Made in America
By Arin Zarles

Some people believe in the American dream—
believe in it like a religion.
Others say both died in a suicide pact.

My name is not my own, so how do I believe
any of it? Soul searching, I dial the operator
on a wallphone, twisting the cord like a lock

of hair, and ask for the name of a person
born but without a birth certificate.
I dream not about marriage or millions or mine own:

The soccer mom van can drive itself off a cliff
when the family’s not in the seats, brake stuck
to the floormats like peanut butter gluing

the tongue inside a wordless mouth and unopened lips.
But I take a moment, while god has me on hold,
and consider myself as the driver

outside the car, leaning against it all my weight,
trying to stop tons of proud American aluminum
from falling—watching it execute a perfect Olympic dive.

Thank You for the Carrots
By Arin Zarles

Professor mentions “the medical definition of lesbianism.”
I wonder if he’s only interested in spewing forth
these hate crimes because he fantasizes

about the author and her “female main character”
recorded by a bedroom camera in [1913].
Meanwhile I distract myself from setting off

medical, chromosomal, homosexual glitter bombs
by thinking of vegetables. Oh, the things I can do
with a carrot. [Thank you, imagination].

If only looks could kill, our whole
book-group-turned-Bible-study would sour from grapes
turned str*ight to vinegar. The professor

suggests we try rosé—but the pink tone
doesn’t mean he’s gay. Professor, some of us
are drunk already.

This Is How You’re Making Me Hate You
By Arin Zarles

Go ahead and ask me. Maybe you can learn
why I say fuck the nuclear family hour.
Give me a Disney prince(ss), queer, secure,

and self-assured. A house is just four walls,
you’ve forgotten, a crib-like iron crime
to crumble into ammo for a gun;

but this home—like paper—burns. I’ve let go of
it all: daddies, gods, and other givens.
Am I gunshot, blood clot, or afterthought?

You only think you know why I never got
the brothers and sisters other children
received for happy birthdays, love

by mommies bought. I’ve never wanted one
with whom I could remember fonder times
of playing football with Barbie dolls.

Devoutly skeptical I’ve become, unsure
of the father, holy or otherwise. His power
is a page I can chew and swallow to scorn.

America is a Killing Name
By Arin Zarles

and if I die tomorrow, would you please
politicize my death? It would mean
a lot to me to stand beside my sisten,
all twenty-six of them, raised and born,
like livestock, to die. Killed by fear and scorn,
they and she were caught and clocked for disease

no one but those among our family
already can catch. 2018
and tragedy keeps striking unseen,
the last our deadliest year on record. Ever.
The community is not a cutting board,
but isn’t this true, already, to me?

I know how different things would seem
if someone on another side were it,
victim of manslaughter for an outfit—
we’d know the name and pronouns to call him,
to honor him, not just a pseudonym
pushed by one or two femme zines.

America would know instantly if blue
were targeted for eternal rest!
The women can’t rest in peace their best
with this fear, overwhelming and real,
of dying just trying to live. We’ll
fight for them and know their name debut.

I think about them often: Goddesses,
every one, in their own favorite ways.
Too, I think about myself in this craze.
Not just a phase, a daze, to me it’s truth.
For that, could I be killed too? The voting booth
allows it. President makes that promise.

Arin Zarles is currently earning a Master’s Degree in Literature at the University of Toledo in Ohio. His interests as an author include themes of identity, mental health, and bad puns. He has also edited for his undergraduate literary arts magazine. Perhaps disappointingly, he is not an international criminal mastermind of any type.