Spring 2024

[blank] as in

By Sel Hartman
[    ] as in man as in fitting in for survival,
man when pushing open the grimy lavatory stall door,
acting like i have to shit, grimacing because they say
you look more masculine when youre angry,
men are always angry about something,
look pissed off and youll piss fine, youll pass alright.
woman as in the divine lilt of my voice in daytime,
woman when i’m fingering silk and begging to know
where she found her perfume, her hairpin, her socks.
woman in the swishing of fabric kissing my ankles,
when i am my girlfriend’s girlfriend and i cradle
produce in the crook of my arm at the market.

[    ] as in the smirk of facial hair above my upper lip,
the crack in my voice. i imagine i walk certain, men
move out of my way nowadays, but i imagine more
the sway of my mother’s hips in my own every step.
[    ] in the hard bundle of nerves between my legs,
the dark hairs of my inner thighs, the cupid’s bow of
my pink lips that still smile placidly, instinctually, at men
instead of passing nods to pass. [    ] in the smile
i use to bear my teeth like lion, to pass in the [    ],
to be the [    ] and not just the
public restroom scowl or the skirt swaying.

Golden State

Things dry out. Most
tend not to notice the
slow,           unquenchable
heat            sapping moisture
from           roots and stalks,
wrinkling petals, withering
spring’s promised crops,

I don’t know when     I wasn’t there
with him anymore.     I don’t recall
the shrinking until      leaves were
crumpling in hand,     crisp and dead,

It is hot    with a suddenness,
often—    walk out one morning
and a        sheen of sweat on the brow
tells you      the day stretching ahead is

Those carpeted green hills go
golden quick come late June.
It’s an invasive species, that
avena fatua, wild oat, coating
thick the mild foothills he lived
in. We drove to the coast, that
oat following all the while, until
the invasive became thirsty ice plant
dappling crooked coastlines and
he asked if I wanted to leave him.

Sel doesn’t know what they want to be when they grow up, but they know they love words. Through his time studying English, writing, and education, he’s worked as a poetry editor for Watershed Review and as a chapbook producer for Flume Press, now spending a gap year gardening and growing roots in Chico before pursuing a Master’s degree in English Rhetoric and Literacy. Sel writes on the same things that power them through each day: queer love and lesbianism, faith, trans livelihood, grief, processing trauma, the sanctity of nature, and their dearest friends, human and animal alike. 

Spring 2024