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queer by proximity
Caseyrenée Lopez
Writer of the Month


to them i’m queer by proximity,
a multiple-choice question with
more than one right answer, 
or i’m a trick question, but
you can never tell

look at that silly woman, that
person with curvy features

look at that femme [the scoff
no longer implied]—isn’t she
pretty—oh, i’m sorry, i know
you prefer they them 

i know queerness doesn’t exist
for a person with large breasts

or for a person who can’t decide
if they’re in love with masculinity
or the freedom it affords you

then it happens again, clockwork: 

standing alone, in line to buy frozen
peas, yes ma’am, he licks his lips—
i’m something like meat, raw & decadent
& always bleeding—even vegetarian
bros who squawk he & she are equals
want to consume the meat of me

in sweatpants at the gas station: 
hey boo, you gotta man? 

in a dress standing in a crowded parking lot:
hey sexy, you want this dick? 

or my favorite, in my own front yard, 
5 feet from the front door:
“hey girl, hey girl.” 
not woman, not femme, but girl. 
a child. 
always alone. 
always a target. 
a walking bullseye

then not alone, but with him
or with them & still meat. 

still queer by my proximity
to his visible queerness, 
still queer by my glances
in his direction, & always
misread, always a mistaken
identity—a second guess—
always a ghost in the room, 
a person seen through, a mirror

a lonely housewife longing
to be seen, gazing out the kitchen
window, wholly invisible

then femme as in why are you
always so angry, or femme as in
why are you always begging for

never femme as in this makes
me whole, or femme as in this
makes me in-between living & 
dying & man & woman & 
masculine & feminine—

& never enby

always what’s that

then back to not existing
on this plane of space-time, 

but instead I’m wrapped neatly
somewhere in-between, 
tied into a slipknot, 

always sliding up & down

Originally from Georgia, Caseyrenée Lopez relocated with their family to Virginia in the summer of 2017. Caseyrenée works as a professor of English at John Tyler Community College. They are the author of two full-length collections of poetry, the new gods (Bottlecap Press, March 2018) and i was born dead (About Editions, October 2018), as well as a chapbook heretic bastard (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, forthcoming). In addition to teaching and writing, Caseyrenée also edits Crab Fat Magazine and publishes poetry and experimental work by queer and trans people at Damaged Goods Press. They tweet @caseyreneelopez.