We are all the circus and the circus must go on

Jack Terricloth, lead singer of punk band The World/Inferno Friendship Society, shown from the perspective of the band as he sings onstage at a bar. An enthusiastic audience faces him, gesturing and dancing as they sing along.
Jack Terricloth, lead singer of punk band The World/Inferno Friendship Society, shown from the perspective of the band as he sings onstage at a bar. An enthusiastic audience faces him, gesturing and dancing as they sing along.
The late Jack Terricloth leading a show by The World/Inferno Friendship Society at Baltimore’s Ottobar in 2014. Photo by Doug Glass, used with permission.

Friends, mourners, Infernites, lend me your ears;
I come to praise the scene, not bury it.
For though our hearts all sing impermanence,
And beat a fading tattoo in the dusk
That calls us home — wherever home may be —
Why must we sleep when we can steal the stars?

If we came from the dust, go to the grave,
Sang autumn songs of our sincerity,
Of cats and pumpkins, why fall silent now?
Was it just one voice screaming out those hymns?
Did we not sing along? Did we not dance?
Of course we did. …


A poem for Emma and her Night Visitor

Picture of a tattered blue and black butterfly reminiscent of a starry night sky
Picture of a tattered blue and black butterfly reminiscent of a starry night sky
Photo by Beckett Ruiz on Unsplash.

I will love you no matter how many
butterflies are in the bedroom,
no matter how many
spectral songs you hum,
no matter how many
times the soft fingers of the night
reach into your brain
to pluck out the void devouring it.

I will love you no matter how often
the earth shifts under your feet,
no matter how often
you come unstuck in time,
no matter how often
the star-bellied, galaxy-eyed night
returns in your dreams
to pull out the terminal void and crush it.

I will love you no matter how much
sleep-rending panic we have to swallow,
no…


This would be easier if “bridegroom” wasn’t taken

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

As any nonbinary person will tell you, living outside the strict definitions of “male” and “female” isn’t easy. And as any survivor of a self-planned wedding will tell you, neither is planning your wedding day. Combine the two and it can truly feel — to paraphrase Brian David Gilbert — like god has cursed you for your hubris and your work is never finished.

Trying to plan my wedding as a genderfluid person presented some unexpected challenges that the wedding planning books didn’t cover. Here are a few things I learned.

You’re either the bride, groom, or “other”

I hadn’t thought twice about what to call my…


I do it for him, and I’ll do it again

A hand holding up a heart-shaped piece of wrinkled gold foil against a pink, purple, blue, and gold background
A hand holding up a heart-shaped piece of wrinkled gold foil against a pink, purple, blue, and gold background
Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

If you want to know the truth about why I keep writing about trans and nonbinary things, it’s because I’m trying to save a man who’s already dead.

Let me back up. I’ve been getting some angry comments on my pieces in the past few months, both on Medium and in social media shares — some of which even tagged me to make sure I saw their disapproval. And I’ve tried my best to either ignore them or try to reply kindly when possible.

But frankly, it’s still getting to me. I constantly have to fight the urge to take…


You can’t always make everyone happy. But try anyway.

Brown tabby cat on a yellow bench. Modified from photo by Frederica Diliberto on Unsplash

The day before Thanksgiving three years ago, my mother and I had an argument over whether I could spend the early part of the holiday driving someone else’s cat halfway across the state.

I assured her that I’d be back in time for dinner, but she insisted that was impossible. Being told that it was impossible only made me more determined to try it, so the argument escalated quite a bit before I admitted defeat and told everyone involved in the cat transfer that it would have to wait until Saturday.

We were on the cusp of the holiday season…


Trans pro-tips for cis people

Photo of a statue facepalming. Image by karatara on Pexels.

Last month I accompanied my fiancée Emma to her good friend’s wedding, and before we continue I want to make it clear that said friend and most of the other guests were absolutely wonderful to both of us, greeting us with a lot of smiles and compliments.

That said, there was one bad conversation with one of Emma’s (cisgender) acquaintances and his partner that sticks in my memory. One that made me and Emma’s gender identities the center of our attention — without our consent.

The worst part of the conversation was that the other people involved meant well, as…


Because it isn’t rape when it happens to you, right?

A red neon sign reading “LAUGH” against a dark brick background
A red neon sign reading “LAUGH” against a dark brick background
Neon sign saying “LAUGH.” Modified by author from a photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

TW: Rape

Sometimes, you say nothing.

You know you should speak. You know that it’s better to say something, anything, even if it isn’t “no.” But you don’t. Why bother? You can’t talk with your mouth full.

You know you should push away — you want to push away — and you could, maybe. But you’re struggling to breathe, to not vomit, to do whatever it is that will get this over with quickly. You vomit a little anyway. You swallow it, and keep going. Maybe it’ll be over soon.

You know he’s choking you. But honestly, he’s always choking…


And why its popularity terrified me

Photo of the Milky Way as seen from Earth in the night sky, in shades of blue and purple
Photo of the Milky Way as seen from Earth in the night sky, in shades of blue and purple
The Milky Way in the night sky. Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Unsplash.

The weekend before they were due to leave on an epic road trip along all of Route 66, I went to visit my parents. As I sat down on their couch, my eyes settled on a few papers on my TV tray: printouts of my “What the Heck is Genderfluid?” articles.

“Oh shit,” I thought, “I guess this conversation’s finally happening.”

Don’t get me wrong, I have a good relationship with my parents. They’re very open-minded when it comes to just about everything, and I know they’ll love me no matter what. I don’t take that for granted.

But even…


Seize a life of radical cuteness

Hedgehog wearing a multicolored crown. Photo by Liudmyla Denysiuk on Unsplash.

Though not all nonbinary people choose to call themselves “enbies,” many of us do, and that is valid. And enbies like me have been seeing nonbinary people represented in the mainstream culture more and more.

However, the cis mainstream definition of nonbinary appears to be very narrow in scope. To be nonbinary, they tell us, means to fit a specific (skinny, white, able-bodied, effortlessly androgynous) aesthetic.

And that’s bullshit. It’s perfectly okay for someone to fit that mold and express themself that way, but not all enbies do. …


Author crowdsurfing after a stagedive. Photo by Doug Kavendek, used with permission.

Zanne Nilsson

Just another queer punk librarian who wants you to know you’re not broken. Rarely serious, always sincere. (They/them)

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