ALL ACCOUNTS & MIXTURE: Submissions open June 1, and wow—a print anthology is on the way!

All Accounts & Mixture:
A Celebration of LGBTQ Writers and Artists

Since the summer of 2014, CutBank's All Accounts and Mixture has showcased poetry, prose, visual art, reviews, and interviews in a forum for LGBTQ writers whose voices might be mis- or underrepresented by the literary mainstream. 

This summer, CutBank will expand on this tradition by not only publishing our contributors' work online but also by collecting this year's work with all previous All Accounts pieces in a five-year print anthology! 

Submit your best, and become a part of this new collection!

Submissions open June 1st through July 1st via our Submittable page. You'll find full guidelines there, and, as always, there will be no submission fee.

Revisit all of last summer's amazing writers here!


ALL ACCOUNTS AND MIXTURE: "The Birth of Venus, c. 1486" by Hadley Griggs

The Birth of Venus, c. 1486

by Hadley Griggs

The autumn after I broke up with my boyfriend, I cut my hair. Ropes of curls dropping to the floor, strings of protein I would never see again. Cut hair and it falls softly, surrendering without feeling like you’ve cut off a body part, but burn it and it still smells like burning flesh. When my mom was a teenager working at McDonald’s, her hair was always sticky with french-fry grease. A coworker with a lighter got too close—singe hair and it smells like singed woman. Even here, ocean-side, a candle held to the tips of Aphrodite’s hair lights up like a fuse, wraps through her fingers and around her back and leaves her crowned in flesh-smelling flames. Are you sure? the stylist asked me, her acrylic nails curving over the grips of her scissors. It’s so pretty long. Later, my old boyfriend would send me photos, always the same: his open palm, a solitary bobby pin. Found this in the carpet. Or, This one up against the floorboard. I hadn’t touched a bobby pin in months, and my hair now tickled the bone at the top of my spine—and here, does Aphrodite crave this feeling, the hairs wisping down below her collarbone, down between her thighs? On autumn Saturday nights, the check-out girl at my grocery store has a dark, messy braid that hangs over her shoulder. It casts shadows on her neck, makes her jaw look like a crisp country road. I hand her my crumpled bills and think maybe I miss the feeling of a braid draped over my own shoulder, so that I could say I too, I too, I too. And on your own quiet nights, Aphrodite, reclining nude on the beach, do you look out at the water, remember the drops of blood and the sea foam, the way the red marbled in the bubbles like the afterbirth, or like needlework on Northern drapes, or like red hair tangled—permanently, painfully—among the rocks and shells and fish spines?


About the Author:
Hadley Griggs just graduated in English and likes to write stories about sad people. This is her first publication out of college. She's also a level 14 rogue in Dungeons & Dragons.

About All Accounts:
All Accounts and Mixture is an annual online feature celebrating the work of LGBTQ writers and artists. For this series, we seek work from authors who self-identify as "queer," while acknowledging that this designation is subjective and highly personal. Our goal is to provide a forum for writers whose voices might be mis- or underrepresented by the literary mainstream. Submissions open May 18th and run through June 19th. Poetry, prose, visual art, reviews and interviews will all be considered.



ALL ACCOUNTS AND MIXTURE: Prose from Kat Williams

Mirror || Man

 by Kat Williams

 

Masculinity is fragile, or so I’ve heard.

--

My boyfriend and I speak of our attractions to athletes. Men. Which shortstop has the best ass? Which college cornerback’s facial hair is most appealing? I’m into kickers. He likes outfielders. He wonders out of aspiration, out of desire to become. He thinks my perspective is different.

Do you think my perspective is different?

My sister and I used to shoot hoopsin our mom’s driveway. My sister cooperated because I forced her to. I played as Marcus Fizer, Iowa State’s 6’8’’ 265 lb star small forward. I loved that a man six feet eight inches tall could have the word “small” in his position’s name. I loved the dark-haired clefts of his muscled armpits and his smooth-shaven head. I wore his kids’ replica jersey one size too big, number 5 in cardinal and gold announced on my stomach instead of my chest. My sister fed me the ball as I drove to the basket and turned a 180, heaving the shot backwards over my head. Sometimes I imagined so hard that I could feel the cold metal of the rim against my fingertips. My sister hated basketball, but she got pretty good at chest passes.

When Fizer got picked in the first round of the 2000 NBA draft, I cried in front of my dad’s 18 -inch television, TNT coming in fuzzy and inaudible. My dad asked if I was crying and I said no. At school, I said I wanted to be in the WNBA when I grew up, but I was lying. I wanted to play for the Chicago Bulls.

He goes to the gym now. My boyfriend, I mean. He didn’t work out before he started dating me. He now knows what traps are, can distinguish between front and rear delts. I do barbell work--deadlifts, cleans, bench presses with endless varied grips--in order cling to a superior sort of masculinity. But the proof is in the body: he lays claim to a chiseled V of oblique, his pectorals have swelled convex. My pecs have grown, too, but they remain obscured by breast tissue. I am soft and curved still, no abdominal muscles in sight.

Which NBA player’s dick is the biggest, do you think? I hate to admit I’m a size queen. What do you call a man concerned with up-and-out-sizing other men’s dicks? A man, I suppose.

