Polyphonic Autopsy

Joy Belonger

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 Polyphonic Autopsy of a Woman Who May Not andor Cannot Exist

the chart below shows the decline in the fire death rate (2006-2015)

                                     they    gouged     out               eyes
                                                                                                            I’s [sic]

the chart below shows the trend (2006-2015)

                                                          Joey [sic]


I saw you in the Daily Beast etc. a little late, no smoke:
the webpage was chalk-white suitable for reading (excess of 700°C)
the text a clear dark brown-black (300°C–400°C)
my head was sent into an ash-like gray (500°C–600°C)
careening against this brown-yellow yellow yellow [sic] (200°C)

Fragmentation of burnt bones & survival of trauma made on bones

My heart breaking in two,
Please help me.
I miss you Joey [sic] dad loves you,
May u rip in peace.
She was scared. Because of … just scared.

It was an accident. So many trans women these days
live in multiple Ziploc bags. Sleep there. God I am so lucky.
We shared a name once. I have a cousin with two older sisters. Her name/
your name would have been mine if I’d been born a girl [sic] like her.


Keywords: burnt remains, burnt bone, cremation, DNA degradation, micro-CT
Keywords: when, she, didn’t, drink, poison, they, stabbed, her, multiple, times, in, her, genitals


The other night I was walking home
and I got viciously scared.
I wore knee-highs and a knife-
pleated skirt.
I was alone. Every pedestrian was a knife [sic]
or a martini glass of antifreeze, sweet,
or gasoline.
That’s when I think of you
and you and you and you.


            THEM:       the skull almost always stays, for the most part, intact,                                                            leaving the brain in relatively good shape [sic]
               YOU:       I am beautiful I don’t care what people think
ALSO THEM:      You were supposed to stick to the story

I checked your social media, the only place you were
out. It was like a ghost town but
with better hair! This past fall mine was
the same color. Sunset.
I think we might be the same person
or friends. Let’s get engaged [sic]!
I cannot bear the thought of living in a world
without you.


the pie chart below shows causes of outside fires (2015)

other (4.4%)
act of nature (4.7%)
under investigation (4.8%)
           intentional (17.1%)             unintentional, careless [sic] (43.1%)
             undetermined (25.9%)

the pie chart below shows (2015)

                          single                                                     ugly [sic]
                                      probable                           am
                                                       will              I


I imagine coroners
and forensic scientists
in their Tyvek paper suits.
I imagine ampules of
dark amber, liquid time.
In the corner is a centrifuge
spinning biological tempest.
I want to be
better than them [sic].
I don’t think I am.


[instagram user] @[instagram user] murder
[instagram user] @[instagram user] Rest [sic] in power


All this to say—
dear Not Joey—
this is Joey.
Today      I   found out
when     bones   burn at 1,100°C they          lose  half
their    volume             /weight.     Our world     is like    that     now,
feels        as         insubstantial   as   a          crepe      dove
unfolding                        its                              lissome                wings
int  o                         the                 Mid  west                    s ky                                   [si c].    .



“You remember the ansible, the machine I showed you in the ship, which can speak
instantly to other worlds, with no loss of years — it was that that they were after, I expect.”
–Rocannon’s World, Ursula K Le Guin


I am holding metal in my hand faster than
L i g h t
Heartbeat of      s o u n d     (limitless
a c c e s s)


This                    will               save             on          the             paper
we exchanged twice a year       or      so
I sold your letters on the bluemark   et
to pay               for the  u pgrade
&        here we are a-
cross peerless                              space


I am       s u r r o u n d e d       by
plastic shells
filled with your gold & copper hair
a new       t y p e       of wheat to farm
labyrinthine       p l a net             miles & miles
while we pun on
a n s w e r a b l e


The version                       of us
witho ut      this already exists
Precious rocks     T he match checks             out
perfec tly                                                                    The math I
me an


I am    a f t e r     the surgery which converted you
into an     i m p lant
S o     c l o s e      n o w     We play
the mirror game
We smash mothers’ china against    w a l l s    give each
other    m igr ai n e s &            n o se bleeds


When we first met I had a vision that                       the   wor d
was                     in     l o v e
it seems so stupid                    now
to think one day we’d be               unrecogni zable
that the                                s u r p r i s e         or                       disappointm ent
could have        be en the    point


I     a m                 Y o ua m


Lik e     g ravity
on e                                  p o i n t                                         has to be fi xed
a rela tionship of                 c ertain        m a s s      but    the ot her       en d
mu st    be            m ust mus t be                          port   ab l e


Lov Ie G H T
L I Go Hn e T
L I G Hel p T       me


Joy Belonger reading “Polyphonic Autopsy”:

Joy Belonger reading “Ansible”:


Joy Belonger is a queer transfeminine writer, educator, and printmaker from Chicago, IL. They hold an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where they were an instructor & writing fellow. Previous work has appeared in Cleaver, TIMBER, Nat. Brut, Dreginald and elsewhere.