incite change. Eventually, we give up. The chaos becomes normalized, the messages become internalized, and one day you wake up to find that we’ve always been at war with Eastasia.”

We must not let that happen. We must take care of ourselves so that we can continue to resist. This is an ultramarathon, so we cannot treat it like a 100 meter. Not a fan of sports analogies? The next few years will be the gastronomical equivalent of eating a 26-lbs turkey by yourself in one sitting. We suggest stretch pants.

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What we really want to say is this: take care of yourselves, hold space for others around you to commit to self-care, and take care of each other. We’re still planning to be here in 2021, albeit with new battle scars. But the only way any of us will make it to that point is to stay focused; to channel our anger into productive activism as much as it is healthy and possible; and to commit to the long, hard road ahead.

With love and solidarity,
-Gendertrash Café Editors

Want to join our volunteer team? Send us an email explaining your qualifications. Resume or writing samples appreciated, but not required. We’re looking for editors, writers who would like to regularly submit, and social media gurus. We do not currently have any paid positions and consist solely of volunteer staffers. In your email, please include creative suggestions on how you’d like to be compensated for your time. ​

On Loss – Poems by Sergio Ortiz

I Refuse to Lose You
I follow you to the street
where best regards
forms a corner wall
with the breeze.

Where my body fights
to enter the overflow of mist
in your cloisters.

Where clouds move inside a space
beyond grief or understanding,
and memory, my scandalous mirror,
always tells a lie.

Filled with longing
I came to you prepared for ghosts
and found whispers.

 

The Pianist
We buried him yesterday.
Night finds little if any consolation
in embellished stars,
and although I have stopped crying,
I still sigh.

I listen to music
when there is nothing
but the luscious scent
of emptiness.

You were my fallen flower,
my one thousand gifts
of heavenly abundance,
my banquet of endings.


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 of journals and anthologies. He is currently working on his first full length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

I Paint You in Bubbles

Together in the bath, I paint you in bubbles. I craft bubble biceps, bubble forearms, bubble shoulders. I build bubble pecs, careful of not to touch your breasts. I ruffle on a soapy beard, but you look like Santa, it’s too full, too fake. With a capped razor, I shave your baby cheeks, scrape and shape a face I think is manly. You smile and your mustache smudges.

When I reach for the cloud between your legs, you flinch, but you don’t stop me. We work together to shape genitals. You cup together balls of suds while I stroke a bubble patch into a shaft, round it, add girth. I trim the length and you add on a bit extra. I circumcise you.

Complete, you shimmer, like an illusion of handsomeness. We sit silent, the steady fizz of evaporating bubbles between us. I look away and pick at the ingrown hairs on my legs until the water turns cold.

When I turn back it’s your familiar body again, shiny smears like scars where the bubbles had been. I meet your eyes and I see him, determined, torn.

A final island of bubbles, the deflated remains of your penis, floats between us. I take a part of it and craft a plaster over the tiny puncture mark on your thigh, the first wound. I swear I can feel the throb of testosterone beneath my fingers. You take the last of the bubbles and, in gentle strokes, place a plaster over my racing heart.


Megan Crosbie is a queer writer and occasional performer from Edinburgh, who often writes in the boundary between flash-fiction and poetry. Her writing has been published in journals such as Firewords Quarterly, Northwords Now and Litro. In her free time, she enjoys travelling, drag shows, and too many vegan donuts. You can support Megan’s work here: https://www.mcrosbie.com/

Orbits

I.

In your own chaos

you reached out

recognizing

the imminence

of mine.

 

Your unexpected touch

turned my gaze.

Eyes locked

we previewed

the bitter darkness to come

–the night in which

your lamplike eyes

would be my only lantern.

 

Together,

you said.

 

II.

Night did come

(your premonitory accuracy

still astounds me).

Hand on my heart

the second time.

 

Together,

you reminded.

 

III.

Your warmth still

tethers me

to sanity–

even on days

when I teeter,

even

when the precipice calls

and I flirt

with answering.

 

IV.

Still one act away

I hesitate

in the shadows of creativity,

my longing

preparing me for another night.

Will I greet her

with your eyes

to guide me?

Or

will your lanterns be

swallowed

by a sea of darkness

in Act V?