I played sports when I was a child because athletic proficiency gave me access to boys and their bodies. I liked to watch the tendons stretch behind their knees as we sucked down Capri Suns on the soccer field sidelines. Ethan’s were the most prominent, though Matt M’s came in close second. Tyler had egg-like muscles that protruded from the outer edges of his legs just above the knee. At my mom’s house after the games, I would rotate my hips in the mirror, searching for those tendons. I never found them. I found flesh--so much fat, so much skin.

There were boys whose bodies looked as soft as mine, or even softer. Some of them were good at flag football. I didn’t talk to them, didn’t stare. Their bodies were of no use to me.

The placement of a body before a mirror is a plea for self-recognition, and neither the self in front of the mirror nor the self reflected in it are stable. The difference is that the self in the mirror is allowed to be a body, nothing more. Would I be satisfied with leaner thighs and apenis, hulkish traps and ham-hocked, vascular forearms? Me, no. But mirror-me? Perhaps.

My favorite NBA player, once Fizer disappeared into the benches, was Allen Iverson. Every time he committed an inexcusable act, my idolatry of him expanded unchecked. After I read in Sports Illustrated that he went to prison at 17 for (allegedly) breaking a chair over a woman’s body in a bowling alley, I asked for his special edition MVP jersey for Christmas.

My dad worked as a bouncer when he retired from his trucking career and he taught me about the intricacies of bar fights. Never get into a fight over a woman, he told me. The stakes are too high. But sports and politics are fair game. He showed me how to put a bigger man in a choke hold, how to leverage against someone much stronger. I don’t know why I’m showing you this, he laughed. You’ll never have to use it.

I don’t deny that my obsession with athletic men’s bodies is informed by a particular fetishization of the athletic black body. It wasn’t just professional basketball. I wanted to be Tyson, Holyfield, and Mayweather. I wanted a camera to watch me throw an uppercut against another black man’s jaw.  Even of the boys on the soccer field with me, the ones I admired most were black.

I didn’t want to be a black man or a black boy. I wanted to be an overworked, televised black body. I wanted a crowd to roar at the exposure of my muscles, my skill, my masculinity.

Kevin Love possesses the NBA’s one white body that has ever transfixed me, though in a wholly different way. I stare at before and after shots of his 30-pound weight loss from the ESPN Body Issue. I run my eyes like fingertips over the places where his skin hugs bone and muscle tightly, the hum of anIT band like a violin string, the hollows beginning to form beneath his cheeks. The shoot’s lighting is meant to highlight every shadow of striation. I look at these photos and I see my reflection as it was in the days before I checked myself into treatment: hungry and wanting, but so satisfied with the degree of want I had achieved.

My senior year of high school, I told my dad I applied to five Ivy League schools and he asked if I had heard about work available on fishing boats in Alaska. I think you’d be good at that, he said. Six years later, I told him I had a boyfriend, my first he ever knew of. He made the requisite joke about grabbing his shotgun, but then relented. I guess if this boy needs lesson learning, you’ll wring his neck yourself.

I measure masculinity’s toxicity by the inches of my imagined dick. A tape measure monitors the circumference of my reality-bound chest and biceps. A woman in a white jacket with a pencil through her hair once measured the length of my cervical canal in centimeters to make sure the IUD would fit. Good news, she said. Yours is plenty long. I wish I had been more satisfied to hear this.

He told me he always wanted two daughters, that my sister and I were the outcome he’d hoped for. My mom said he was lying, that during her first pregnancy he had hoped for a son.

I am afraid of how easily I can imagine adapting to life as a man. I am good at interrupting people, especially women. I love to forget my privilege and feel self-righteously wounded when I am criticized. I once sat with my knees widely splayed at a funeral, back hunched with elbows planted on thighs. My sister pressed her knee against mine and whispered, You’re taking up way too much space.

But wouldn’t this apply to life as a cisgender heterosexual man, not the trans man I could be? Oh. Did you think we were dealing in realities, actual bodily earth-bound possibilities? I’m sorry to have misled you.

Wait, I take that back. A man would not be sorry.

At the beginning of high school, I was into skater boys. They had that don’t-give-a-fuck swagger I couldn’t pull off, but they also had bodies marked by lanky sinew, narrow shoulders and streamlined calves. Their bodies never showed in the weight room, where a series of social studies teachers criticized my hang cleans and told me to keep eating, eating, eating. Our school’s state champion shotputter would graduate soon and the coaches wanted me to catch up. But she was 6’2’’,  her ass wider than my shoulders. She could bench press two of me. She was black, if you were wondering. We all knew I would never be her.

That weight room, like most weight rooms, was lined with mirrors. The mirrors covered three walls, the fourth wall a floor-to-ceiling window. Through the window I watched the skater boys pop easy ollies and fall off of the building’s entry rails, their oversized t-shirts billowing away from their chests, the points of their knees slicing open their faded black jeans, the air. I lifted a barbell over my head a prescribed number of times and dropped it to the padded floor. Face the mirror, a coach would call to me, and bring your shoulders to your ears.

I always expect a dropped barbell to clang louder than it does.

The simplest way for an assigned-at-birth female to acquire what will be perceived as a man’s body is to become smaller. That is how you lose your hips, bring your waist-to-bust ratio closer to one. The other option is to gain muscle. A lot of it. But genetics govern the results of the second option far more than the first. And even then, mirrors make promises they can’t keep.

