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We announce the world first
existed in the form of a human body without
mouth or eyes / without limbs or lungs /
without glands or genitalia / without necessity
of food / without motion / without empathy
/ without virus or vaccine / poison or antidote
/ so we became the first virus / & we became
our own vaccine // We became open mouths
& closed eyes // We became legions of cold
compassion thrumming in a spacious forever /
/ flailing architects constructing intricately
engineered endings // Over & over // For
everyone / everything // More monstrous /
more energetic / more insensate / more
infernal // Bodies like sword-wielding
skeletons slashed apart then reforming again &
again until a fire-greased weapon unfurls them
for good / bodies like drainage canals / bodies
like drain cleaner / bodies like ant poison /
bodies like battleground states / bodies like
badlands / bodies like butterfly knives / bodies
like broken touchscreens / bodies like
breathtaking vistas of bodily hell / bodies like
empty penthouses / bodies like empty infinity
pools / bodies like empty stomachs / bodies
like empty eye sockets / bodies like empty food
courts / bodies like empty milk cartons /
bodies like empty playgrounds / bodies like
empty classrooms // Where you expect to find
ocean you only find whalefall / recycling /
crumbling forests of bleached coral // Where
you expect to find clarity & awe you find
cosmetic & pharmaceutical pollutants // You
can’t stop listening for sounds that will never
be made again / because the listening comforts
you / but the listening hurts & the comfort
hurts / grinding your teeth to the rhythm of
the dead refrigerator’s hum // Our sweat is cold
& culpable // We toss & turn & braid with the
sheets / put our ears to each other’s chests
expecting to hear heartbeats / instead finding
dial tones / yearning for blues & greens you’ve
never found in the flesh // So many bright
rooms with no people inside // So many tangles
of rain molding our homes from the inside //
So easy to hide the profane from the sacred /
to pretend the sirens surrounding us are
nothing more than silence // Your cadaver lies
supine in a tranquil field of lavender //

Adam Fell is the author of Catastrophizer, winner of the Sixth Finch 2022 Chapbook Contest, and two books of poetry: Dear Corporation, (Forklift Books, 2019) and I Am Not A Pioneer (2011). You can find out more at
Current Issue
27 Mar 2023

close calls when / I’m with Thee / dressed to the nines
they took to their heels but the bird was faster.
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I’ve come to think of trans-inclusive worldbuilding as an activist project in itself, or at least analogous to the work of activists. When we imagine other worlds, we have to observe what rules we are creating to govern the characters, institutions, and internal logic in our stories. This means looking at gender from the top down, as a regulatory system, and from the bottom up, at the people on the margins whose bodies and lives stand in some kind of inherent opposition to the system itself.
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