 


Malo is a queer artist who oscillates between the fear of being discovered and being forgotten.

Out of Water

I am a clownfish. I told Aggie this when we met and again after our mothers set us up and she tried to put me in a hot air balloon on an otherwise bland double date.

She didn’t do her research.

“Those them cute ones in the tank at the Chinese restaurant?” she’d said, mimicking some southern belle and winking.

Today, August 21, 1963, she thinks she’s done better with a canoe trip and picnic along Lake Huron. Only we’re in Ontario and she’s packed “fresh” lobster. I wonder how long she’s had it in the basket.

I wish I could have breasts like hers, I think, standing on the beach with my hands shoved deep in my corduroys while she putters around in a yellow bikini and whisks out a table cloth. We need the music from Bewitched. I’d like to try twirling a parasol right now, anything but those fishing poles and the heavy paddles. Man, I’d do anything to get my hands on a perky cross-your-heart bra. For myself.

She lays the pieces of coral crustacean out like surgical tools. I play with a tail and she’s already licking her fingers, gabbing about her friends’ engagements and her progress with tennis and angel food cakes. The sand and everything is too white.

“The girls, you know, they all think you’re a little on the feminine side, can you believe it? But me, I just say, well ladies I like a clean and tidy man. I mean I’m clean and tidy. You must like that about me.”

Under her Rita Hayworth coiffed bangs, she stares over at me before tossing her head to the side, laughing. I feel sick, catching a faint whiff of ammonia from the lobster mixed with the wet algae smell.

The sun is blistering my shoulders and there’s sand in between my molars but I can’t go anywhere because my mother’s already asking too many questions and looking too worried when she catches me with her Chatelaine. It’s just her and I, now that Dad hightailed it to Florida for another woman—the fishing capital of the world, don’t you know it—and she said she wants a new, normal life carved out of the ripples he left. I don’t know how normal can manifest in something like moving water.

Aggie doesn’t seem to mind my inaction when it comes romance. Or conversation. And I know I’m going to have to keep it up and marry this girl who fed lobster to a clownfish and thinks something like blue and pink come from separate oceans.

Maybe one day I can explain about the clownfish.


Renée Francoeur is a 28 year-old Canadian journalist. By day she writes for contractors and by night she blogs, paints nudes and writes poetry.

She won third prize for the 2016 Women Inspirational Poetry Contest. She’s also written for Standard Criteria and Squawk Back and been published in Three Line Poetry and Poetry Quarterly. She is currently working on a chapbook about the intersection of broken heartedness, rebirth and geography.

She loves coconut coffee porter, wild buffalo, striving to bring gender and minority issues to the forefront, old tombstones, baking strange recipes (kale cake anyone?) and sustainable, GMO-free agricultural endeavours.

On Love and Longing – Poems by Sergio Ortiz

Eros and his Hidden Lover
Trapped in my surroundings,
my place of birth, a ray of moonlight
unfolded, revealing the fragrant lavender petals
of a desert flower. I moved closer,
desperate to express my longing,
and calm the madness
in Eros’s eyes.

I found my way to his tent
where voices of distant seas inhabit me,
where fear blinks as I learn to die
from the multiple definitions of East and West,
empty like the cracks in dry desert earth.

A needle stitched my tears.
Two thousand years in the thorny hands
of gods, a bitter pleasure.

Two worlds, two discernments.
Lost in the distracted indiscretion
of time. Stunned
and twisted.

We should rehearse
for the day when we go blind.
We should all learn to read with our fingers
the braille of scars on arms and sperm
of melted candles. Remove for one night,
every fortnight, the white bulb in our bedroom.

Because before death
comes blindness. And Charon will not accept
fear as payment to cross the river.

For a winged birth
steel must cut the meat
and throw away the body.
It is not the sky that grants us flight.
It is the fall.

Think nothing of it
if at the shrine of your life I am cured
of madness, for I taste silence
in the book of words.

Talk to me, soothe my capricious pulse
with the fluttering chants of hummingbirds.
I wrestle blasphemous shadows tonight.

Boots lie under my pillow,
memories of you in love with orchids.
This heartache does not want to be tamed.
There is sorrow on my face, and I have lost
my way out of the woods on the very night
swallows vanished amid strangers.


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 of journals and anthologies. He is currently working on his first full length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.