The mind is not the same as the body, is it? But without the mind, a body in the mirror can’t be perceived. So the mirror self does not exist--the reflection as existence is an impossibility. Mind, body, mirror: they get in the way of each other’s understanding.

\

--

In Laramie, Wyoming, I enter myself in an amateur boxing match held at the Cowboy Saloon. Men in socks and underwear wait to be weighed near the bar’s back wall. There are enough of them for eight or nine bouts. I assume that if another woman does show up, our fight will be first, a warmup for the crowd. When I sign my name on the injury waiver, though, the fight’s organizer claps with excitement. There’s one other girl who wants to fight tonight, he says. You’ll go last. Give everyone something sexy to look forward to.

The bar fills to capacity even though they’re not allowing alcohol. I watch inexperienced bantamweights zip around each other, avoiding, neither of them throwing a punch. I watch one man clad in nothing but swim trunks take a single tepid blow to the jaw and fall over, out cold. When my bout begins, my opponent doesn’t tap the glove I offer and charges me instead, hooking her elbow around my head and throwing me to the ground like we’re in an octagon instead of a smaller-than-regulation square. The ref gives her a warning. In the third round, I work her into the corner and punch her headgear-padded temples until she’s no longer defending herself, slack against the ropes but still standing, and the ref calls a technical knockout. The crowd goes wild. I had them on my side the whole time.

On my way out, men I’ve never seen before and never will again stop me to say things like Way to take that cunt out and You gave the bitch the beating she deserved. I shake their hands or dap their fists and say, Thank you.

Is it too much to want, to want to watch a very straight white woman in red lipstick and a tight black dress choke on my very real black cock?

I am always wanting too much, and wanting the wrong thing entirely.


About the Author:
Kat Williams is a trashsexual dog mom and writer of essays and short stories. They lived two years in Wyoming for the sake of art and lived to tell the tale.

About All Accounts:
All Accounts and Mixture is an annual online feature celebrating the work of LGBTQ writers and artists. For this series, we seek work from authors who self-identify as "queer," while acknowledging that this designation is subjective and highly personal. Our goal is to provide a forum for writers whose voices might be mis- or underrepresented by the literary mainstream. Submissions open May 18th and run through June 19th. Poetry, prose, visual art, reviews and interviews will all be considered.



ALL ACCOUNTS AND MIXTURE: Two New Poems from R. Flowers Rivera

Homeplace

Past tense: clear dusks I remember a feeling, an image, grit in the eye.
A place embedded like a splinter I can’t quite reach. Grove Hill, a voice
buried within that refuses to answer back. All my life, in any place,
for no reason, my grandfather’s 280 acres call out my name. Free and clear.
Sister Gary, Gay, Gaynette. But all those stale breaths have gone somewhere
else. Cool dirt, open graves. I have outlived them all. My recollections
remain imperfect as I tell and re-tell the tales. As they are—or were
—not necessarily as I would’ve chosen them. A people without luster,
napworn yet proud. Unlearned, but not ignorant. The Grove Hill of memory
has plum-flowered chinaberry trees festooning the fence-line, just off
Highway 43. It’s still blooming, it still holds last year’s ornaments. Birds
scatter the golden berries everywhere. I know I’m nearing home. Drought.
We endured difficult times, growing from that hard, red clay. I’m still here.
Just to be clear, being hot and humid ain’t suffering. All grief is not death.
 

Gulf of Mexico, 1969

                 after Hurricane Camille

Don’t
tell me
about rapidly forming
perfect storms, 
about a kiss
that can transport you
through the blandness
of living. I am that
with him. But
I opened the egret
feathers he brought
as a gift. And I knew
they required
the wholesale destruction
of the nest.
I see now
how my date’s
idea of beauty,
of perfection
will require
nothing less than
my death. Only then
he won’t be satisfied
because I won’t be
here to comfort him
in his grief.


About the Author:
R. Flowers Rivera is a Mississippi native who now lives in McKinney, Texas. Her second collection of poetry, Heathen, was released in February 2015. It was selected as the winner of the 2015 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award as well as the 2016 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Award. Rivera's debut collection of poetry, Troubling Accents), received a nomination from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters and was selected by the Texas Association of Authors as its 2014 Poetry Book of the Year. It was published by Xavier Review Press in July 2013. Dr. Rivera has an Ph.D. from Binghamton University, an M.A. from Hollins University, an M.S. from Georgia State University, and a B.S. from The University of Georgia. She is a guest lecturer in creative writing at the University of Texas at Dallas.

About All Accounts:
All Accounts and Mixture is an annual online feature celebrating the work of LGBTQ writers and artists. For this series, we seek work from authors who self-identify as "queer," while acknowledging that this designation is subjective and highly personal. Our goal is to provide a forum for writers whose voices might be mis- or underrepresented by the literary mainstream. Submissions open May 18th and run through June 19th. Poetry, prose, visual art, reviews and interviews will all be considered.



