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after Stephanie Burt, and after Grant Morrison’s New X-Men (2001-2004)

    I tell Trish I’m not interested in a relationship with a human being right now, in fact I’m gay,
I think, and she is stunned. I run away because of the intruder alert signaling battle
from below the fireworks commemorating mutants, and Trish looks white
in the night’s dark and she yells back at me as I run that I am just a beast
and that she shouldn’t have ever loved me, she’ll report it all to the news, that the blue
and furry teacher of children is homosexual yet loves science,

as if that has anything to do with science.
My desire,                                           being gay
is who I need to be. I could be accepted as blue
and not engage again and again in the battle
between my color and hair and what I used to be, not a beast
per se, but still an opposable-toed homunculus, white.

Cyclops gives me shit, ignores he’s having an affair with the White
Queen (what we called her when she was more obviously a villain) and I don’t need to be a scientist
to know that sexuality, gender, and species don’t make the man a beast,
but only language, and so I tell smug Cyclops that I’m as gay
as the next mutant, and that all mutants find themselves within battles
in which they are simultaneously alone and part of a whole, and that I’m blue

makes it all the clearer for me that it is the color of my fur, blue,
that has made me the Other more than Cyclops, the white
Boy Scout so good with order and appointed leader for battle,
while it is the lab that made me my color without my consent. Science
is how I am relevant for much of my publication history, and now I’m gay,
so the metaphor expands, and I remind the world my name is Beast.

I tell Jean I fear of waking up as Gregor Samsa or a beastly
virus designed to kill mutants: I don’t have it in me to cure another plague. People magazine has me extra blue
behind the white backdrop of the front-page exclaiming “I’m as gay
as it gets” and the text rests above an update on the Brangelina situation. The White
Queen sees it and reminds me that she can read my mind and I tell her I know the science
and that she should prepare for battle.

I told the Professor ten years ago I tire of battle
and wish to remain in the lab to cure the first virus. He tells me I will always be Beast
to him, vicious and determined and calculating enough to make the science
work. I tell him there is much that goes into the science beyond beakers—I’ll soon write Blue
Like Me to challenge notions of language, gender, and species, and the white
nationalists can panic that not only am I blue and mutant but also gay.

My phenotypes are human, ape, and feral, and I suppose I’m gay
too, my skin having been white, then blue, then white,
then blue again, and in some ways I can’t explain I’ll always be blue.

Xander Gershberg (he/him) is a bisexual poet and educator, and part of Spout Press’s editorial collective. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in Poetry Online, Great River Review, and the minnesota review online blog. He is completing an MFA in poetry at Virginia Tech, where he teaches writing.
Current Issue
18 Sep 2023

Ama’s arm rested protectively around the girl’s shoulder as the giant bird glided above, its head angling right to left. Violet-black wings soared across a cloudless sky, blocking the sun’s midday rays and swathing sections of the village in deep shadow. Given its size, this argentavis was one of her first, but too far above for her to differentiate by name. Even across the distance, Ama could feel its heartbeat synced to hers, their lives intertwined until death.
She is leaving the world that is pink with desire, on her gray cardboard rocket ship.
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