Valeska Soares, “Epilogue” (2017) (detail), mixed media, 47 x 218.75 x 46 in (image courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York, © 2017 Valeska Soares)


when i show you the illicit
behind a fiberoptic veil —
obstruction is a kind of foreplay.
yes — this is an intentional seduction.

this behind is a fiberoptic veil
i build an economy on anything i can.
yes — this intentional seduction
is suppose to be a delight.

build this economy on anything i can’t.
my taste is acquired, so take your time.
suppose, this is a delight —
the mystery, yours to solve.

you take & taste my acquired time.
take what wilts from my lips —
you — the only mystery unsolved.
i can never stop questioning my mouth.

take all that wilts, my lips.
where every fantasy i try leaves me dead —
i can never stop talking about my mouth.
here, my tongue is bile & tomorrow.

they leave me dead in every fantasy i try —
the overgrown prophecy i am to witness.
bile becomes swallow here & tomorrow —
some end time we have already faced.

the prophecy lives to overgrow the witness.
no future belongs to my body.
these end-times we already face.
my testimony is the absolute of what i know.

i belong to the future in my body —
will truth survive the transmission?
i testify in absolutes of what i can not know.
what do we make of the delay?

what will survive the transmission?
reveal the half-life of the illicit,
unmake myself as a means of delay
watch for the obstructive foreplay.

*   *   *

jayy dodd is a blxk trans femme from Los Angeles, California, now based on the internet. They are a literary and performance artists, with an editorial and digital media practice. Their work has appeared or will appear in places your favorite writers write. They’re the author of Mannish Tongues (Platypus Press 2017) and The Black Condition ft. Narcissus (Siren Song / CCM Press 2018). They are a Pushcart Prize nominee and co-editor of Bettering American Poetry. Their work has been featured in Teen Vogue and the Poetry Foundation. Find them talking trash online or taking a selfie.

Readers are encouraged to submit 3–5 poems as a PDF to Wendy Xu for consideration at

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Wendy Xu

Wendy Xu is the author of the poetry collections Phrasis (Fence, 2017), winner of the 2016 Ottoline Prize, and You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013). The recipient...