ALL ACCOUNTS AND MIXTURE: "Five Things Big Girls Can’t Do" by Tai Farnsworth

Tai Farnsworth.JPG

Five Things Big Girls Can’t Do

By Tai Farnsworth

1:  Imagine you’re at a BJ’s Brewery. If you’re unfamiliar with this particularly fabulous chain of mediocrity, you can substitute any place that blasts early 2000 rock (think Linkin Park or Uncle Kracker) while serving middling food and cheap drinks – ie: Chili’s, Applebee’s, anything with an apostrophe.
            While your dining companions chat away about pizza, the Beatles, and the disconcerting shade of maroon that occupies fifty percent of the restaurant’s color palette, you realize you need to go to the bathroom. The best part of the bathroom experience at this brand of restaurants is your increased ability to hear all the nostalgic rock. At this point you’re hoping for something from the Spiderman soundtrack. The original Spiderman, none of this Andrew Garfield nonsense they peddle to the youths these days. You push open the door; three rowdy girls in Technicolor leggings and barely anything else brush past you. Nickleback fills the marbled room as you head toward the back, toward the handicap stall, toward the toilet with the most room.
            You can tell the stall is empty. But when you get closer, you realize – something has happened here. It’s impossible to say what, but the potential situations run the gamut from a rambunctious toddler let loose to some kind of satanic cult ritual. Regardless, it’s not great. And you certainly can’t pee in here. With a quick weighing of the pros and cons, you decide to just use another stall. You could hold it, but who knows how long your friends will be hypnotized by the low-lights and scuffed pleather of the dining room. It’s a risk you can’t take. Your hand has been forced.
            Of course, headlining the con list is the lack of space in the standard stall. What the hell is standard about putting your size twenty body in a size fourteen space? Sure, you physically fit inside, but at a cost. The door swings in, so you’re forced to squish around it to become properly situated. You turn carefully, doing your best not to disrupt the toilet paper or the seat covers and as you do so the inevitable happens – your leg lightly brushes the porcelain of a toilet seat that has held countless butts. And not just butts. Given the typical clientele of such establishments, there has certainly been excessive imbibing and the associated puking. Frankly, any matter of bodily fluid could have made its way into and around this space. And now it’s all on your legs.
            The rest of your bathroom experience is haunted by what you’re sure are pukey poop germs making their way down your legs and into your shoes. With a herculean effort you relax your body enough to allow the actual peeing, but as you do so your elbows bump the ice cold and obviously confrontational sides of the stall. Since the toilet paper dispenser is kissing your thigh, you have to lean hard left to access the full roll causing another body/stall run in. You start to feel like the space is getting smaller and smaller around you, crushing your big girl body. It’s all so emotional. You curse the toddler performing satanic rituals in the big beautiful stall for the moms, the handicapped, and the ladies of above average size.
            While washing your hands you glance in the mirror and the face that stares back at you isn’t your own. You’re changed. You’re scarred. This could have been avoided if the public restroom architect gods didn’t allow Victoria’s Secret models to designate the stall dimensions for you everyday folks. Without the assistance of real-life Photoshop, standard bathroom stalls are a bit of a reach for you. But that’s fine – it’s just something big girls can’t do.


2: Imagine it’s your birthday. Recently, the famous amusement park near you opened a couple rides based on your most favorite wizard-centric book series. What better way to spend your special day than by jumping into the pages of the novels that raised you? If you like, you can substitute any roller coaster adventure land for this part, no wizards or reading required.
            Your friends and you arrive early; the whole day awaits. Before the crowds swell, you rush to the most popular roller coaster, the main attraction. You can see there’s barely a line, a mere trickle of people head toward the maw of the castle. Only paces separate you from child-like joy. But suddenly you hear something: Ma’am, ma’am.
            A cherubic looking man is walking toward you wearing a dimply expression and pitying eyes. His nametag says “I’m Pablo. Let’s make your day!” Ma’am. Hello ma’am. Have you tried our test chairs today, ma’am? He gestures to replicas of the ride’s chairs sitting in a little cubby to the side of the line. He smiles, he gestures, and you know what this is. He can call them “test chairs” all he wants. Hell, he can call them heavenly ride samples, for how much it matters to you. Okay Pablo, okay, it’s the big people purgatory. Pablo, keep your pity eyes.
            You get in the seats and you pull the bar toward you. Pull tighter, Ma’am, Pablo says. You pull tighter. Just a little more, Pablo says. You pull tighter and tighter and you feel the rush of relief as you hear the latch take. You pass! You’re out of purgatory! You’re fat but not “too” fat! Pablo smiles wide and his dimples tell you this is his favorite part of the day. All he wants is for fat people to be happy.
            It’s not until later that day, as you slurp your way through your second non-alcoholic caramel-root beer nonsense, that you notice the purple and blue constellations on your arms, the bruises from the bar slamming against your skin over and over, something you missed in your exhilaration. Your friends sip their drinks and chatter. They are ebullient, oblivious to the tiny injustices you must constantly face, the ways in which the world judges you. Is it so absurd to ride a ride without being abused? But that’s fine – it’s just something big girls can’t do.


