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Fall 2017 11/25/2017



issue 1: boundaries


untitled edison ho


Who we are: We are a group of students, aligned with the WashU Pride Alliance, who are dedicated to amplifying the voices of queer students at WashU through showcasing the various forms of art that we create. Amid all of the other publications on campus, we aim to create a lasting space specifically for queer student’s work to be recognized and celebrated.

Theme: Boundaries We asked artists what types of boundaries are set up in their communities and what boundaries they set for themselves. How and why are boundaries set, and how do they affect conversations and interactions? Not all of the art featured is related to the theme.

to see Iridescence in full color, visit Iridescence Magazine at

(cover) heritage by katy chang

a conversation in five parts:

1. meeting 2. doubting 3. pining 4. falling 5. promises to keep

playlist and categories: bread lee

brave as a noun when the day met the night forrest gump

ajj panic! at the disco frank ocean

part one:





there’s a girl in the pond who stares at me her face lit by the moon.


i named myself eve, but what shall i name her?


bread lee


INTRODUCTION i wish i could feel her pearly nose her sculpted lips (they look soft) her graceful hands that disappear just as i reach for them.




is she trapped? if i touch her, her luminous face (beautiful) ripples into snakes under my fingertips.

yesterday i asked her who are you? and i asked her how old are you? (she must be younger than me, right?)



but her lips (oh, her lips) formed shapes unintelligible to me and her eyes (sparkling like silver) bored into mine like thorns in my side

i know very little about her (that upsets me) or why she makes me feel warm but i know the serpent (good friend) told me to appease the knot in my stomach and give in and kiss her.




i’ll do it.


her name


her age


her purpose


the reason i unknown only see her at night the reason unknown why my face gets warm when i see her


adam (that dull son of a bitch) released death into the world but at least i found her embrace as i tumbled into the darkness.

i can’t move past this thing called my body sienna ruiz

no one likes the person who says they/them bread lee everyone sits in a circle for our first hall meeting. the RA asks us to share our name, city, and pronouns. pronouns. pronouns. pronouns. “what are pronouns?” someone asks. my ears are ringing. no one likes what they don’t understand. i wonder if i should claim my truth or deny myself my truth. claim my truth and deny myself the acceptance of others. or deny myself my truth and claim the acceptance of others. i don’t like either one. everyone accepts the gender binary. we go around the circle. she/her. she/her. she/her. the girl next to me says she/her. my ears bleed. everyone likes others to conform. it’s my turn now. i say, “my name is lee.” i pause. i say, “i’m from dallas, texas.” i pause, longer this time. should i tell my truth or tell a lie? no one likes the person who says they/them. everyone is waiting. she is waiting. and she is waiting. and she is also waiting. i say, “they/them.” i am the only one.

loam3 griffin xu

three selves

charlie bosco

drawing2 and drawing3 anonymous

house on fire

alec o’brien


nasja wickerhauser We’re both striving for silence in our neighboring stalls, and I finish washing my hands and I’m brushing my teeth when she comes out in a white and beige uniform, shiny blonde hair in a neat bun, and I want so desperately to talk to her, so I say “I like your earrings” so easy in a language without 2nd person formal, so easy when pleasantries are ingrained in our blood, and she says “Thanks, I’m not supposed to wear them But they make me feel a little more girly” I laugh Even though on the inside I’m not laughing And I remember again and again, my war with femininity. And I feel bad for the pretty woman in white and beige Hedge-trimmers on her belt-loop and cubic zirconia through her ears. ··· instead of meek and mild Femininity barrages me with gruesome images of rapes and emaciated, bulimic figures… she stabs me with eyebrow pencils and rakes curling irons over my skin, and I cry, can’t stop crying, when I think of her… bathroom woman leaves the x chromosome safe (?) space and alone I sit on the fine line between pity and envy, which is where I’ve sat most of my life.

liability i of the storm lost boy bleeding heart still remember

lorde of monsters and men troye sivan regina spektor bloc party

part two:



bread lee

but am i really? anonymous

I don’t believe in God but I catch myself on the cliff edge with the words He sure fucked up when He made me, hanging off my tongue and they say It will get better you’ll get away from this hell hole but what can I do when it just has been the dust accumulating on the surface of the shelves turning into sand and choking me unnatural the beast bellows an error in the system the beast craves for clean chalk lines and clarity, cleanliness, sanity always a presence whenever I attempt to make a clumsy attempt at emotion capitalizing upon doubt and ungainliness But am I really? Am I sure of the monsters in my closet that I will surely never go back to shadows streaked behind me on the dust barren path But am I really? tired of constantly floating, silently choking unable to surface But am I really? exhausted by being hidden by the invisibility cloak but people always able to find my mark and impale me their bloody hands, hate in their eyes, terror in mine But am I really?

