so blessed be the YouTube tutorial
on how to turn your empty pill bottles
into a string of fairy lights.

blessed be the chatty four-way FaceTime call
between college kids who just so happen
to be prepping their injections.

blessed be the friends who don’t
question me when I cancel plans.
blessed be the friends who cancel plans.

blessed be those who know not all
spoons are for food or tea or cough syrup.
blessed be the spoons.

blessed be every soul who knew better than
to mistake my small stature for a permission slip,
my small voice for a dismissal bell.

blessed be the librarian
who never tried to convince me
to read more uplifting books.

blessed be the ex-lovers
who kept my specialty formula
stocked in their mini-fridges.

blessed be the grandmother who researched
adult diapers and sent me screenshots, lest
my browser history falls on judgmental eyes.

blessed be my sister, pausing
the tour to ask the wedding
planner about accessibility.

blessed be my mother, printing off another
article while the self-proclaimed soothsayers
hung up their scrubs and forgot about me.

blessed be the room-for-one turned penthouse suite,
the visitors’ passes, three butts to one cot,
wheelchair races, and board games unfolded over bedspreads.

blessed be the drumbeat in my throat, the hands
raising tinker bell solo cups like champagne goblets,
laughter choking out the machines I don’t need to tell me

I’m still living
blessed be everything
that shows me I’m still living.

blessed be the hands that healed me,
not one of them gloved,
not one of them gripping a tool,

every one of them holding another.

CAROLINE WOLFF is a queer and disabled poet and essayist from San Antonio, Texas, USA. Her work has been featured in Skyline and The Trinity Review, and is forthcoming in SICK, The Fruitslice, and The Marbled Sigh. She is a freelance arts & culture journalist at San Antonio Current and a poetry acquisitions editor at West Trade Review. When she isn’t writing, you can find her devouring a novel, doing pilates, or snuggling with her tuxedo cat. To follow Caroline on her writing journey, visit her Instagram page: @carolinemariewrites.

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You can find Caroline’s two poems in Vol.3. Consider subscribing to support Anodyne Magazine and its contributors. We pay our contributors dividends for each purchase! Plus, this is the only place you’ll find an ebook + print subscription combo.

 

Artist Statement: Several months ago I went to my local private clinic to receive an IUD. Due to the testosterone I take, and some unlucky genetics, an IUD is my only sustainable option aside from a hysterectomy. It was for this reason that my boyfriend drove me to the clinic and held my hand as I laid back into the stirrups and braced myself. I could not have foreseen how violently poorly my body would react to such an invasion, vomiting and shaking with every muscle clenched like a fist. The two nurses who cared for me were gentle with me, my boyfriend rubbed my sides to soothe me. In the end I was laid on a soft couch facing a window painted like stained glass. It was among the worst pains I have ever experienced, but what would it have been if I had been in a local hospital? I am grateful that I am able to receive this kind of care without speculation, without prying questions.

TOM INFECTION (he/they) is a transmasc autistic artist in New Hampshire. His work discusses queerness, neurodivergence, and whatever else catches his fancy. With a background in agriculture, sound engineering and fish mongering, Tom is now a college student studying art and design.

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I keep the sad in my feet,
in the body part furthest from my heart,
the body part which is always cold–

I’m told I have bad circulation
and a high red blood cell count
that stops the blood from flowing
as quickly as it should,

so I wear grippy hospital socks,
even when I’m not in the hospital,
and wrap my feet in a separate blanket
from the rest of my body,
hoping for some kind of warmth.

I try friction and hot chocolate,
but nothing thaws this sad.

I keep the sad in my feet
because my brain floats above my head
and the weight of the sad
keeps me grounded.

So when the hospital calls my name for review,
I have something to tether me to the sticky,
just waxed floors as I follow the crisis nurse to a private room.

Private here means so that we won’t be overheard,
but also so that the nurse can keep an eye on me.

They don’t keep pens or cords in the private room.
I’m told to remove my shoelaces.
She asks if I am wearing a belt.

She takes my hoodie and reveals the
badly-taped gauze on my arms.
She takes note of my medications,
Takes vitals and has me rate my physical pain
before starting her questionnaire:

She asks me if I’ve been feeling hopeless,
if I’ve been feeling sad,
and she scribbles down every word of my answer
as I tell her I don’t feel sad,
I am holding the sad.

As I change into a new pair of grippy socks
I look for it, but you can’t see the sad,
you can only see feet,
just like you can’t see me there,
floating, just above my head,
using the sad like a weight for
my balloon brain. She tells me I am
disconnected from reality,

that I’m not feeling right,
and that I’ll have to stay the night.
In the morning they’ll review my medications
and try to find something that brings me back.

She doesn’t specify if she means back from balloon
or back from this ledge,
but she tells me she’ll help me.
She doesn’t say it reassuringly,
she says it because she has to.

And as she walks me from the
always open-doored bathroom
to the always open-doored bedroom,
she doesn’t offer me a second blanket.

DAMEIEN NATHANIEL is a queer, trans, autistic poet from the Northeast U.S.. They recently completed their MFA in poetry from Arcadia University, with their work centering around themes of trauma, loss, mental health, and queer identity. Dameien can be found performing at open mics and slams throughout New England and on Instagram @SpasmOfFeelings.

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JASMINE DUONG was born a middle child in Rosemead California to a loving family of 5. She is currently in college at Cal State University of Long Beach. She has not had a lot of exhibition experience, but that does not mean life experience. Nothing stops her from trying to spread her art to the world.

