Sep 24

The Futures We Live With

By JJ Peña

my high school teacher’s words: you have to start planning for the future. it falls, plop! right on your head, whether you like it or not.

normal peoples’ futures: grand, shockwaves meant to change the world, people who venture out into bubbled metropolises with the sun behind their smiles, ready to make money out of mud. they’ll find husbands & wives, have children, live until they’re gummy, & live even longer, their families squashing them alive.

my future (& for other people like me): short, a blown kiss. late nights in dark alleys & bedrooms, with moody boys who have moons inside of them, & all they want is warmth: will you treat me like fire? we’ll live like        we are called: dna guzzlers. & we’ll guzzle! until the wrong cells slip in & send us to white rooms with dishwater-colored bedsheets, weak & crumbling.

your future: a void. your short, grand body melted ice. freed from the weight of your insides, from mourning, from disease. you were diagnosed with lupus weeks before killing yourself, which meant your body would devour itself your whole life. any day your body could fall into itself, plop! the end. exactly how you described heartbreak. is that why you took your life? to choose your own future: when & how your body would end?



JJ Peña is a queer, burrito-blooded writer, living & existing in El Paso, Tx. His work appears in, or is forthcoming from Passages North, Split Lip, Into the Void, Hayden’s Ferry, & elsewhere. He has an MFA from the University of Texas at El Paso.


Art by Michelle Johnsen, art editor

Michelle Johnsen is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine,, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at]