A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Joe Nicholas


from The Beauty of Admission


I have this theory about the illusion of a river

All this time playing pretend & nobody's paying attention

When Bozo takes off his nose is he back to being Bob?

I have so many questions & never enough time

to word them correctly/I'd rather be

a glass of water

than an ocean made of sand/Does this make sense to you?

I got drunk & followed

my self back home/You know I'm always

losing my way



from The Beauty of Admission


An alien watches me while I sleep


Its eyes are filled with yellow-white 


stars/It's smiling & its lips 


are dry/In time 


I'll call my self a good human being


In time the trees will all crumble & we'll forget


they were there


Yesterday I held a balloon between my teeth & blew


It was shiny & red & made everyone laugh


Sometimes I wish I was a floating away until I realize


that's exactly what I'm doing


On my last night before moving out of Burlington, VT I asked my lovely friend to give me my first and only "stick n' poke" tattoo: the transgender symbol on the inside of my right foot. The placement of it reminds me of the fact that I am often felt forced to hide who I am in this culture where trans discrimination is still an acceptable practice in the workplace and beyond. More importantly, every time I see it I am filled with the warmth of the gorgeous and radiant person who gave it to me, and the community of acceptance I found during my time living in Vermont, empowering me as I continue to feel more comfortable presenting as a genderqueer human.

 Joe Nicholas (AKA Dirty 4 String Orchestra) is an evolution of experiments and experiences. Their work can be found or is forthcoming in alien mouth, BOAAT, Found Poetry Review, Queen Mob's Tea House, The Nervous Breakdown, and other wonderful publications. Their chapbook Street Monk can be found at Bottlecap Press. They can be found at