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I have stopped looking
for your face. Crow-black beak,
iridescent duck feathers, rough hide
of a whale—all this was beautiful
enough. You came to me
as an old man and I knew you
by your hands—they were soft
and cold as ash. And when you were
a woman, I heard the tremor in the way
you called for me. How could I explain
this to my sisters? A creature held
together by a name, and what kind
of husband is that? I was more
honest than a mirror, you said.


I imagined you once: sunlight
turning your hair to fox fur, red
freckles, neat white scars pulled taut
across a smile, bones that looked
like mine. This was my mistake.


After you are gone, I realize it is a freedom.
I collect all the mirrors in my house,
from the floor-length to the handheld wooden
one I love. I toss them in the pond, unbroken,
and watch as they slip below the glassy water.
Freedom, you once told me, brushing my wet hair
before dawn, is to go unseen
in a dark wood, to be a boat on a black sea,
a kite with no string, a bird
with no name at all.

Originally from Texas, Madeline Grigg is a queer poet with an MFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University. Her poetry has appeared in Nimrod, Barely South Review, Dream Pop Press, and elsewhere. Check out more of her work at
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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