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Three lyric essays by Liam Strong

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

we will always be /bIe/

after Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal

always look at “b” for baby or bye-bye or boy. (the voiced bilabial stop of /b/ is a consonant sound inverted like an erection.)

words that describe what bye can constitute: tsetchem leshalom, farewell, parting, separation.


something about /b/ is phonetically obtuse. the vocal tract is occlusive. a pulmonic hand around the throat. /b/ wants to /be/, which is to exist, which is to find meaning. /b/ wants to /buh/ like a baby greeting language in their mouth for the first time. or a kind of blubbering into a tissue.

Virginia Woolf’s Orlando lives bi for centuries. centuries suggests that no phenomenon is ever really newfound. Orlando wakes up one morning a woman. this is a miracle. it is not a choice.

something about “i” is phonetically dehumanized. “i” is always singular. it is unrounded. meaning the mouth is not a center. meaning we, as in the multitudinous i, the bilateral you, is a periphery. we have two eyes but are one (1) person(s).

things that sound adjacent to /bIe/: tote bins clasped shut, Sprite fizz, an iPhone message sent, pizza scraped out of a stone oven, wind shuffling through reeds on a golf course, closing a stick of lip balm, the plunk of marimba keys, a swarm of seagulls, corduroy rubbing between thighs.

the origin of bi is in itself a binary. the morphology of sexual is unclear. in Latin sexus implores a state of being either male or female. sex means to cut up, to sever. the prefix bi means two, twice, double, paired, both. sometimes there is no avoiding ambiguity. the prefix can be removed to then say “every two.” a pair is a dependency. a pair is a monogamy. but that would suggest a singularity.

words that rhyme with /bIe/: nearby, alibi, my, why, guy, try die, identify, july, butterfly, verify, versailles, chai, sigh, occupy, satisfy, hereby, thereby, rabbi, lullaby, thy, multiply, hi.

something about “e” is phonetically elusive. it tails the “i” like wedding cans exploding after a car. like a silent scream. the phenome describes the “e” as short or narrow. where is the e in mystery? where is the i in Mississippi? are there any?

bi, like bye or two, accepts collision as a kind of separation. friction celebrates erasure, appraises conditional blending, a cause smearing its identity onto another cause. result: an “e”ffect. the e trails off because exclusion is not a variable. a double moon does not align with its counterpart. a counterpart is not necessarily the other half to a whole. phonation of bi vibrates the vocal cords, its articulation requiring both lips. air escapes through the mouth only.

something about the word bisexual is too sexual, too much like a god-devil dualism. the hyphen functions less as a bridge and more like a conduit. connection purports inclusion into oneself. one’s self. sexual is too sexual. intimacy is a kind of touch that does not require touch. bi exists as a fluid mixed of many. we could gaze into the middle of any solid and find a liquid. there are an infinite amount of middles divided between every middle. a middleground is not a measured space. no continuum is.


words that describe what bye can constitute: godspeed, pleasant journey, send-off, so long.

always look at separation as acceptance.

on the topic of darwinism through the eyes of a dead deer

factoid: a fawn will lie flat as a mower shears queen anne’s lace from a tart cherry orchard.

add. fact: as a fawn is eviscerated by a mower it makes no discernable sound.

moral: victory is often achieved in tiny increments. this is not a lesson for the fawn.

factoid: a human being can be allergic to the heat. the cold also.

[consider your varieties. as in: fortitude, vulnerability, weakness, strength, flaw,

coil, advantage, wherewithal, economy. is it pragmatic, as a snowy owl would say, to submit yourself to what makes you less fit.]

(a)moral: consider that all causes of death are common. consider your varieties, i.e., how your body is an image of ___. consider what might be weaned.

-spines from a gooseberry

-mange from a salmon

-man from a woman

-prefix from its fixation

factoid: in the event a fawn’s body is never seen after its death (often so), mourning follows.

celebration also.

add. fact: most bodies (living or deceased) are never truly seen.

solution: to queer a body (& in turn its survival)

is to make it less fit for death & dying.

moral: does a fawn desire more ways to live, less ways to die, or neither–

etymology: “i am dying to know what happens in the next episode.”

life is ___ a ___ of ___, you never/always know what you’re gonna ___.”

[consider variety as a leaf. then a branch. its buds, vestibules of change, seasonry.

as a tree. maybe you’re a shrub today. consider the sugar maple: how one tree is pink in the fall one year, then bloodied the next, then tangerine, then burgundy. consider that survival is a trend, a fallacy, a fable, or all of the above.]

equation concluding with an overused sex swing


if θ and ψ are formulas of L1K=, then so is (θ→ψ).

deduce that the boi will reply with an interrogative sans the question mark.

the symbols “&,” “∨,” and “→” are called binary connectives.

deduce that you will not connect but will connect. just not according to the pedagogy of the biological functionalists.

deduce that the boi will degrade his lols to hahas.

every formula of L1K= has the same number of left & right parentheses.

deduce that the boi has no butt to speak of. which is to say you will never get to be inside him. which is to say when Apollo flayed Marsyas alive & turned him into a stream it meant that anyone could take a sip, dip their toes, swim in his former body.

deduce that you no longer have a body. deduce that you no longer have a body worth wanting, but for others to have. to halve. deduce that having a body is not worth it.

if a formula has free variables, it is called open.

deduce that if no boi wants you, he was a ghost all along.

Liam Strong (they/them) is a queer neurodivergent cottagecore straight edge punk writer who has earned their B.A. in writing from University of Wisconsin-Superior. They are the author of the chapbook everyone's left the hometown show (Bottlecap Press, 2023). You can find their poetry and essays in Impossible Archetype and Emerald City, among several others. They are most likely gardening and listening to Bitter Truth somewhere in Northern Michigan.

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