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When we step into the cottage
we know what we are getting into

Didn't our mother tell us not to talk to strangers?

but we enter anyway
into the smell of iron.

We have been walking in the woods all day—
we have been walking in the wood since we were born
and now we must squeeze our soul into the shape of four walls, a roof
where it is small and dark, like the belly of an animal.

The bed is waiting, but the fire comes first.

"Take off your cloak, my dear, and lay it in the fire
                                    you won’t need it anymore."

We lay the red hood on the flames and watch them eat it up
                                    they love it so
devouring the tender fibers.

We peel away all of our layers and consign them to the fire
until the ashes of cotton underpants mix
with the ashes of blissful ignorance
until we are all that is left.

Now we are truly afraid, when the darkness touches our nakedness
and we see ourselves reflected in the shadows
and it terrifies us.

And that is why
when the voice calls from the bed
                                   "Come get into bed with me."
we go like docile lambs

to the smell of blood
and the gleam of eyes
where a grimace of big teeth
promises to teach us to go disguised
in other people's skins.

Charis lives with her cat, Mithril, in a room full of books and craft supplies. She makes damn fine cakes. Her website is
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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