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Two Poems by Avery Yoder-Wells

Updated: Jul 12, 2022

ways to write Queer on our school computers

qu/eer studies

qu33r history

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


Q slur

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

say this—

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

et al.

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.

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