ways to write Queer on our school computers
what does it mean if i am que?r
you ask did you mean gay do i mean gay
do i mean lesbianbisexualtransgenderasexual
tumble terms blend blood slur the sexgenbetrans add lgb+tlgbt+lgbtqi+algbtq+iaap++add add add
always more letters and that damn + click like a metronome
flavor-sick cyclic saying yes we know there’s more
yesyesyes more but i search for more
and get ellipses unspoken unwritten ++++
and make sure you know i say Plus like a rimshot
like a rattling penny like
slamming fists on the table PlusPlusPlus ramshackle gunfire
eruptions in your introduction
we pass for nothing but the syncopation
of PlusPlus plus everything else—
plus Q is in the acronym
F slur D slur slurslurslur
or pansy because pansy is a flower
not fag though fags are cigarettes
vocabulary must be everyone’s word or a banned word
so no Q as in queer question dirty incomplete
queer the absence of the set end
the plain example the youhaveitallfiguredoutnow
queer as the middle phase
between something something else queer is the bridge
and the water under the bridge
queer the conjunction the blend and the slur
the youmusthateyourself the dontyouknowitsinappropriate
youth the learner teaching the dirt and the water in the dirt
so instead i type qu//r
say i promise i am not searching for more weapons
i promise have you never held a hammer and chosen to rest
the flat on your knee and test your joints or are you yourself so addicted
to swinging weights into bones that you cannot imagine how iron gives
its wielders comfort why am i punished
for the misuse of our words by other mouths
ignorance gavels stun guns stoplights
AIDS aid and every bible failed so
they ban walkouts histories soap tongues
strip us of distress flares
the smoking fag the mouth
mouthing now you are a pure young thing
just like me and liberation
is not you are just like me
because if children are not taught shapes of different words
in our tongues we will never speak
do you understand they target children
because no one else is left to lead us lightwards
and now we can only
when i bound my chest i sobbed in the mirror
i tied your bangs into a braid with callus-pulled fingers
when your mother caught us she slammed me into a car and drove me to the edge of the world
and i slip my nail polish hands through the waterfalls
say unfortunately you did not raise the daughter you imagined—
say i kissed a girl when the rain was only water
i kissed a boy behind the skate park in the picket woods
i held a friend as they fainted in the CVS shaving aisle
i kissed a girl at the pool on the top of her head
and her eyes flooded with a word i couldn’t form on my chest but i would
starveslimtucktugbindbreakwr e n c h it
bloody blended out of a body that slurred
sometime over the summer
curled hair fists against my skin and yells
did you mean Queer did you mean Queer did you mean Queer
and i cannot click yes beneath the
ban so do you mean queer
no i guess i’ll never
know i guess this means nothing
plus plus nothing nothing
Pastiche from Inside the Burn Barrel
This poem is constructed from the titles of over 50 books that have been removed, contested, or banned from U.S.A. school libraries.
This Book is / Ground zero.
This Book is / Dark materials.
This Book is / Why all boys crank the bones / to Kill.
This Book is / Growing up changing bodies / Clockwork and other parts / This Book is / a City of heavenly / Hate.
This Book is / Between the world / and You.
This Book is / the Dying girls / What girls aren’t / more Happy?
This Book is / Girls like us / What girls aren’t / Blue?
This Book is / a Class act / Reasons u give the Handmaids / Magenta l8r.
This Book is / Stamped Sex and Gender / Drama and the dressmaker.
This Book is / a White bird sold / Five six seven / Racism to justice / Antiracism, Woke.
This Book is / a Fun home / of Runners / of New kid hearts.
This Book is / the Absolutely true.
and this one Summer Flamer / to Kill / Ghost boys in the dream house / the Kite / the Ants / the Snowfish / the Breakaways—
and What’s his name / What’s his name? / queer / dark / ground / zero / a Good kind of trouble.
What’s his name? / a Wallflower-bluest eye / Looking for the perks / of Being / Extremely loud.
Speak, mockingbird / a Young poet’s call / on the Offbeat out of darkness.
This Book is / Perfectly normal.
This Book is / Incredibly close.
This Book is / Between the World / and Me.
Avery Yoder-Wells (they/them) is a trans, queer high school sophomore studying creative writing. Their work can be, or will be, found in the Portland Review, bs/ws, Polyphony Lit., Mausoleum Press, and elsewhere. They lurk on Twitter at @averyotherwise.
Interested in submitting to TEENS AGAINST THE BOOK BANS? We are still accepting submissions until we hit 50 submissions total and then will create a print anthology. Submit here.