Body of a Poem—Passing: A Hybrid Form

Pass, v.
I. To excel or surpass
1. trans.

a. To exceed in excellence or worthiness; to surpass in some activity, quality, or degree.

The Aegean lizard rests on a sandy rock. It has chosen this rock many times before. The Aegean lizard chooses this rock against other rocks, knowing its personal range of color. It is unlike other types of camouflaging animals in that it knows its own ecology; it knows its limits. The Aegean lizard is a sandy rock. The Aegean lizard is sand. The Aegean lizard is rock.

The nonbinary twenty-something rests their hand on their waist. They look at the contrast of their bra to their boxers to their nail polish. They have excellent hair, long and wavy. The nonbinary twenty-something is unlike other genders in that they have perfected the trades of both genders in an attempt to disappear into the hormonal flux of difference.

The hybrid writer does not believe in binary genres. The hybrid writer is neither prose nor poetry. They do not believe that the binary genres define hybrid writing, but that hybrid writing reinforces binary genres, even surpasses them.

b. To exceed in number, measurement, or amount; to surpass (a person) in wealth or number of possessions. Also (in early use): to be older than (obs.). Now rare.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam is alone. Adam is ungendered. Without Eve, Adam is a gardener. With Eve, Adam is man. We know this because he cannot give birth. We call him a man because he does not eat the apple. Adam is a man because he is not something else.

The chameleon changes its cellular structure to reflect different wavelengths of light from its skin. Its two layers contain nanocrystals, millions of them in countless shapes and sizes, that make up iridophore cells.

The nonbinary twenty-something is only one person. They are not wealthy. They are not rare. They exceed in measurement only in that when their body grows, they appear more feminine. They do not pass. They are aware of this.

The hybrid writer has millions of letters sprawled across a screen. They pick from them and arrange them in a semi-sensical form.

2. trans. To be beyond the range or compass of (a faculty or expression); to be too great for, transcend.

The octopus is one creature and it is many. Today, it mimics the form of a poisonous flatfish. It masquerades with its many arms tucked behind it. Not only for protection, the octopus performs as the poisonous fish for survival, tucking its prey into its sucking arms, tucking its prey into its large mouth.

The hybrid writer does not write in reaction to genre. The hybrid writer does not steal from genre. The hybrid writer is transgenre. They are beyond the range or compass of genre. They may be too great for genre. They transcend genre.

The nonbinary twenty-something reads CAConrad’s “Gender Continnuum” alone in their bed. He writes to Anne Waldman about Eden: “…Day seven was male, but days two through six were variations of our world. The aim of physical, political, and sociological outcomes were in constant flux days two through six. Margins were permitted to drop in meditation. Permission to drop margins is an exceptional space to offer yourself and others…” The nonbinary twentysomething

drops their margins on a lonely Sunday, drops their hair
down as they’ve seen women do. They are
a variation of our world. They are
a sociological outcome
of our world,
as are

3. trans. To exceed or overstep (bounds, limits, rules, etc.); to deviate or digress from; (fig.) to go beyond (one’s province, knowledge, etc.). Also intr. to deviate, stray (obs.).

Scientists are not sure if camouflage is always effective for animals showing regular variation in appearance.

Scientists are not sure because they have not tried.

Animals who vary in appearance among their own species choose to camouflage against something most close to their own individual appearance. Some animals, like the Japanese quail, hide their eggs where they see optimal safety. Some animals, unaware of their own evolution, hide where they are taught to hide, though they differ in physical appearance from their teacher.
These species are endangered.
These species are dying out.

Someone tells the nonbinary twenty-something they cannot be something in    between. The nonbinary twenty-something does not feel in between. They don’t feel

underneath or
They do not know the rules
they have somehow overstepped.

They do not remember stepping. They do not remember being anything else. They do not say this out loud. They hide their thoughts in camouflage eggs, tie them down into spaces between rocks. They have learned to find their own hiding spots. They have learned to hide where they are most visible.

The hybrid writer exceeds genre. The hybrid writer steps over genre’s wires. The hybrid writer learns that digression in a binary genre may be the hybrid writer’s progression. The hybrid writer makes things up as they go. They do not put regulation on words. They do not put regulation on form. They do not regulate. They do not regular.

4. trans. To go beyond (a point or place); to overshoot (a mark); to rise above, surmount. Also: to outrun or outdistance.

The hybrid writer climbs their words to the very top.
There is no distance between the hybrid writer and their intention.
There is no shape to this intention.

5. intr.

a. To excel, to be superior, to have greater authority, be dominant. Obs.

b. it passes: it exceeds all ordinary limits; it surpasses everything it defies description. Obs.

Scientists want to replicate the cells of the chameleon. They want to replicate this process to eliminate reflection on appliances.

The nonbinary twenty-something finds that for some binary transgender people to pass, they aim to present cisgender. The nonbinary twenty-something finds that for the nonbinary twentysomething to pass, they cannot look cisgender. There are no ordinary limits for a nonbinary person. There are no limits for a binary person. There are limits for a person.

It passes, the hybrid writer thinks as they submit a poem to a poetry-only journal. It’s got all the elements of a poem, they argue. It can be described. It is within ordinary limits. It surpasses something.

II. To proceed, move forward, depart; to cause to do this.

6. intr.

a. Of a person, or a soul or spirit. to go to one’s spiritual destination. Chiefly with to in to pass to God, to pass to Heaven.

An army of ants eats a gecko in a time lapse video on Youtube. It takes one minute and thirty-six seconds for the animal to be reduced to its spinal cord. It is not apparent whether or not the gecko is dead when the ants begin their edit. It is not apparent whether or not the gecko has a spiritual destination. It is not apparent whether or not the gecko has a spirit.

The hybrid writer has been reduced to their spinal cord. They do not believe there is a spine to literature. They do not believe a canon is inherent. They do not believe in canon. They do not believe in inheritance.

The nonbinary twenty-something reads about bodies of two souls. They do not necessarily feel they have a binary soul. They do not necessarily use the number two to describe their gender. They have yet to perfect the act of camouflage because they can’t decide if they want to be the lizard or the rock. They wonder if God could have stopped at Adam, if the garden could be a solitary inhabitance. There are so many spirits in a garden, they think. The lizards, the birds, the ants.


A full body photograph of the author, Jennie Frost. They are standing on a street median holding a rainbow-painted sign reading "Queerer then a three dollar bill." They're wearing a yellow shirt and jean shorts, and have shoulder-length light brown hair loose under a black baseball cap. With their hand on their hip, they're looking off into the distance, or possibly away from the camera.JENNIE FROST is a poet from Maryville, TN. They are an MFA candidate at the University of Mississippi and former writer-in-residence at Sundress Academy for the Arts. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Normal School, Crab Fat, Border Crossing, The Fourth River, Rogue Agent, Stirring, and more. They are a dedicated member of the LGBTQ+ community and a human rights activist focusing on sexual assault prevention.


This piece is part of a series about the unique experiences in the literary world outside of the binary. As VIDA expands The VIDA Count to include marginalized genders that may not fit neatly into boxes, this series encourages writers to refuse to let our stories be left out as we fight against cispatriarchal discrimination and erasure and imagine what gender equity looks like for us.