3: Imagine you’re in an airport. In your hasty last-minute packing job you somehow left your book on top of the cat bed. You can see it there now, cradling that dumb cat butt. Not much good to you, crammed into the stiff terminal seats, thigh-to-thigh with the kindly older lady embroidering “eff off” onto a dish towel, waiting on your delayed flight to Chicago. With hours to kill you decide a coffee and a tour of the limited, best-seller heavy airport bookstore is in order. Triple caramel macchiato in hand, you scour the racks for anything that isn’t John Grisham or James Patterson. These shelves are old white dude heaven, huh, you whisper conspiratorially to the young Latina behind the counter. She pops a gummy bear into her mouth and shrugs.
            Desperate to free yourself from this awkward encounter you’ve created, you grab at random for a few items, pay, and exit the store quickly. This is how you come to be in possession of the most recent “Super Famous Lady Magazine” (and also one bag of Fritos, a giant Evian bottle, and three Milky Ways). Panic does not wise decisions make.
            After you squish yourself back into the terminal seat and check on the embroidering lady’s progress, you peruse the magazine. On the front is the super famous lady dressed head-to-toe in flowers. “Spring into Spring!” is situated around her knees in a font upsettingly similar to comic sans. You feel very confident there wasn’t a magazine on that shelf you’d like less, but know there’s no way you’re braving that too-bright store again. You lean in to the disaster, sip your coffee, and find a decent amount of enjoyment in an article detailing the different organizational methods to employ in your bedroom depending on your zodiac sign.  You’ve read your way through articles on baby and me yoga, the nuances of every kind of cooking oil, and professional tips for perfect eyeliner in one swipe, when you reach the reader letters.
            One of the letters is directed at the in-house fashion expert and can be summarized as such – “I don’t have a completely flat stomach. Can I still wear a crop top?” The in-house fashion expert’s answer is succinct and leaves no room for interpretation – “Nope.” Suddenly, in your mind’s eye, your most recent purchase from the popular teenager-geared clothing store looms. A tribal print crop top with thick, crisscrossing straps. Though you hadn’t worn a crop top since high school, there was something so wonderful about the feeling of a breeze on your bare stomach. You loved the way your stretch marks peeked over the top of your jeans, showing your body’s strength, the way it’s grown and evolved to take care of you. Sure, you’d been a little self-conscious at first, but the truth was, except one lone (and probably miserable) bitch who lived down the hall from you, no one seemed to mind. The more you’d thought about it, the more you’d understood, there’s no reason to mind you wearing a crop top. It’s a crop top for fuck’s sake. It’s not like you’re clubbing baby seals.
            And yet, here it is, no sugar-coating, no padding of any sort, stripped to its mean core – “no.” Maybe it wasn’t just the bitch down the hall. Maybe it really was everyone. Maybe they all looked at you with scorn and thought no crop tops for anyone but the super fit. No breeze on your stomach, no power in your body, no way to love your stretch marks. No. But, I guess, that’s fine – it’s just something big girls can’t do.


4: Imagine you’re online dating. It’s fun and surprising and you like answering the quiz questions and watching your compatibility ratings change. It’s been a long time since you dated anyone (save your ex), but you’re ready to jump right in to that very salty and tumultuous sea.
            Not one to mince words, you choose “curvy” on the body type descriptors and follow that up with some straight-forward prose on how you’re a “big bi girl who’s looking for someone as exciting as a book” or whatever cheesy self-promoting catch phrase you’d like to insert here. You upload five different pictures to fit into many different moods. While the main profile pic is from last year when you toured the street art of San Francisco, it’s still a decently accurate full body representation. There’s also the goofy paper mustache picture, the fancy gown and hair for your friend’s wedding picture (with others cropped out to avoid confusion), the shocked face of you petting a goat while on vacation in Cambria picture, and the cake picture (you know which one). All in all, you feel like you’re online profile is fairly spot-on. Sure, the pictures are from the upper echelon of what your collection offers, but come on, of course they are.
            A couple months later, at lunch, a friend asks you for an update on the online dating shenanigans. You give her all the details; you spare no juicy tidbit. First you tell her about the heavily tatted Laundromat tycoon who was very boring and very into the underground punk scene, two things that seem mutually exclusive but apparently are not. Though the tacos you ate for dinner were fabulous. 
            Then there’s the South African transplant working on an undergraduate degree in veterinary sciences. He took you to a Himalayan restaurant and rubbed your leg under the eggplant strewn table while wooing you with an absurd amount of data on cats. Aside from some frottering by the door of your building, that wasn’t worth much. You’ve stopped returning his texts. After that you moved on to a photographer who took you to the observatory and kissed you under the stars. You saw her a few times, ate spaghetti, and drank far too much bourbon. On three or four occasions you hazarded an hour drive up the coast for a not super smart redhead who made up for his dopiness with his enthusiasm and his desire to slow dance to folk music in his living room. 
            Some other highlights include the comedian who took you to a book store and then home to her apartment where you spent the evening laying in her lap and watching slam poetry, the actor who asked you to his play and then bought you a veggie burger at a shitty chain diner, the baby-faced math major who looked like a B-list celebrity and skinny dipped with you in your pool, the insanely self-absorbed guitar craftsman who answered the phone when things were getting heavy, and the sound engineer who wanted to take you hunting.
            Your friend listens intently, nodding and oohing and aahing in all the right places. Lunch flies by, you order drinks (margaritas are totally reasonable afternoon beverages), and you laugh at this bizarre and wondrous place that is the internet dating world. And then your friend leans in conspiratorially and whispers but do they know you’re fat before the date? And you remember.
            Big girls can’t get dates. Big girls can’t slow dance to folk music or kiss under the stars. They can’t lay their head in their date’s lap or skinny dip. And they certainly can’t fuck or love or be desired. Certainly not. So what the hell ever – it’s just something big girls can’t do.


