Beyond Pink and Blue

Imagine a circle, and around that circle are the main colors of the rainbow. Like a rainbow, the colors do not have stark beginnings and endings, but blend into one another, the red slowly shifting to orange, orange to yellow, and so on until violet turns back to red. At the edges of this circle of colors, they are vibrant and bright, and towards the middle they blend together to get gray. Pink and blue are just two colors in this wide array, and male and female are just two genders in a wide range of possibilities. Perhaps I am a light green color, a gender the English language doesn’t have words for. I’ve met people on a wide spectrum of this rainbow.

Even within the colors we might call ‘pink’ or ‘blue,’ there are so many variations, just as there are many ways to express one’s gender even within the identities of ‘female’ and ‘male.’  If we tried to describe the whole world in terms of pink and blue, or nature’s more common green and blue, we wouldn’t be able to describe the beauty of cardinals, tulips, and autumn leaves. We also lose the beautiful diversity of humanity when we try to force it into two distinct boxes, yet modern culture has conditioned us, to varying degrees, to believe that this binary exists.

When we can know that not only is a binary a much limited version of what is truly around us, but imagine other possibilities of how a world may look, we can begin to imagine how disrupting the gender binary doesn’t just free those who transcend the binary, but liberates everyone from a mold of expectations based on their appearance at birth. There is room to grow, room to imagine what we could be if we grow to be able to see and honor and support not only the full rainbow wheel of genders, but how all our nuanced intersections of experience and identity.

Beyond Pink and Blue uses color as the central metaphor to explore experiences of gender in a variety of ways. Some poems play with aspects of gender present in this world and society, examining, actively resisting, or dispelling stereotypes, while others imagine worlds and societies with different ties or connections to gender or related metaphors.


they can try to
    erase our stories
    erase our multicolored identities
    erase our very bodies from this earth
but they cannot hide
    the stories the land holds for us
    the rain that returns the knowing to us
    the sun which sparks seeds hidden within us
for we are reflected
    in seasonal cycles of creation and growth
    in every raindrop and color of the rainbow
    in fire’s transformative power
since we
    are natural to this earth
    are made in the image of nature’s wide spectrums
    are intrinsic to humanity’s rebirth and wholeness

~~ Originally published by the MockingOwl Roost, Special Issue: “All the Colors” based on this series “Beyond Pink and Blue” (February, 2023)

Shriveled Being

I found a being in the woods
shriveled and left there to die
no water no food no sanctuary
maggots had begun to multiply

I took this being upon my back
not knowing eir origins or kind
but kindness is a human trait
I couldn’t leave em behind

resilience gleamed in the teary gaze
as ey turned eir face to mine
far beyond defeat or fear
eyes with a steely shine

releasing the harm internalized
as tears fell like rain
cleansing renewing purifying
no longer surviving in vain

I nourished this being back to health
ey began to flourish and thrive
a rich green aura came from within
bringing em vibrantly alive

green rays shone from eir very core
as into eir power ey grew
freed from the lies ey once was told
of auras only pink or blue

but then when ey returned to this world
with hopes it would now be benign
few others could see beyond two colors
and eir shine began to decline

ey came back to me for shelter once more
and together we agreed to try
to create a culture both free and kind
where no color would live a lie

and so we began to build and to plan
inviting the others we found
to bring their colors of every shade
to this place of common ground

we built a community so welcoming
that soon others wanted to come
even pinks and blues that once were cruel
were no longer quite so troublesome

so instead of fighting our way to the top
in a world that hated our souls
our new way of living brought others to join
leaving behind their rigid controls

and soon their systems fell apart
but nobody cared anymore
with these new ways where all were free
people’s truths began to restore

and so my dear this is how
the once shriveled being and I
formed a vision beyond pink and blue
and helped the world to unify

~~ Originally published by Written Tales, “Freedom” Chapbook (June, 2022)
~~ Also published by Southern Arizona Press, “A Children’s Book of Bedtime Verse” Anthology (October, 2023)

Gold and Indigo

golden strands woven in indigo darkness
the smooth cool night a warm embrace
balancing lustrous gleaming filaments

metal and silk settle against my skin
tonight I am the world, the sky and stars,
flowers and fish, sun and twilight

stars sparking a nighttime glow
meteors darting like needles through
the supple blanket encircling earth

gold and indigo walk hand in hand
through beds of citrine and amethyst
through oceans laced with glittering fish

as the sky turns towards twilight
asters and goldenrod twine together
glowing in the fading sun

like roiling clouds with rippling lightning
I am indigo with touches of gold
dancing in my depths

