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—fingers opening up a corpse
—a girl crawling into her dead mother
—maggots + blackened decay
—a girl alone in the dark + newborn, dead
—umbilicus, blood, mud
—a sun-headed god wielding a flaming sword
—bithbenia, homeland, droughting
—swamps + farms vomiting black waters + forests falling like the twins of wan
—the sun splitting itself in four
—grand cities crumbling,
yulia, maanka, kalith,
like dreams, or clouds
—a lover with no face
—an army rising in your name +
an army rising against all that you are
—the downfall of the kalrr of bithoen

—look at all they’ve done
—the silence of the gods + the roar of betrayal
—the whetting of swords
—they banish me, and take my eyes, that i may not find the road back again. i will pray no more to the one hundred gods of bithbenia
—boots stomping dry earth
—a blind girl begging strangers to drag her to her mother’s grave, at the edge of the city
—senseless whispers, like flowing water
—mama, mama. how dare you let them go free? they burnt our home to the ground, mama, killed your sons, killed papa, took all we have. i will not even say what they did to me. am i not bleeding? has my husband not been murdered? have you not been called the witch of yulia, derawudin’s daughter? how dare you stay in your grave,
—why are you in my grave, unmoving?



[Editor’s Note: Publication of this poem was made possible by a gift from Betsy Aoki during our annual Kickstarter.]

Victor Forna is a Sierra Leonean writer based in his country’s capital Freetown. His short fiction and poetry have been published or are forthcoming in homes such as Fantasy Magazine, PodCastle, Lightspeed, Lolwe, and elsewhere. He is an alumnus of the 2022 AKO Caine Prize Writing Workshop. You can find him on Twitter @vforna12.
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
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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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