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Red cheeked
the breeze tickles her back
soft as a careless whisper.
Her mouth is caramelised fig and salt tang
and she wears seaweed in her hair.
From the shore the waves roar, weaponised teal, flashing bright
and the sky is purple haze
(as speckled as her nails, buried in the sand
fingertips deep in the cool moistness of the earth.)
She communes with the crabs, albino and soft shelled
as they scuttle into sand-tubes
and hide amongst the spinifex.
As the tide recedes she pries out pippis and splits them
sucking out juices with her scaled tongue
and hurling their smoked shells back into the sea.

And she waits.

The pregnant moon rises soft
and the world is still
for three heartbeats (one two)
(three). Then
her lover comes (ethereal as a spirit)
and the waters roil, waves gouging.
When her lover comes (dusk bathed, storm-woman)
the crabs flee deep into the dunes and
as finally
she steps silent from the sky onto sand
she licks the salt from the hollow of her throat
smiles through red lips
and kisses the sparrows in her hair.

Hester J. Rook is a Rhysling Award and Australian Shadows Award shortlisted poet and co-editor of Twisted Moon Magazine.  They are often found salt-scrunched on beaches, reading arcane tales and losing the moon in mugs of tea. Find Hester on Twitter @hesterjrook and read more poems and fiction 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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