~~ Originally published by Spark Journal, “Messages from NYYM Friends” (May, 2022)
~~ Also published by Southern Arizona Press, “The Stars and Moon in the Evening Sky” Anthology (June, 2022)


(CW: parental misgendering and medical abuse)

a ball of pink in a skin of blue
barely contained and popping through
wigs and dresses just at school
until a mother lays down a rule

buzzed and beaten into docility
the daughter doesn’t quite have the ability
to tell her mother how she truly feels
joyful and free in a pair of heels

the mother fears for her son’s cognition
drugs him and doses beyond recognition
a syringe of blue to thicken the skin
to pummel and squelch the pink within

for years a small spark lies dormant inside
but there comes a time when she cannot hide
blue skin thins again as once more she tries
to evade her mother’s network of lies

out of sight and away from home
beyond those that misuse ancient tomes
she begins to research to look and to find
others with truths more fitting and kind

timid and afraid she starts at first
feeding the fire in fitful bursts
a shadowed mirror in a darkened room
remade reborn in a new mother’s womb

a bluish skin drops to the floor
to be put on and off until she needs it no more
a gifted belt and handmade earrings
shiny boots and rainbow boot strings

emerging nervous for a partner’s first sight
her partner can hardly contain their delight
a thousand worries fall away with the skin
showing once more her true self is feminine

~~ Originally published by Querencia Press, “Not Ghosts But Spirits” a women, queer, trans, & enby anthology (December, 2022)

Crystal Tears

clear is my resilience
a glass bubble surrounding my soul
emerging from the ground
and pouring down
flowing as water from Earth’s cradle
caring, cleansing, nourishing
held and safe in Spirit

caught in a dewdrop
swirled by rain
the Earth cradle
protecting my tiny form
with zer crystal tears
of vulnerability and resilience
strong so I don’t have to be

drops sliding from leaves
blending into streams
hundreds of tears
united and strong
changing the course
of sticks and stones
that once struck our skin

streams turn to rivers
tracks down our cheeks
into the universal flow
blurring our edges
merging our bubbles
sobs of sorrow and joy
shaking our shells to pieces

no longer divided by our pain
held together in Spirit’s living water
through peaks and valleys
our perseverance entwined
strong for each other
so we don’t all have to be
clear is our resilience

~~ Originally published by Pendle Hill Quaker Center in their newsletter while I was artist-in-residence (May, 2022)
~~ Also published by the MockingOwl Roost, Special Issue: “All the Colors” based on this series “Beyond Pink and Blue” (February, 2023)


in my head is a kaleidoscope
a spinning disco ball of glinting mirrors
etching colorful spirals around my skull

the ball turns ever so predictably
from red to green to yellow
to gray to amber and back again

I encompass each color
each moment of every day
yet few can perceive my kaleidoscope

they say eyes are windows to the soul
but in these small hollows
only one color shines through at a time

and I am given many labels
inconsistent, erratic, impulsive,
unsettled, fickle, chaotic, indecisive

those with only one color rarely realize
they too have kaleidoscopes
turning and flowing in subtle shifts

only because my colors are many
am I made a target, my eyes a siren call
to those who fear that which they do not know

yet others find incredible joy
in my cycle of changing colors
the ebb and flow and rhythm of my eyes

their labels are many and not so bleak
supple, graceful, adaptable, fluid,
flexible, balanced, resilient

they see the integrity of living
how spirit made me, fluid and flowing
between one color and another

and perhaps one day everyone can see
not just one color at a time
but the full kaleidoscopic me

~~ Originally published by Querencia Press, “Not Ghosts But Spirits” a women, queer, trans, & enby anthology (December, 2022)


light glinting off
smooth shiny surfaces
cut and polished
to rigid shapes
with gentle curves
honoring divine beings
from the collars
of spirit-walkers
earthen power
and healing waters
to divine glory
peace and tranquility
calm from the source
of blue-green
of life
rooted in the
of those
living the

~~ Originally published by Pendle Hill Quaker Center in their newsletter while I was artist-in-residence (May, 2022)

