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twilight zones: A Collection of Poems by Alex Jane Cope

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A group of poems which excavate the intersections between the personal and political in lived experiences as a queer person within the United States.

Image: A digital illustration which depicts a long line of people on both sides of a long table in a dining hall impatiently waiting to see who walks through the door. Their plates are white and empty. The walls are green and the ceiling is light purple. Image by Tianna Garland

millicent barnes

who, in one minute,
will wonder if she is going mad


The title card fades

to your forehead

pressed against the backseat window

Sleepily, you watch

a Spirit Halloween flip
another Kmart

down the street


a Patrick Nagel pinup does
Frederick’s of Hollywood
at the Velvet Touch
lavender drips
down brick like
GIRLS
GIRLS
GIRLS do

your hand slips through the crack
in the window your hand

hits the pavement
thumb out

in the 7-11 parking lot 

where a youth pastor assaulted a cashier
to no consequences You, too, are sick

of driving through someone else’s Evangelical nightmare

grit in the nailbed shit on the billboard

a blood splattered ABORTION IS MURDER ultrasound lights up next to
an entire firm of MESOTHELIOMA?
YOU MAY BE ENTITLED FOR COMPENSATION lawyers
meanwhile
the KOEGEL’S: SERVE THE CURVE weiner floats somewhere between

WEBUYUGLYHOUSES.COM

and MARRIAGE IS 1 MAN + 1 WOMAN
ad nauseum

28th street guts everything around it:


the Dollar Tree begets
another Dollar General
America’s ceaseless war greases the wheel of every

car dealership on this fucking street

The strip malls change,

but my rage stays the same


after hours

The club walks into you as an optical illusion and you fall out from its center with no parachute. The angels have stopped taking calls; they redirect you to the depressed dyke hotline where a bored crisis counselor soothes you with warm “mm-hmms” as she does her wrist exercises for the evening.

There’s a little bit of cigarette left in the ashtray. You light it and feel the cherry coming on. Later,

to really grasp the meaning of “bittersweet”
you lay back with the singer whose anger must find a softer way of being.
What is the price of all this softness? The price of anger
you eject

the tape from your body and toss it over your shoulder with a fist full of salt. The recording crackles its way out of planned obsolescence like ha-ha bitch, didn’t you see me coming? What goes around
comes around with almost uncanny
precision after hours


the truth is out there

The man who abused the man who abused is dead and I am not talking
about the celebrity rapist 

or a contusion of lost nights 

when my time’d be better spent hammering

at the house I’ll bury myself in if I am not deliberate

glitch in the timeline behind the couch my sister and her husband watch X-Files

his father is still alive I don’t

want to kill I’m too in love with Agent Scully and the truth in her scalpel but the truth is
no truth can truly

be known under the badge 

of empire the white American suburb contracts

its ultimatums: perform its experiments

or become the experimented 

but the truth is one can occupy both positions at once
I want to believe
something else 

is possible

in the living room time bends in all directions and there are choices to be made


sketch in a crisis

I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in Lisa.

I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in Lisa
at the bookshop,
dressing a blue candle
with orris root, yarrow and clustered
everlasting,
spider at the register.
I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in Lisa
backstage at Urgent Care,
long-haired butch

with heavy bags
beneath her eyes, she looked so like
the squat dykes of a near distant past
que je me suis tapé.e un fou rire,
a bout of hysterical laughter
on the brink
An orange headlight glows
between the window panes
like a ring of candles
You wonder what Heaven looks like
in these all divas on deck
kinds of situation—
Lazarus in metallic boxer briefs
rolling on the dance floor

to the kind of club mix that keeps people alive for the night.
Here, I am reminded of this old butch Maëlle knows
who’s navigated the absurd intricacies of French bureaucracy
for friends of friends of friends since the 1980s,
hounding doctors and tracking down the unemployment check that’s been lost, for months,
in administration.
In Other Words:
the kind of dyke who had to learn the art 

of being a pain in the ass because everyone around her was dying.
After years of tending to catastrophe
“elle est un peu folle” Maëlle told me,
after years of tending to catastrophe
We are hungry

for something beyond belief


About the author: Alex Jane Cope is a poet and translator originally from West Michigan and currently based in Chicago. Previously, they lived in and around Paris, where they organized a multilingual queer and feminist reading series out of a dyke bar. In 2019-2020, they ran the Suppertime Writing Workshop through the PO Box Collective, which brought people together monthly for a free meal, a discussion of a few short texts, and accompanying writing prompts. Their work has appeared in publications by The Rumpus, Pilot Press London, and Hooligan Magazine.

Tianna Garland HS

About the illustrator: Tianna Garland is an illustrator and animator based in Chicago. Originally from the metro Detroit area, Tianna moved to Chicago to pursue her degree in graphic design in 2012. Aside from her interests in visual arts, Tianna is also a music enthusiast and enjoys curating playlists. You can view more of her work at tiannagarland.com or IG: @oh_heyt.

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