MDR-TB [Helen Townsend]

She believes me when
I tell her it isn’t personal.
We explain it’s evidence-based
that we have to watch her
take every dose
that she has to sit alone
in a hotel room we pay for
that she can’t leave
without a mask
that we have to test
all of her friends
at the shelter.
Science says TB floats in the air.
We tell her we don’t test
her for HIV because
she looks the part.
We tell her it is science-based.
We base our tests on science.
It is science-based to say
TB and HIV make each other worse
like lies plus zealotry.
She doesn’t like to be called vulnerable.
She worked
as a rodeo clown
until a bull threw her
into a fence.
She had a dentist
and all of her teeth
until the divorce.
She apologized to the fetus
for the bad luck
of no birth vs. birth into
fists and teeth flying.
She apologized once.
She says she doesn’t feel entitled
to forgiveness or praise.
She considers herself down on her luck.
We explain in our line of work
an entitlement is a promise
to the old ones for a roof
to the young ones for a chance.
For the promises that require money
a promise to provide the money.
We tell her it’s not just the poor.
Even lucky ones
can get TB.
Everyone breathes.
She worries about the
transgender woman
who slept on the cot next to her
worries about what she will do
worries if she will ever see her again.
They held hands
at night to go to sleep.
She tells us about
the diversity of sounds
on the street
how the animals and insects
trade places in the mind
how the wind smells
different in the sun
how boots in the alley
sound like snapping traps
how bathrooms with
room to turn around
and signage that says
whatever feel homey
how hallways
never feel kind
and how it’s been so long
since she had her own stove
that she’s afraid to turn it on.
The time she tried to boil
water for ramen
she meditated
on the flames and bubbles
until the bottom of the pan
crusted over
and the fire alarm went off
in a diversity of profanity
and the hotel manager
cursing the health department
and whores like her.
She asks if hate is science-based
or evidence-based.
She swallows her pills
and I leave
with a fist in my throat.


Helen Townsend, TB Nurse Consultant and poem writer, lives and works in Indianapolis. She tweets at @prsgrlks.
Inspiration: The inspiration for this poem came directly from my work. The woman who inhabits this poem, while fictional, embodies so many of the risk factors and the needs of our clients.

Nothing gets me high anymore [Catherine Pond]

Listen, if you like big things, you’ll love these fires. They’re bigger than ever,
bigger than that button on your desk. In California we sit around free-basing

facts, reading science-based reports about the dawn of the Anthropocene era,
but don’t let that worry you. In fact, you should come to California sometime:

you’d love our transgender moon, glowing and spinning like every other
celestial being. And the diversity of our golden sunsets, spread out

like a stock portfolio across the sky — you’d be all over it. I should warn you:
abortion is legal here and we’re not scared off by photos of dead fetuses.

On the upside, your face will fit right in. We’ve got just as much entitlement
as the East Coast, and although sometimes the Hollywood liberal elite

use big words, I can coach you before your arrival. For instance, propaganda
is an old-fashioned term meaning ‘alternative facts’ as in, statements

that are not evidence-based and/or which contradict the evidence, such as
‘I never raped my own wife’ or ‘I’m a great President, the greatest of all time.’

Seriously, I don’t see any reason why we can’t all get along. I’m sure you could
teach me a few things. And in return I’ll teach you some poetry,

including all the best lines by the best poets. Like Shakespeare, who wrote:
Thou doth protest too much. Or ee cummings, who noted:

Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.


Catherine Pond’s writing has appeared in Boston Review, Narrative, Rattle, and many more. She is a PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California.

Inspiration: I wrote this poem in response to Trump’s tweet in which he brags that his nuclear button is bigger than Kim Jong Un’s. But it’s also about my frustration and disgust in general with the current administration.


The Magnificent Seven: Seven Decades of New York Times Headlines [Katherine Abrams]

Vulnerable Potentate (1972)
Vulnerable Places (2008)
Vulnerable Buildings (2002)
Vulnerable Citizens (2002)
Vulnerable Software (2003)
The Vulnerable Become More Vulnerable (2005)

What Entitlement Is (1981)
Entitlement Bungling (1994)
The Curse of Entitlement (2007)
Bankers’ Sense of Entitlement (2010)
Entitlement Reform for the Entitled (2012)
Jared Kushner’s Entitlement is New Jersey Born and Bred (2017)

Diversity (1947)
Diversity (1955)
Diversity Training (1999)
Diversity is Not in Your Head (2017)
Tech’s Troubling New Trend: Diversity Is in Your Head (2017)

Milestones in the American Transgender Movement (2015)
Rights Unit Finds Bias Against Transgender Student (2013)
Transgender at the CIA (2015)
Judges Lifts Transgender Restrictions in Military (2017)
How Should High Schools Define Sexes for Transgender Athletes? (2017)
Twitter Has a Transgender Problem (2017)

What’s the Value of a Fetus? (2003)
To Protect a Fetus from Violence (2001)
Rights of the Fetus (1972)
The Woman Behind the Fetus (1989)
Risking Safety of Fetus (2000)

Evidence-Based Medicine (2001)
What We Mean When We Say Evidence-Based Medicine (2017)
Alcoholics Anonymous and the Challenge of Evidence-Based Medicine (2015)
Liability and Standards in Evidence-Based Medicine (2010)

Jerusalem Planning to Develop Park for Science-Based Industry (1968)
In Science-Based Medicine, Where Does Luck Fit In? (2006)


Katherine Abrams is a poet, educator, mother, and feminist who desperately wishes to open the eyes of those who just don’t see what’s happening.

