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they come with their whole selves blown open,
staggering from the sea on new-cut legs, skin

like a peeled grape, raw and weeping. hands
already outstretched, itching to touch: trash

cans and beach chairs, tire treads, the skillet
heat of black asphalt. everything wild,

everything new, miracle of air and yawning
horizon. in my ugliest heart i hate them,

their kelp hair and sharp little teeth, their love
for this sand and its every jumping flea.

poor frail fish-girls, in need of some kind stranger
to wrap towels around their nakedness, feed them

on fruit and freshwater and slice the webbing
between their fingers. it won’t be me. i learned

alone, coughed up on the shore to teach my own
self about rent and shoes and loading a bus pass,

about sales tax and gasoline, about keeping
my head down and guarding my smiles. like a child

i chose this world, its cities and their bird-shit
sidewalks, its concrete highways with unchanging

views. at night i dangle my feet from the fire escape
to watch streetlights flash against the jewels

of my toenails, my ten great victories,
hard fought, dearly won. i do not think about

the ocean. overhead the moon hangs in a thick
dark void, hauling a tide i can no longer feel.



Maria Zoccola is a queer Southern writer with deep roots in the Mississippi Delta. Read her in Fantasy Magazine, DreamForge, The Massachusetts Review, Colorado Review, Spillway, Fence, and elsewhere.
Current Issue
16 May 2022

we are whispered into this new land, this old land, whispered anew
i tuck myselves under coffin nails. and then i am the sun like a nairobi fly, burning spine and skin.
The last deer in heaven flees, and Sestu pursues.
Issue 9 May 2022
Podcast: 9 May Poetry 
Issue 2 May 2022
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Strange Horizons
28 Feb 2022
We would like stories that are joyous, horrific, hopeful, despondent, powerful and subtle. Write something that will take our breath away, make us yell and cry. Write unapologetically in your local patois and basilects in space; make references to local events and memes to your heart’s content. Write something that makes you laugh and cry. Indulge in all the hallmarks of your heritage that you find yourself yearning for in speculative literature, but know that we will not judge you based on your authenticity as a Southeast Asian. 
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