self-portrait alec o’brien

loam1 (right) loam2 (left)

griffin xu

always closer might tell you tonight trade mistakes talk me down home

panic! at the disco tegan and sara scissor sisters panic! at the disco troye sivan phillip phillips

part three

e: pining

i want your art nasja wickerhauser

I want to do things in my life things, you, things I want to write about the nouns I feel, like emotions, oceans, bodies, yours. I want to sit across from you at a small wooden table with our cups of orange juice and scrambled eggs between us, and I want to reach over and grab your hands, soft because I love them and not because you don’t touch things, me, things, and I want you to know that I crave you, someone like you, you, that our passion for life is large enough to include one for each other, and you are not supple, no, you are a hard outline of beauty that knows what she wants and the world is your easel and if, let me say this, if you were my child I would let you paint on my walls without restraint.

When asked, “Why did you fall in love with her?” I’m thinking it’s something in the way she says, “No,” Like she’s not sure but she’s going to be stubborn about it anyway. And it’s in the way she looks at art— like she’s already lost herself in it-And someone needs to fish her out. And it’s in the way she stands in a thunderstorm, Thanking the world for being mighty and fierce. And how she whistles and dances in the middle of the street, Like the spotlight is on her— like it’s only ever supposed to have been on her. It’s in the way she devours books, and pulls life lessons out of the tune Of a bird’s song. How she leaves when she needs to, no matter how hard. It’s in how she remembers details— grasping and clawing for knowledge As if it’s better than oxygen. It’s in how her eyes look when she smiles, Daring you to smile with her. I think she’s immortal. I hope so.


bread lee

purple lilacs bread lee

the girl at the coffee shop by the library where i study joy mersmann Routines were good, kept everything flowing smoothly and the mental gears well-oiled. Getting up early, showering in the dark, sucking in a tetchy breath of cold air when she stepped outside with stillwet hair, these things kept her functioning properly. Sliding in through the sparse, grumpy morning crowd in the warm, coffee-roasted air of the coffee shop, getting a coffee to dump half-and-half in until it was little more than hot, bitter cream, exchanging casual nods-and-smiles of familiarity with the barista woman who often-but-not-always manned the counter in the mornings. These were all part of the routine. Equally part of the routine was the curious, expanding feeling in her chest, when the barista smiled back.

She seems nice, the cafe-goer thought absentmindedly. She thought this every morning that that particular barista was there. She’d never actually talked to this particular barista beyond placing her order, though she did enjoy talking with the people who worked in cafes and sandwich shops while they made and brought out her order. When you went back to the same places over and over, striking up conversation meant being welcomed whenever you walked in the door, meant the man who made sandwiches laughing along when you asked for hot sauce on everything, meant a little glow of good feeling every time you got food. She’d made conversation with people who handed her coffee, snacks, meals, her change. There was a casual joy to it.

But she’d never talked with this woman. Their nods of familiarity came from almost a year and a half of asking for coffee and the occasional pastry. Maybe because the thought of it made her feel curiously shy. She could feel herself warming to that smile­—not in a physical sense, but in an emotional one, turning to the good nature in it like a flower to the sun. Serving thousands everyday, and that barista’s smile was forthright and open to someone who didn’t even know her name. They could be friends, given a few minutes outside the coffee shop. I could be friends, she thought, with someone with a smile like that. I could be friends with a girl like that. An idle thought, but a genuine one. A friendly smile, even for strangers. She would be glad, to know a person like that. But they’d never spoken. Never had a conversation. That girl, that barista, she had no idea what her name was. She’d never glanced at the nametag long enough to find out. What are we? she wondered,

In a universe where I’ve talked to you besides asking for my coffee, what are we together? I’ve wondered this, morning routine repeated no less than twice a week, right along with ordering a coffee, whenever my chest expands and goes warm at your smile.

“What’s the world like where I warm to your smile and you warm to mine, and then we do something about that?” She could see it, too, clearly enough to wonder. This woman, she thought, means nothing to me. I don’t know her name. I don’t know what she studies. I have no idea if she’s even a student here or not. English might not be her first language, and I wouldn’t know. We aren’t anything together. We just exist in roughly the same time and place. But in another world, it feels like we could be. Maybe this world, if I ever decide to talk to you, but I likely won’t.