5: Imagine you’re not on a diet. You’re not restricting calories or cutting carbs or ditching fat. You’re not counting points or following fads. You’re living your life and enjoying the foods you want to enjoy. Sometimes you want roasted veggies in a barley bowl with hummus. Sometimes you want pizza and ice cream with caramel sauce. But it doesn’t much matter to you.
            Until it does. Until a client at your work offers to buy you a gift card for her doctor who she promises can freeze that fat right off. Until a literal stranger passes you in the street and asks if you’ve heard of the Southern Massachusetts Diet or the Madagascar Diet or the McConaughey Movie Diet. Have you heard of the new trick, the new way to make you a better/more worthwhile person? Everyone thinks this isn’t something you experience in your very core, that the fat isn’t actually some part of who you are. You ignore them, you smile, you wave, you walk on, but it doesn’t go away.
            Imagine it picks at the fabric of your being. Imagine it makes you feel small even though you’re big. How it makes you feel less than. In some isolated part of the back of your brain you wonder if they’re right, if you would be better, your thoughts more interesting, your smile wider, if you weren’t so big. So you work out a little, cut back on the pizza, and shed some pounds. You look great! Have you lost weight? You smile, you wave, you’ve done it. Your jokes will pack a harder punch and everyone will love your ideas at the staff meetings. You’re worthwhile now.
            But then, imagine you notice some cellulite. Or maybe a tiny roll on your back. Or you get sick and have to miss a few gym days. You gain a little weight and people stop complimenting you. Their talk turns to whispers when you enter the room. You feel small, again, but not in the way you’d hoped. More diet advice. Articles from your family show up in your inbox. You’re flooded with tips and tricks, all of it designed to tear you down and not build you up. All of it designed to punish you for being a big girl. And that’s just it, isn’t it? You can’t be big. You can’t exist. You can’t hold worth. You can’t be strong, or valued, or smart while also being big. Of fucking course not – it’s just something big girls can’t do.


About the Author:
Tai Farnsworth is a queer writer making a living as a high school administrator and teacher in Los Angeles. She graduated with her MFA from Antioch University in 2015. You can find more of her work in The Quotable, as well as in the literary journal Lunch Ticket. When she’s not reading, stuck in traffic, or snuggling her cat, she’s shopping around her young adult novel about a girl discovering her bisexuality.

You can find Tai on Facebook and as taionthefly on Twitter or Instagram

About All Accounts:
All Accounts and Mixture is an annual online feature celebrating the work of LGBTQ writers and artists. For this series, we seek work from authors who self-identify as "queer," while acknowledging that this designation is subjective and highly personal. Our goal is to provide a forum for writers whose voices might be mis- or underrepresented by the literary mainstream. Submissions open May 18th and run through June 19th. Poetry, prose, visual art, reviews and interviews will all be considered.



ALL ACCOUNTS AND MIXTURE: New works from John Emil Vincent

The playfulness of skeletons, the sadness of bones

The Canary Islands were named after dogs. There is talk that maybe the dogs were actually seals, monk seals do look like melting dogs, but the population did regardless have a thing for actual dogs as well. The original inhabitants, Pliny the Elder reports, worshipped them, even mummified them, and called themselves The Dog-Headed Ones.

The bird came later and was named for its habitat; though somehow now it seems named for them—the Fuerteventura Island is after all delicately bird shaped—and everything there must one suspects be brightly colored in molten volcano yellows.

Once a year the rich bring their dogs together to the archipelago’s lone stadium and award them new souls. Rich people as you may know typically struggle to relate to friends, family, and acquaintances. For these hours of barking bliss, however, their beloved canines are bequeathed the souls of last year’s dead relatives, dead neighbors, and even dead maids and dead doormen, and smothered, simply smothered, with kisses. With adoration. Then they bring new, living doormen, neighbors, and children; they butcher them for the dogs. Next year is another year, they chant. Sometimes slipping on this or that ruptured spleen or half-devoured lung. But having a real time of it.


Next year is another year.

 

Realist theme park

My friend Noah says it should have a roller coaster. I’m not sure. He says it should start really steep and keep on really steep and grind up and you can hear the chains pulling and slapping in that slack-because-they-need-such-serious-chain-to-pull way.

It goes on and on a bit more. And I think at this point we have to move beyond the genre, maybe, space-mountain-like, try some external threats which are overcome simply by staying in your seat: that’s realistic: or maybe: vistas that open up unexpectedly and then go dark suddenly. And then open up to become other vistas. And this is what we in reality call: geography. Or: patience. That’s cool.

But he’s twenty-two so what does he know and hell it’s honest to god just about now I wonder about the inner resources of our young people, and he says, no no I know! it needs to go on flat for a long time. A long flat bit followed by another one with a sudden stop. And the seat guards fly up unexpectedly before it quite stops. And everyone is shocked not by what went on but that nothing did and now it’s over. That’s pretty good I think. But I’m not quite ready to go all Beckett on realism, so I think it’s important we handcuff a murderer to his victim and send them off into the neighboring sodium-light-lit desert. We can watch them escaping as we get off the ride.


It just feels right.


About the Author:
John Emil Vincent lives in Montreal. His first book of poems, Excitement Tax, will be published by DC Books later this Fall.

About All Accounts:
All Accounts and Mixture is an annual online feature celebrating the work of LGBTQ writers and artists. For this series, we seek work from authors who self-identify as "queer," while acknowledging that this designation is subjective and highly personal. Our goal is to provide a forum for writers whose voices might be mis- or underrepresented by the literary mainstream. Submissions open May 18th and run through June 19th. Poetry, prose, visual art, reviews and interviews will all be considered.



