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"object permanence: queer death", "another poem about skipping communion", "pills not of killing" by Liam Strong

object permanence: queer death

i troweled loam last summer for this, 

a pine sapling, loitered with creeping charlie, door-

knobs of little cabbages. pink geranium hustled

by bittercress, seeds puckered onto my wrists 

like a rash of bullet casings. what’s left is wind. 

if i don’t claw the earth 

from the earth, more & more 

genitals return. wild turkey thrash 

at the mulch regardless of the silver 

tongue of bird tape. most houses build around 

their canopies. in a decade, i’ll have to tie the pine 

limbs with bungee cord. saplings don’t fall 

when they’re this young—if a tree collapses 

in the forest, shouldn’t they all

fall? silence is often a cacophony 

of what we don’t notice. i’ll never

not leaf blow pine needles from the driveway

mouth. an object of sense wants to be 

sensed; my arm wants to bear fruit; leaves

want to be made into parasails. every branch 

a windchime, every helix of vine 

a rope. at some point fertility 

means a lack thereof. i’m so, so very old 

of what makes my nails any less

shovels. i’d bury all my trowels, burn every seed. 

memory is lost with

or without trees encompassing us. i water 

the garden even when it’s November,

sky all plume, every bed an expense

of flourishing. each time i stand up from my sweat,

i’m only laying down. against

a pillar of wrinkled copper, i think i hear

splinters. even if i saw a tree fall,

i wouldn’t find what caused it. 

i just don’t know a body when 

i see one.


another poem about skipping communion 

respecting a body is like respecting a place of worship. to burn a church, then, condones a kind of unconditional love borne of mutual resentment towards what deserves our hate. & in tandem our love. this unconditional hate, to make sanctum our bodies with defacement & pyre & crumb’s pecked from each other’s chest. i hate you so much i could die & be happy. i hate you so much i could be happy. i hate you so much that i want to open a vegetable stand where squashes & fungi & churches don’t grow just so i could feed you with everything my blood can manage. i hate you so much that buildings cascade while i kneel at your opening, your door of amber & ether. i hate you so much i could love you. it’s not possible. it’s not possible to love beyond what flames & living & oxygen allows us. i can’t name a church or body or image that doesn’t involve a form. i have to imagine something. i have to imagine. maybe that’s the problem with love & loving & loving you & not loving you. that buildings & canyons & skies & whatever else you can imagine have to contain you. that we give each other form. replacing every body with respect is like dousing worship with our embers. respect is not enough.


pills not of killing

1. cliches, i.e. the ones difficult for the digestive tract

2. pill bugs! 

3. swallowing

4. swallowing you

5. fleece work uniform pilling with unnamed detritus

6. not-foreign foreign names written around various cylinders

7. neurodivergent bfs & gfs who are way too into Dostoyevsky 

8. thought sentences

9. my father’s rhetorical questions

10. adderall, lithium, risperidone, sertraline, etc etc etc 

11. bowie’s death

12. bowie’s life

13. a non-death experience

14. an act that does not involve swallowing

15. an act that does not involve fear

16. an act that does not involve living

Liam Strong (they/them) is a queer neurodivergent writer who owns two Squishmallows, three Buddhas, a VHS of Cats The Musical, and somewhere between four and eight jean jackets. They are the author of the chapbook Everyone's Left the Hometown Show (Bottlecap Press, 2023). 

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