Inspiration: This poem is inspired by the unnerving events since the swearing in of the Trump administration, and the way the news media has been belittled and devalued by that administration. The use of New York Times headlines reframes important the work journalists do while reflecting on the terms being censored at the CDC as public terms, used in public forums, to describe public events and increase public understanding.



(en) Title (ment) [Sima Rabinowitz]

Rabinowitz 02-13-18 image.png


Sima Rabinowitz’s poem “Nuestra Música” appeared in the March 29, 2017 issue of Writers Resist.

Inspiration: As a science writer whose work engages me in writing about basic, translational, clinical, and population health research, I read or write the phrase “evidence-based” almost every day. The irony in this governmental censorship of, and assault on, language is that “evidence” is, in many ways, a completely subjective concept.

The beginning comes after you bury your dead [Mateo Lara]

For my friends

Tu sabes, las palabras se convirtieron en el enemigo.
Pero así es como empieza todo.

how gripping a swollen moon
could scatter its powerful display
Retracting gleaming golden hints
To what would survive the next drought of science-based evidence
In becoming wild and remote in
Someone’s glinting eyes.
Cross your heart, hope to die, in the face of God
White stripes on your red lies, blue across our savage lands.
Tell me what escapes from this experiment on our tired words
I only get one chance to feel this rumbling and crashing
Making sense of
this entitlement: grief swarms
I’m vulnerable in every piece of brown flesh
Showing and glowing as the storm hits.
They are shocked at burning hands
diversity among rotting corpses
decaying in the wombs of
some deity you couldn’t understand
the fetus of ignorance in our mouths
what will you do now?
It’s a test-subject, evidence-based mess, determining my unruly queen
Is something to be snuffed out, she will outlive all your houses
Stalking your after thought
Breathing under dirt
I feel the “crashing-down”
Our vulnerable stance
Come clinging and tricking us
Evaporating the magic
Of our transgender brothers and sisters
Sleeping in their glittery shadow
On my wall, come rebirth in my breath
Or take yourself somewhere safer
In kingdom stolen at midnight
Rising, buzzing science of aftermath trauma
On our new world.
Come needing, fulfilling prophecy
Power on bruised ribs, come seek what will fall
Palm, not giving up
Así es como termina.


Mateo Lara is from Bakersfield, California. He is studying English Literature at CSU Bakersfield. He is proud to be latinx, learning to embrace his identity inside history, language, and culture. His poems have been featured in The New Engagement and EOAGH. He has a chapbook, X Marks the Spot, on Amazon.

Inspiration: The inspiration for my piece came from the idea of silencing people and taking away words. Where’s the beginning when we keep seeing the dissolving of identity and acceptance? I wanted to reflect defiance and strength. I hope I achieved that.


Invulnerable Mascot: A Song of Unsayables [Rhiannon Dickerson]

for the CDC

There are things we cannot say now.
We carry their husks like frozen puppies
in our mouths, like a fetus warmed
in the curve of my winter palms
huddled for safe passage, for easy transport.

Do not ask me to mean for you.

I walked to the river with the things I cannot say like
words foraged from a burning bush like
words lifted from disappearing scripture like
words plucked from the plumage of a shrieking peacock like
wordseeds pickpocketed from generational sweaters like

The river was not frozen–it never listens anyway
entitled by its own currency–so I walked
out onto the water. Invulnerable mascot,
the hem of my skirt, barely damp, rippled where I walked.

The river light refracted in many places at once–
find yourself missing like
the transgender mirror that shook loose reflection.

The river did not not welcome me.
I built an elaborate altar for the encyclopedia of unsayables.
The crushed dove’s feathers stuck
to the walls of my oral cavity.

My mouth is science-based, I sing.

My altar’s top is trout and snail.
My altar is evidence-based
and wobbles on the fast-moving current.

Do not ask me and the river does not.



Since graduating from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Rhiannon Dickerson lives and teaches in Kansas City, MO. Her work has appeared in LIT, Mid-American Review, Pleiades, and other journals.

Inspiration: The day after the word-ban was released, I woke up with the first line of this poem in my head. The rest came quickly.



Evidence-based [Elizabeth Paxson]

They decreed certain words to be an entitlement,
so she needed to know if anything
evidenced-based could be erased
if science-based facts could be pretended
down a rabbit hole where a bonfire
fed by idiots always burns
but leaves no smoke, no ash, no trace.