ALL ACCOUNTS AND MIXTURE: Divine Prose from Bronwyn Mauldin

 

NOTES FOR A PORNO SET IN THE VATICAN

 

ACT 1

            A sunny spring day in Rome, and a beautiful Italian young woman, ELENA, is out walking her beloved little pug, BRUNO. Elena wears a silky pale blue blouse and linen pants sheer enough to give us hints of her long legs. She stops at a gelateria and orders a scoop of cherry. She licks gelato from a small spoon in delicate circles. The young gelato vendor follows the movement of her tongue with his head, as if imagining he were the ice cream.
            At the edge of the scene, a ghostly figure in white flickers, then disappears. Elena and the venditore don’t see it, intent as they both are on her cherry gelato. Bruno spots the figure though. With a sharp bark, he takes off in pursuit. He escapes his leash, leaving the long black, leather lead empty in Elena’s hands.
            “My Bruno!” Elena calls out. She drops her gelato and runs after the dog. As the camera follows Elena, we catch sight of the venditore down on his hands and knees, licking up the remnants of her ice cream in ecstasy.
            Bruno turns a corner and runs along a high stone wall lined with a multitude of people from all over the world. Elena follows half a block behind, calling out in English and Italian, “Bruno! Come back here now, you naughty dog. Cane cattivo!” We see the blurry white figure again – still we cannot quite make out what it is – as it enters a building. Bruno follows. Elena does too, in the door and up the stairs. Ticket takers and security guards part like the Red Sea as she passes. Bruno scampers between a pair of guards in uniform and under a red-and-white striped gate. As Elena approaches at a run, the younger of the two guards simply raises the gate to let her through. The distinguished-looking older guard drops his chin into his hand, elbow on the desk in front of him, and sighs, “Che bella.”
            Elena anxiously wraps the leash around her left hand as she follows Bruno into an art gallery. She is brought to an abrupt halt by a large group of overheated pink tourists in shorts, t-shirts and tennis shoes. A dumpy woman in a navy suit is explaining the golden panels of Giotto di Bondone’s Stefaneschi Triptych to the tourists in Italian-accented English. Elena pushes her way into the group, scanning the floor for Bruno and asking, “Have you seen my dog? Hai visto il mio cane?”
            At the same time, both we and a very handsome, tanned tourist catch a flash of Bruno running through the gallery. “There he is!” he says. Elena and the tourist chase after Bruno. As they step into the next gallery, they simultaneously catch sight of Filippo Lippi’s Coronation of the Virgin and come to a standstill. “It’s so beautiful!” Elena exclaims.
            “Not as beautiful as you,” the tourist says shyly. They throw their arms around each other and engage in an act of traditional, missionary-style sex on the padded bench in the center of the room, conveniently placed for viewing Lippi’s Virgin.
            Just as Elena is climaxing, Bruno barks at a fleeting glimpse of the mysterious figure in white that is exiting the room. “Caro Bruno!” Elena exclaims as she leaps up from the bench and runs after Bruno, leash still wrapped around her left hand, but leaving her shoes behind.