I wonder, she thought, what’s the world like where we’re friends? I don’t know what you study, but I’d know then, and I bet it’d be fascinating, because you seem like you could make things fascinating. Business? Yeah, I could see you studying business. We’d trade hellos in passing and know each other’s names, maybe text.

out that door and moved to Europe, I would feel the lack like a rearrangement of bookshelves in the library; a change to acknowledge and move on.

This is what this woman thinks, every time this particular barista—whose name she does not know— smiles at her when handing her coffee. For a moment of What’s the world like where existential bewilderment, it’s I warm to your smile and you surprisingly routine. warm to mine, and then we do something about that? The person that she might What’s the universe like, be in a world where she is where I love your smile a desperately, heartrendingly little more personally? I in love with the girl at that could see being warm for the coffee shop is utterly foreign rest of my life, at a smile to her, and does not exist like yours, at the good and where she is now. But in the easygoing nature that seems glimpse of a good nature like it would be behind it. hidden in a good smile, she senses that she stands on I don’t even know this the intersection of adjacent woman. She just smiles when worlds, and it lingers with she hands over my coffee her; not with regret, but in and I noticed that she seems wonder. nice, so I smile back more often than not. Warm cup in hand, she shuffled out of the shop, still None of this has happened. feeling the shivery tingle of None of it’s real, here, the rice-paper walls of the now. I am not in love with multiverse in her fingertips. this girl, and if she stopped Time to start studying. That working here and stopped was the next part of the studying here and walked routine.


katy chang

coming of age nasja wickerhauser

I shaved not to escape (you) but to reconcile myself with myself. Unlike legs voila my shaven head stripped me of my femininity. (It’s ok. You didn’t like me anyways.) So there I was, with no hair on my scalp and struggling with my self respect. I thought I was doing myself a favor. (I wasn’t.) Eventually, my hair grew back and I slowly crawled into society’s realized expectations. As I felt my curls tickle my spine, I was a woman. desired By who? Who knows. Myself. Time passes and matter cycles and energy flows and I have spent 1000 years of my life in the same damn building building myself to be the person who-Do I want to be her? I am And a part of me wants to cram metaphors down your throat and be admired, a part of me, yes, but the rest of me just wants to grow my hair out.

i’m happy just to dance with you sweater weather youth iris for him.

the beatles the neighbourhood troye sivan kina grannis troye sivan

part four:

: falling

nearly witches

bread lee

loring pond kate hao

Among the dragonflies, we watch the water shiver-dance with the sunlight. I am listening to our silence. I have a confession caught on the soft parts of my mouth. It’s humid. The summer, meager and gasping, is between our bodies. I think I could go home to this silence. I think I’ve been here before, perhaps not this very lake or this exact girl, but I remember this cinnamon heat, the mango sticky of my palms, my hunger for empty air. I swallow. The water stills, the dragonflies are vanished. There’s no one left to keep us company but ourselves and our absences. Once, we went to a farmers’ market. I bought cilantro and green onions as long as my arms, peonies and peaches, too. What is want if not my elbows, their crooks spilling, and her hands, taking a photo? She turns. In the ravenous summer we sit, our overflows recognizing each other, I think, through the quiet, making eye contact, no words left to give over to damp air, only the spaces in between.

sweet magnolia, tell me more about the stars & moon and sun (if zodiac desire speaks the truth, I’ll never once tell a lie, just half-baked faith and edibles). picture half-a-dozen drive-in donuts split in halves; we’ll call each half a lover parting with a lover, exchanging goodnight kisses in a fog of neon red. perfection is a truth I preach of her, how she let me have this denim dance and the colors of a turtleneck, & so I memorize the moments of our hands, interlocked, midair above the emergency brake, and I dream of my momentum girl (in which whether here or there, she always makes it home to me), and I rearrange our toothbrushes side-by-side or back-to-front or however gets me under her skin and sheets and all, and every night (the coziest time of day) I tell my star, my sun & moon: thanks for hanging. I want you as you are, is all, & so much more each day.