Fiery Rock

a heart of stone in the molten flow
one fiery rock from the earth below
longing to know what it is to be hard
not melted together but set apart

this lone soul longs to rise to the top
ey tries and tries but is always stopped
by fluid rocks who constantly move
flowing together, not bound by earth’s grooves

magma can’t see why ey wants to change
to be hard rock seems so very strange
they’ve never seen it, it’s never been done
how in the world could being hard be fun

off in the distance, far up above
sits a hard little boulder who longs to be loved
the rocks all around want to stay gray and still
leaving the boulder’s little heart unfulfilled

each stone on their own, one above, one below
each born into places that don’t feel like home
they feel very stuck but one thing is clear
they can’t stay here for hundreds of years

years come and they go for each little stone
not moved any closer by the harsh wind’s blow
but just as they’re about to give up in despair
comes the scent of a truly new kind of air

the skin of the earth begins to move
air sulfuric and fresh passes through
tossing and turning as if in sleep
red magma is pushed up from the deep

as steaming cracks open in the crust between
stones hard and soft see sights yet unseen
struggling and swimming to get ahead of the tide
the heart of stone does not want to hide

the hard little boulder looks down from the edge
hoping to fly like a bird set to fledge
as rising up from the cracks down below
flows a wave of molten stone

rumbles and shakes come as lava emerges
led by the stone with transformative urges
shooting high in the sky and ready to fly
molten stone turning hard gives a delighted cry

tumbling down comes the hard little boulder
falling towards lava and ready to smolder
stone and boulder in transformation
years weary and dreary now lead to elation

one enveloped by magma sinking back below
one high above, nearly hardened gray stone
each freer and calmer, in joy and ecstasy
surrounded now by a new kind of family

the other stones hadn’t wanted to shift
but then as they changed and began to grow stiff
they saw the fear they’d had of the other side
and now they too no longer yearn to hide

they meet other rocks, some old and some young
and feel biased notions start coming undone
they feel what it’s like to live life another way
some feel at home and want to stay gray

but as the cracks begin to close
and molten rock no longer grows
rocks up above and down below
feel the loss of friends long ago

out in this new world so firm and so odd
with fissures and cracks some rocks feel flawed
though the first stone loves to feel the earth’s grooves
others dearly miss the molten rock’s ooze

some try to force their way back inside
but they are stuck no matter how hard they try
stuck like the first rock had felt before
the pain they had caused they can no longer ignore

the first little stone now high on the hill
though mostly cooled, is not yet quite still
ey hears the complaints of stones on the ground
and rolls down to help those who now feel bound

the stone had felt what it is to be stuck
down in despair, out of hope, out of luck
much as ey sees solace in others who shift
some others don’t see this change as a gift

gray stone calls to boulder now down in the crack
please use your red strength to melt your way back
so up from the deep comes the magma once more
to heat and to soften, to push and to bore

and up on the surface stones do what they can
to widen the crack by foot and by span
from both sides they come, they push and they strain
melting and pounding ’til no obstructions remain

and there in that well of molten red rock
sits a truth no rock or magma can stop
some want to go and some want to stay
and so many more want to keep open the way

so the ball of magma that was once a boulder
and some of the souls that are much much older
begin to think, to plan, and to scheme
to find an idea though it feels like a dream

if the molten rock within the earth circles ‘round
and this pool of lava can always be found
then the divisions between wouldn’t be so complete
and restrictions on change would become obsolete

the red molten stone from within the earth
can come up above to find a new birth
and firmer gray rocks from the world in the sky
can come down below to give magma a try

and for all those stones now longing to be in the middle
the answer to this becomes much more simple
they can live near the edge and stay in between
not hard or soft but with a liquidy sheen

and in this new place of shifts and changes
stones old and young are surprised by the ranges
of colors and textures, of shapes and shades
that become much more possible without barricades

the rocks find more colors than they’ve ever known
beyond the gray from above and the red below
shiny greens and blues when they cool certain ways
and semi-molten iridescence beyond the light of day

they begin to be grateful to those brave little stones
who showed rocks the way to create a new home
even those once reluctant are no longer dismayed
and all feel more free with the world this way

they all grow more knowledge and understanding
that each path means more when there’s no commanding
and now the boulder and the heart of stone
can live into lives that are truly their own

instead of limits, possibilities now abound
and deep authenticity can truly be found
when love and acceptance isn’t conditional
on staying put and seeming traditional

and now they realize that whether soft, firm, or hard
no matter if magma, boulder, or shard
they are all stone at their end and their start
and what’s most important is what’s in their hearts

~~ Originally published by Southern Arizona Press, “A Children’s Book of Bedtime Verse” Anthology (October, 2023)