STATEMENT: When we are awake, where do our emotions go? Do the dreams that bring us the utmost happiness or conjure up our utmost terrors hold a droplet of truth? In the darkness our feelings condense to create shapes and forms of color to dance in the wonderful world of our consciousness. To me building worlds, landscapes, poems, and all in all making art is building a place where our emotions can reside. Where it can be encapsulated and held to be steeped in, or coaxed out in the stories long forgotten by the day to day life. What is life if not with the things we can experience and feel, but can not see. The bubbles of given definition that include love, pressure, connection, and etc. I mean what is love? Is it the aura our minds swim in or is it hormones that course through our veins? What is addiction? Is it the little voice that calls to us for the sake of happiness or the urge we get that drives us into deep delirium? I create homes for the invisible clouds that blind, guide, torment, and bind us to live in.

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what solution do you want to end on? what resolution
are you set on? how far exactly does your sight extend?
no, this is not an interrogation. there are other venues

to approach that. this remains something like an examination.
a determination of the prognosis. tell me, do you still shy away
from treatment? does it bring to mind anything new?

where do you move from there? trace a map for me to follow.
this questionnaire will stick between your teeth, keep floss
or a toothpick close at hand. what was the last moment

you can remember the exact timing of? how far have you gone
from it? tell me what it is you’re trying to forget, and why
it was the first thing that came to mind. do you trust anyone

to protect yourself? have you realized i’m not up to the task?
you’ve spent years chasing anything that could name you
worthy. isn’t it time to give your splints a rest?

BEE LB is a living poet, or at least the facsimile one; a porcelain pierrot with a painted face. they collect champagne bottles, portraits of strange women, and diagnoses. they’ve been published in G*Mob, MOODY, Landfill, and The Racket, among others. their portfolio can be found at twinbrights.carrd.co and at twinbrights on ig.

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BEE LB is a returning poet with multiple works in both Vol.1 and Vol.2. Consider subscribing to support Anodyne Magazine and its contributors. We pay our contributors dividends for each purchase! Plus, this is the only place you’ll find an ebook + print subscription combo.

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After surgery, I woke with a welt
on my left earlobe, a deep purple
pool of blood that stayed for a week
until it began to dissipate
and my body did its good work
of calling it back.
I assume that’s where the ventilator strap
had cut across my ear, an accidental interruption
of my body’s normal ebb and flow.
My thighs and crotch were stained orange,
having been doused with an antiseptic
wash, like I was wearing see-through
cycling shorts. I was missing my first inch of pubic hair
by way of a tidy, horizontal shave. Who did that,
I wondered? Grateful. I’d been fixed,
spayed, neutered, saved.
My throat hurt from breathing
through a tube. My diaphragm was sore,
from forcing such deep breaths against
the effort to expand my insides, to form
an internal operating theatre, a cavern
where once was a womb. Water, I drank so much
water, for two weeks straight,
and coughed and coughed mucus
that I thought may never abate.
My belly was bruised by one of the surgical team
who’d taken hold of my fat and pulled
while another filled my abdomen
with gas to create a cavity
where they’d insert the tools — the camera
and all the slicing and dicing devices.
And what was found there? Blood —
old, brown blood, extra thick and sticky
procreative blood that had fastened my uterus
and tubes and ovaries to the back wall
of my body cavity above my sacrum, blood
acting as an adhesive akin to superglue
my surgeon said. And this is why
after years of trying, and even after
taking a concoction of fertility drugs
that made me weird and weepy,
I could never conceive.
Such menacing blood
isn’t meant to enter the abdomen
where it can wreak no end of havoc.
Instead, it’s intended to coat
the inner uterine walls, shed
and spread anew each month,
so that an egg could attach. Yet,
all those menstruating years, I endured the pain
doctors dismissed, when, had one cared
to take a closer look, I might have been cured.
But, yes, I am grateful
to finally have this medical mystery
solved, post-menopause, age 56.
The ovary that had been my doc’s main cancer concern
had shriveled up, a brown knot.
A week post hysterectomy, I learned I did not
have ovarian cancer, no cancer
detected anywhere in or near my defunct
reproductive parts. Sweet relief.
Twelve months earlier,
a surgeon had cut cancer
out of my breast. I’d been radiated
and prescribed a difficult drug. I’d gone
on a special diet and I’d taken up running.
I found I could go faster and farther
if I thought about things that made me mad,
angry. Now, I swim laps and cycle. I do crunches
and planks. I use the rowing machine
and the assault bike in an attempt to sweat
the awfulness out of me.
I do squats and lift weights and
run around and around the lake, the track, out
my front door, uphill and down.
Just look out your window
as you’re driving down the street,
or the next time you enter a gym,
that woman, in the midst of such fury,
she’s me, being grateful.

Maria McLeod is the author of “Mother Want,” winner of WaterSedge Chapbook Contest 2021 and, “Skin. Hair. Bones.,” published by Finishing Line Press in 2022. She’s been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and has won the Indiana Review Poetry Prize and the Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Prize. Her writing has been featured in several leading literary journals as well as part of Painted Bride Quarterly’s Slush Pile Podcast. Find her on Instagram @mariapoempics and on Twitter/X @maria_mcleod

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BELDEN CARLSON is a NYC and CDMX-based photographer, originally from California. Her work has been published in print & online, and exhibited around the world. She’s available for travel, commercial & editorial assignment and for portrait sessions in New York & Mexico City. Learn more at https://www.beldencarlson.com/

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