Size / / /

You call us shifters, but yoga 
never pulled me straight
mantras couldn't (sri rama rama rameti) shape me to match
the movies comics paintings and those potions to turn me 
fair & lovely
just made me ill. 

You say I shifted, but you broke me
to fit. Now I write speak
dream in (your English is so good)
Such a gift no? Don't believe it
You think I (simply only) forgot? I'm dislocated
Agastya named me monstrous
You call me special
Ram cut my hands off
You ripped out my (paki paki toks like thees) tongue.

Now I sound invisible
to Ram (you)
I disagree slantwise
and smile smile, but I never learned
to stop fighting. Tamil falls broken (konjam konjam pesaren) 
from my tongue's torn roots
and I write speak dream in blood.


Also in this week's issue, you can read an interview with Shweta about this poem and its influences.




Shweta Narayan was born in India and has lived in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Scotland, and California. They feel kinship with shapeshifters and other liminal beings. Their short fiction and poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Mithila Review, Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana, We See a Different Frontier: A Postcolonial Speculative Fiction Anthology, An Alphabet of Embers: An Anthology of Unclassifiables, Lightspeed: Queers Destroy Fantasy, and Clockwork Phoenix 3, among others. Shweta was the Octavia Butler Memorial Scholarship recipient at Clarion 2007 and was shortlisted for the 2010 Nebula Awards.
Current Issue
26 Feb 2024

I can’t say any of this to the man next to me because he is wearing a tie
Language blasts through the malicious intentions and blows them to ash. Language rises triumphant over fangs and claws. Language, in other words, is presented as something more than a medium for communication. Language, regardless of how it is purposed, must be recognized as a weapon.
verb 4 [C] to constantly be at war, spill your blood and drink. to faint and revive yourself. to brag of your scars.
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