ACT 2

            Elena continues her journey through the Vatican galleries, searching for Bruno. She is periodically stopped in her tracks by a magnificent piece of art. Staring in awe at Raphael’s Madonna of Foligno, Elena is approached by a guard with a ragged mustache and unkempt hair.  “Oh, signore, you look just like Giovanni Battista,” she chirps, pointing to the painting. He removes his uniform to expose a hair shirt that looks not unlike the Baptist’s wooly garb. Elena lowers her trousers and bends down with her hands on her knees for the guard to enter her from behind.
            In the Immaculate Conception room, a beam of light streams from the upper corner of the fresco. It illuminates a bible and continues down to the upturned hand of a nineteenth century pope surrounded by his cardinals. As Elena approaches the painting, the light spreads until it illuminates her, leaving the crowds around her in shadow. Elena glows brighter, and she begins to touch herself, eventually bringing herself to a husky, full-throated climax. 
            Chasing Bruno through an octagonal courtyard she pauses to admire the statue of Laocoön and His Sons. The men and serpents turn to gaze back at her. Antiphantes comes fully to life. Elena approaches him, kisses his nipples, works her way down his body and performs fellatio as the snake entwines itself around both of their bodies.
            During each sex act, just as Elena is climaxing, Bruno barks and at the same time we catch another glimpse of the figure in white passing at the edge of the scene. Each time we see the figure it becomes a little bit clearer. Eventually, we begin to recognize it as a high-level church official in formal robes.
            Each time, when Bruno barks, Elena leaps up and chases after him, but leaves another piece of clothing behind. First her blouse, then her pants, and so on.  
            By the time they enter the Galleria Delle Carte Geografiche, Elena is only wearing a pair of delicate lace panties. She follows Bruno down the center of the room. The figure in white passes a window, briefly hovering outside. Bruno leaps toward it, but instead of going through the window, the little pug splashes into the Tyrrhenian Sea in one of the frescoed maps.
            Without hesitation, Elena dives in after the pug, hardly making a splash as her lithe body breaks the water. She swims like a mermaid, arms tight along her side, undulating in rhythm with the kicks of her long, strong legs. No matter how quickly she cuts through the water, though, she can’t quite catch up with Bruno. Shimmering schools of red, blue, and bright yellow fish turn and cartwheel in her wake. Soon, a naked bearded man is swimming beside her. He has wide shoulders, and his upper arms and thighs are thick with muscle. His abs ripple as he matches Elena kick for kick through the sea. They come up for air together.
            “I am Neptune, god of the sea, and you will be mine!” Elena wraps both legs around him as he enters her, and they float together as one in the salty blue brine.
            A muffled yip, and from our view underwater we see the mysterious figure in white robes walking along the shore. Bruno bounds out of the sea, emerging from the Laguna Veneta to land at the far end of the map hall. He shakes himself, splashing water over a gaggle of sweaty tourists, who twist with pleasure in the cooling spray. Elena emerges from the water still in pursuit of her pug, completely naked except for the leash still wrapped around her left hand. She chases Bruno into the crowds that grow ever thicker as they approach the Sistine Chapel.
            Once in the chapel, Bruno disappears into a forest of gawking tourists who stand in stupefaction, oblivious to anything but the ceiling overhead. Elena pushes and squirms her way through the crowd, calling for “Bruno, mio caro Bruno.” A voice comes over the intercom, “Shhh. Silence. Shhh.” The din of awestruck tourists dissipates.
            A balding fat man with a turquoise fanny pack tucked between belly and groin grabs Elena’s arm, points up, and says something in a Slavic language she does not understand. Elena follows his arm to gaze up at the image of a naked Noah drunk before his sons. The Slavic gentleman glances over, about to say something more, then realizes he has grabbed the wrong arm. His equally rotund wife is scowling beside him, arms crossed over an ample bosom wrapped tight in a purple tank top. The man lets go of Elena’s arm as if it were on fire and laughs nervously, saying something in his language that sounds apologetic. The wife takes him by the ear and drags him out of the Sistine Chapel.
            Meanwhile, Elena is transfixed, staring at the naked men above her until Japheth comes to life, penis first. He stretches his arms down from the ceiling toward her as she reaches upward toward him, but they cannot reach each other. Elena unwinds the leash, keeping one end looped around her wrist, and throws the clasp end toward him. He catches it and pulls her up into the painting. Japheth and Elena find a narrow corner in the painting where they have sex standing up against the shed. As the sound of their lovemaking grows, so does the sound of hundreds of tourists coming face-to-face with the sublime, both rising together to their natural crescendo.
            “Silence!” a voice commands over the intercom. “This is a holy place!”
            Bruno yips, and we see the mysterious figure in white exit the chapel through a side door.  The pug scurries after the figure, followed by Elena who is now returned entirely to the state in which Eve met Adam.

ACT 3

            The story of Elena and her dog reaches its climax in St. Peter’s Basilica. Bruno trots into the church and comes to a halt, barking. Up ahead the figure in white robes comes into focus as it walks up the nave. Reaching the altar, below Bernini’s great four-poster baldacchino, the figure turns to face us, and we can finally see it is (as we likely expected) the Holy Father.
            Bruno goes silent, lifting one paw in reverence. Elena, standing naked behind her dog on a red-purple circle of porphyry stone, crosses herself and falls to her knees. The Holy Father lifts his arms in benediction, and with that movement, his robes fall away from him. We see now that the Holy Father is not a man but a woman, rubenesque, with long, wavy red-blonde hair, looking not unlike Venus in Botticelli’s painting of her birth. Unlike Venus, however, she does not cover herself, as she is not ashamed to be seen and admired.
            “Rise, Elena,” she says, gesturing with her arms.
            Elena slowly approaches. Sunlight from the open doorway behind her sparkles on her skin. A faint shadow of the obelisk in the square behind her appears, then fades away. “Forgive me, Mother, for I have sinned,” says Elena.  
            “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” says the Holy Mother, with a beatific smile full of love and acceptance. “We are called to keep fervent in our love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
            The Holy Mother opens her arms and Elena falls into them. Their embrace turns to caresses and kisses, and soon they are rolling on the floor in ecstatic lovemaking. As Elena climaxes, Bruno comes running. He dances circles around Elena and her lover, yipping with joy. The three of them share a joyous moment, laughing, petting the dog.
            Elena and the Holy Mother turn together again and make mad, passionate love one more time under the statue of St. Peter, who looks down upon them with a smile and finally completes the blessing his two upraised fingers have promised for centuries.

FINE


About the Author:
Bronwyn Mauldin is the author of the novel Love Songs of the Revolution, and the short story collection The Streetwise Cycle. She is a past winner of The Coffin Factory (now Tweed’s) magazine’s very short story contest. Her work has appeared at Akashic Books, Literature for Life, Necessary Fiction, and other places. She is also creator of The Democracy Series zine collection. In September 2016, she was Artist in Residence at Mesa Verde National Park. More at bronwynmauldin.com .
You can also find Bronwyn on Twitter and Instagram as @guerrillareads, and on her FB author page at https://www.facebook.com/bronwynmauldin .

About All Accounts:
All Accounts and Mixture is an annual online feature celebrating the work of LGBTQ writers and artists. For this series, we seek work from authors who self-identify as "queer," while acknowledging that this designation is subjective and highly personal. Our goal is to provide a forum for writers whose voices might be mis- or underrepresented by the literary mainstream. Submissions open May 18th and run through June 19th. Poetry, prose, visual art, reviews and interviews will all be considered.