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Liam Strong 

 

 

self-portrait

 

 

take a selfie

in the mirror

 

with him.

take a picture

of the mirror.

 

stick your

tongues out together.

 

his head is a head

above you. a reflection

is a lack

 

of creativity. what’s a faggot

if not a series of

 

errors & trials. what’s a faggot

but a gathering of little

birds flapping toward

 

the sun. what’s a faggot

without a ministry.

 

oh. that’s right. just

another matchbook

waiting for fire or friction

 

or both.

what my father & i don’t talk about

family recipes passed

down from your great grandmother

            (i had to ask my aunt for them)

 

what we look at when we look out

the window of your Dodge Ram:               for you,

shoddy vinyl siding

jobs, places to hunt, a new

wife;

 

              for me,                          the boy on the other

                                                                                           side of the road, tight

              dark jeans, clean shaven, femme-

                          stepped, femme-chisel, femme torso

              like a matryoshka doll spindled

                           onto another body

 

how we like our eggs

cooked

 

my new fashion style,                 why my voice

changes for some people,

trilled like a dark-eyed junco

 

why you can’t buy new clothes

for yourself,    why mom used to buy your wardrobe

from Dunham’s            why

your house is blue

 

why i don’t say our house anymore

 

how i can’t be a bitch because of

my penis

            trust me, i’m a bitch

                                                                                                            (& so are you)

 

how we’re not all dicks

if we don’t use our turn

signals

 

the phrase “straight as an

arrow”

 

the phrase “scared straight”

 

how i’m only scared

when in your vicinity

 

how i’m only

straight when in your

                                      vicinity

 

how the arrow never fails

its target

 

why my sister accidentally calls me

they instead of him

             how your chin swivels like a reclined

             office chair at this vagueness

 

how there are actually many of me,

dad

 

look, there must be a way for me to explain this to you

 

you don’t even have a bible, but we definitely don’t talk

about it either way

 

if god could have three forms, can’t i have more

              than one

 

ghosts

               yeah, ghosts

 

how you’re not superstitious, but totally are,

because our silence fogs up

the windshield, prevents us from seeing the fox

in the road we’re about to make

a funeral out of

 

how you’re always hitting                             me with your truck,

its rusted hulk undamaged somehow,                    how its

            your baby, a vehicle as old as me,              how

the truck is you,           how it’s never been

replaced,         how it’s so stuck in two-wheel drive

that you can’t remember what

the other settings feel like

 

how you snarl at rainbows

in a flag

            but not at the sky

 

maybe god, maybe

mom, maybe what’s the difference to you

 

how you feel about mom

killing herself

 

i know how you felt about her,

            i know that much

 

how the farm roads

             are filled with blood,

             weed-whipped grass, cairns

             of cherry pits,

                                                   how i want more than black tartarians

                                        blotching my thighs

 

how i’m the unholy

ghost,             dad,         i’m the miscarriage,     i’m your

           fear,                      your not-son,                            the college degree

                        you never had,

                                                              your fag

 

how i’m not                the one

            who’s a pussy watching

            horror movies                                                       (it’s you)

                        it’s not the blood i love

                                    it’s the blood i want

                                    to love

Liam Strong (they/them) is a queer neurodivergent cottagecore straight edge punk writer who has earned their B.A. in writing from University of Wisconsin-Superior. They are the author of the chapbook everyone's left the hometown show (Bottlecap Press, 2023). You can find their poetry and essays in Impossible Archetype and Emerald City, among several others. They are most likely gardening and listening to Bitter Truth somewhere in Northern Michigan. Find Liam on Twitter and Instagram: @beanbie666

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