There’s always evidence, she said
but if you call a fetus “person”
why can’t it jump out of the body
of a woman and demand to vote,
march around the room in pin-sized uniform
instead it acts just like a parasite,
latches on and sometimes even kills the host.

It made her feel too vulnerable
as if a war on the poor was not enough
as if they knew how she felt
when the bills came due while
those rich guys flicked her off
like crumbs on their expensive suits;
one suit could pay her rent for months.

The world of privilege lacks diversity
of color, gender, social class
being gay, lesbian, transgender must be
kept hidden at all costs by old white men
though pedophilia is ok with them,
pussy-grabbing has not, as yet been banned–
but these men lack imagination.

Why not add a few more words
to what we cannot say–things like
misogyny, rape and climate change
they all go hand in hand with
what some men do to women and
the land they love to hate
these strutting, anencephalic little kings.

Let’s not forget vagina before we’re done
scarier than Jaws to Mr. Freud
make mine al dente and dentate,
add phallocentric, patriarchal
DNA, evolution, CO2 and air pollution
there’s no end once you get started
to all the words that must be shunned,

you know, the semi-automatic ones that just
get blurted out in honest conversation, but the evidence
is clear: this rabbit hole is far too deep, my dear.


Elizabeth Paxson is a writer/poet and visual artist. Thanks to an aunt who persisted in reading to her and correcting her grammar, she started following words around when she was small. They subsequently followed her, sometimes keeping her awake at night. She has had a love affair with them ever since. She recently had work accepted for the Poet’s Night Out series (Traverse Area District Library); her collection Always Birds is forthcoming from Redbird Chapbooks.

Inspiration: My dear, now departed aunt would have been livid at the mere mention of banned words or banned books. I got my revolutionary tendencies from her. She taught me that reading and education meant access to anything and everything, and especially forbidden material, because there is always a political agenda behind the banning of literature, and that is never a good idea. It only encourages us.

Three Signs You Started Out as a Girl [Maria Theresa Maggi]

In the first weeks of life, a fetus has
no anatomic or hormonal sex, only a karyotype,
which is sort of kind of like a teeny tiny unpacked
cellular suitcase full of evidence-based transgender power.
Before the unpacking takes place,
the little fetus first has signs of being female,
which makes for the science-based
reality you started out as a girl,
as vulnerable and unusual and splendid
as any other transgender miracle.

The first female entitlement is nipples,
left on you only as decoration, diversity’s
oversight. Secondly, the counterintuitive penis:
its fabled originality is vulnerable to controversy.
Evidence-based data demonstrates
it’s not a unique male entitlement, but instead
a larger version of the clitoris.
In other words, your mountain is her valley.

And thirdly—perhaps the fairy tale charm—
that weird seam running down your scrotum?
it used to be where the fetus of a vagina began,
until the vagina of the fetus got sewn up in skin
by Mother Nature, the first sex change surgeon.

Rejoice in feeling vulnerable; this pliable metamorphosis
is a precious entitlement of every fetus, bestowed on you
by the evidence-based science-based
diversity of life in all its fleeting, color-full transgender
peacock tail feathers-opening star fire.


Maria Theresa Maggi’s poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals. She is the author of two collections of poetry, The Rings Around Saturn, published by The Black Rock Press at the University of Nevada, and a chapbook, If A Sparrow, from Finishing Line Press. She is also a visual artist and created the cover art for both her volumes of poetry. She writes and illustrates the blog Plant-Based Slow Motion Miracle.

Inspiration: “Three Signs You Started Out as a Girl” came from a delightful combination of comments regarding the banned words made by men on Facebook in the form of rhetorical questions about starting out as female and/or transgender, and an internet medical column I found geared to a general readership of men that catalogued these 3 signs.

A letter to my third-grade teacher (after my father-in-law says “transgender aren’t people”) [Megan Merchant]  

I need you to know that I am so sorry for asking how Hitler
was able to convince so many they were bright, that they were
greater than. That entitlement was a virtue. I am sorry for asking
you to explain that equation, how some were flawed and dark,
while others were airy & bright. How some are judged to be
vulnerable, others strong. I am sorry for asking how the diversity
we are given as fetuses is in any way connected to character, and
for pointing out the science-based and obvious—that not a single
one of us gets to choose the color of our skin, the language we
first taste upon our tongue. I am sorry if I put you on the spot.
Evil is terribly vague. Difficult to explain away with evidence-based
logic. And I thought we had learned from our scars. But most of all,
I am sorry for saying this could never happen again. If this current
wave of hatred is in any way your means of answering, of experiential
learning, let me first say that your long game is strong. But please, stop now.


Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ.  She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press, 2016), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Award Winner, Glass Lyre Press, 2017), four chapbooks, and a forthcoming children’s book with Philomel Books. She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera. She is an Editor at The Comstock Review and you can find her work at

Inspiration: This poem roared after a real conversation. Instead of arguing, I chose to use my breath to cast a wider light. The dark agenda of fear does not want us to see each other & or the ways in which we are all connected.