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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
29 May 2023

We are touched and encouraged to see an overwhelming response from writers from the Sino diaspora as well as BIPOC creators in various parts of the world. And such diverse and daring takes of wuxia and xianxia, from contemporary to the far reaches of space!
By: L Chan
The air was redolent with machine oil; rich and unctuous, and synthesised alcohol, sharper than a knife on the tongue.
“Leaping Crane don’t want me to tell you this,” Poppy continued, “but I’m the most dangerous thing in the West. We’ll get you to your brother safe before you know it.”
Many eons ago, when the first dawn broke over the newborn mortal world, the children of the Heavenly Realm assembled at the Golden Sky Palace.
Winter storm: lightning flashes old ghosts on my blade.
transplanted from your temple and missing the persimmons in bloom
immigrant daughters dodge sharp barbs thrown in ambush 十面埋伏 from all directions
Many trans and marginalised people in our world can do the exact same things that everyone else has done to overcome challenges and find happiness, only for others to come in and do what they want as Ren Woxing did, and probably, when asked why, they would simply say Xiang Wentian: to ask the heavens. And perhaps we the readers, who are told this story from Linghu Chong’s point of view, should do more to question the actions of people before blindly following along to cause harm.
Before the Occupation, righteousness might have meant taking overt stands against the distant invaders of their ancestral homelands through donating money, labour, or expertise to Chinese wartime efforts. Yet during the Occupation, such behaviour would get one killed or suspected of treason; one might find it better to remain discreet and fade into the background, or leave for safer shores. Could one uphold justice and righteousness quietly, subtly, and effectively within such a world of harshness and deprivation?
Issue 22 May 2023
Issue 15 May 2023
Issue 8 May 2023
Issue 1 May 2023
Issue 24 Apr 2023
Issue 17 Apr 2023
Issue 10 Apr 2023
Issue 3 Apr 2023
Issue 27 Mar 2023
Issue 20 Mar 2023
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