gabby jung


Karly Kessler

She stands at the top of the stairs. Orange light flutters through the window, scattered by tree branches, flickering. A bonfire sunset. I wanted to frame this. Or maybe the moment before would be better. Warm cheeks, noted boundaries, flinching hearts from the creeks of the house that mimic footsteps. A little heat as the crisp fall turns to winter, and we turn to each other. An empty house contains more movement than a full one.

rated g for gay anonymous

Me, ever the realist, pessimist even hands closed into fists around myself But she walks in the light with her hands open to the sky looking up and despite the hurt Her heart is full to bursting, starry eyed and maybe I learn to live softly to loosen my fists. I’m in love with the way she loves, she moves, she smiles, and I’m not usually one for poetry but maybe I’ll make an exception.

drawing6 anonymous

gone, gone, gone end of the world immortals king and lionheart swing life away northern downpour laughter lines origin of love

phillip phillips a great big world fall out boy of monsters and men rise against panic! at the disco bastille mika

part five:

: promises to keep


nasja wickerhauser Only when she is alone in her room with four mirrors do I sneak between the thread of that dirty dirty carpet and slip under the tread of her soft soft feet and seep up the pores in her soles. Once I’ve crept inside her I exhale and relax, a heavy sigh coursing through capillaries, pushing tears out of her eyes. And like this, sturdy iron inside a skeletal frame, we walk to a mirror and I turn our neck to a sharp jawline, I stand us up: broad shouldered and powerful between our legs. We glare at ourself in the mirror and wonder about how one body can be so many souls.

broken ribs bread lee

For those who died in the Ghost Ship fire - Oakland and beyond will not forget you sienna ruiz This December 2nd marks the one year anniversary of the Ghost Ship fire, the deadliest structural fire in a decade that left a deep wound in my hometown of

Oakland, California. 36 people died in this fire, but the reason we must revisit this tragedy is not for its sheer numbers but the horrific societal forces it

“The Ghost Ship fire is what happens when we force the queer arts scene into smaller and smaller confines...” represents, as many of those who died were queer and trans artists who either lived in the warehouse or were there for a concert that was being held there that night. As for the causes of the fire, many have pointed fingers at the lack of affordable housing in the Bay Area and sit back like they have solved the mystery, but that’s not all to this story. The Ghost Ship fire is what happens when we force the queer arts scene into smaller and smaller confines, and this tragedy must be recognized as a warning for similar scenes in major cities across America—cities like New York and San Francisco that have built their alternative reputations on queer resistance yet stifle that resistance today. Where would they be without their radical roots? There would be no tourism, no interest if there were no punk movements, no

underground music and art, no communities that dared to question the society around them. The loss of life at the Ghost Ship fire represents more than just a tragic accident—it is a sign of danger for the queer arts communities nationwide that struggle to survive against gentrification. What struck me about this fire, besides the fact that it was so close to home in so many ways, was that it was not like any of the great catastrophes I read about in history books. This was no Triangle Shirtwaist fire—it was not a crowded, suffocating factory where you just knew the inhuman disregard for the workers would inevitably rise up in flames. No, this warehouse was undeniably cool. Tapestries hung from the walls, sculptures and paintings decorated the corners, all different types of

lamps were strung together along the ceiling. The furniture was arranged so artistically, with pianos and couches, tables and record players, clocks and speakers all too close together but so beautiful that of course no one would ask questions about fire escapes or open windows. This corner of the world, this warehouse overlooked in the middle of the city, was manipulated into a space that was beautiful for the creative souls it housed but deadly for their bodies. There was a concert the night of the fire, and I can imagine the atmosphere— live music, laughter, dancing, that sense of relief and excitement that always comes when you finally belong in community that one is so hard pressed to find these days. Months after the Orlando Pulse shooting, where dozens of queer and trans people of color were shot at a nightclub, the Ghost Ship fire represents a different sort of violence against the queer community; a slow sort of violence, one that forces us into corners, forces us to

transform these corners into spaces that are bearable but precarious. Here, our knack for surviving on the fringes is what got us in the end. What would Oakland look like if we invested into the queer arts community that has been so critical to our history? There is too much blood on the streets to cater to the rich, to the developers who want to gentrify downtown and don’t care about the violence mere blocks away. What if instead of keeping a sickening balance between pleasing the extremely well off and cleaning up the violence only when it becomes too large to ignore, we created a space to create and love and let go?

(left) deadnames bread lee

(prev. page) we built this house charlie bosco

Iridescence: Boundaries  

Issue 1: Boundaries

Iridescence: Boundaries  

Issue 1: Boundaries