Pine Green and Ocean Blue

pine needles and ocean waves
twine in shining tendrils just under my skin
ink growing and blossoming
flowing without a thought
more engrained than the blood in my veins

an apple tree is calling me, teaching me
branches intertwining with my pine teacher
another being who cycles and changes
flowers blooming and petals falling
fruits swelling and seeds sprouting

flowers and fruits sprout under my skin
interlaced with waves and pine boughs
tears flowing over new inked marks
another ordeal has left me breathless
but the spirits are pleased with my learning

these marks are my place, my identity
revealing my ordeals and challenges
gifted by spirit guides and teachers
more important even than family
or my physical body underneath

the sacred marks are our lifeline
lest our breath be snatched away
by winter wind or desert sands
our spirit-guides travel with us
embedded in skin, protecting

only those covered entirely in rippling forms
can seek the whole earth as a teacher
such wise sages must be fluid and supple
ebbing and flowing as ze does
to learn from zir great power and survive

the earth encompasses a flurry of shifts
forces of nature no human can change
seasons and ages, volcanoes and tidal waves
hurricanes swirling across zir skin
as ze dances spirals around the sun

I hope one day to be a wise sage
to be a student of the very earth zirself
but for now it is a simple blessing
to learn from beings already far wiser than me
pines, ocean waves, and apple trees

~~ Originally published by Southern Arizona Press, “Beyond the Sand and Sea” Anthology (August, 2023)

Black and White

every morning I slip robes onto outstretched arms

white as God gave me, devoid of color,
on top of
black as people gave me, encompassing every color

I am to transcend
all meaning of colors
in my search for God

yet how can reds and yellows not blossom over my robes
and blues and greens not flourish behind my ears
as the colors of this world wash over me

in my prayers and as I sing
all fades away and I am closer
to God and to the people

each person that comes to me
is a different color
blue, orange, green, pink

and I am all of them
each person and color
lifting their prayers to God

and I am nobody
no one but a humble servant
devoid of color

~~ Originally published by Friends Journal, “Quaker Arts” Anthology (September, 2022)

Light Blue

short hair, buttoned collar,
long skirts tied at the waist
shoveling, scrubbing,
building, moving,
cooking, praying,
chopping, lifting.
I am wrapped in the blue of a nuns habit
beyond male and female
taking on the roles of both
in a solitary monastery in the country
there is no choice here
the work must be done
and it frees me

~~ Originally published by the MockingOwl Roost, Special Poetry Issue: “Beginning to End” (September, 2022)


they see me through rose colored glasses
can’t see past their fairy tales
of princesses saved by knights in shining armor

through the rosy tint
they can’t see the warning signs
of communities and people about to fall apart

bursting the seams
tearing the edges
of their perfect princess dresses

underneath I am the knight in armor
and the night sky whose stars
also shine with a silver sheen

hard edges and starlight
shimmering gleams
untainted by this world

so distant from the diamond rings
of men who offered what I didn’t want
but had the freedom that I did

~~ Originally published by Querencia Press, “Not Ghosts But Spirits” a women, queer, trans, & enby anthology (December, 2022)

Blue Cords

blue corduroy
wraps around hips
wider than they would be
if I’d been born XY

now I look like a boy
even at twenty-two
my bare round face
starting a second puberty

I button my cords
and in the room next door
Fern buttons theirs too
around hips as wide as mine

their second puberty
is in its second year
scruff on their chin
voice like gravel

we bind our chests
masking for today
under button-ups
and hoodies

the ubiquitous cords
hiding our curves
because society is afraid
of curves on men

~~ Originally published by Querencia Press, “Not Ghosts But Spirits” a women, queer, trans, & enby anthology (December, 2022)


today I am blue
in defiance of the clothing my mother wrapped me in
her pink fingernails buttoning
my suit together

today we go to the funeral of the only man
who knew I wasn’t one
my tie forms the shape of the letter
of the gender I am not
and another gender I am not

M and W,
the letters on bathrooms
I’ll be forced to choose between today
because what’s between my legs
matters more to lawyers
than what’s between my ears

yet I am not downtrodden
and my emotions are far from blue
my gender mirrors the sky today
sparkling clear
so bright the stars are hidden
my joy outshining the sun’s rays

and tonight
when the sky is a deep midnight blue
the stars will come out
like the tears glistening on my cheeks
when nobody can see
and because nobody can see

~~ Originally published by the MockingOwl Roost, Special Issue: “All the Colors” based on this series “Beyond Pink and Blue” (February, 2023)

Green and Brown and Gray

we are a triangle
dancing circles
around one another

gray and green
green and brown
brown and gray

we came together
three children of the Earth
in zer three primary colors

I met Zek on a mountain
their gray soul
blending with the rocks

Zek met Zia on a farm
zir green thumb
birthing trees and plants

Zia and I fell into lockstep
zir plants in the brown earth
of my body and soul

and we fell in love
three plates to dinner
three pillows in bed

gray and green
green and brown
brown and gray

we are a triangle
dancing circles
around one another

~~ Originally published by Querencia Press, “Not Ghosts But Spirits” a women, queer, trans, & enby anthology (December, 2022)