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For Tara Cloud Clark

it is your nose i notice first—you demon, you delicacy!—
(I’m something of a collector: eldritch artifacts, all that
your nose, a right wonder for my wunderkammer)
robustly moist, grave-soil-black, with that reciprocating twitch
for every trash pile, blossom’s bravado, bottom’s innuendo
a flagrant organ in full swoon, flaunting no preference
sensitive to the rancid, ecstatic at tenderness
your nostrils flaring/folding/flaring with tidal nuance
keen to sniff each invisible stitch of meaning:
whether categorical, imaginary, or subliminally intended

secondly—you stunner, you monster!—
it is your quills I clap eyes on—fine-frilled, outstanding!
deimatic display of sensitive silver, a collar
standing at dinosaurian attention
this is not your average were-hair, my bugbear
more like what a poet plucks for her pen, never mind your quivering
good thing she’s easily distractible, all dreamy at the moon
(your foe, your sorrow)
good thing she stopped humming out your name, greedy for attention
no idea you stood ready to behead her with your scimitar paw
she might have taken her handful right there
abandoned you, bare and bleeding, to jot down a verse
what then would be left for my necklace?

I save your scarlet heart for last—you lonebeast, lunewolf!—
your ardent heart: a top-shelf item, prize of my collection
we'll preserve it in a reliquary, gold-gilt, heart-shaped
a crystal windowpane winking glimpses at incarnadined flame:
your jewel, your red gem, molten and uncertain
surely you were hunted for this, once and again
surely they came after you with knives—steel and teeth by starlight
surely you were envied and hunted, harried and coveted
till you fled, scarred, scored, starving for your pack
obscuring your bright heart, silver quills, seeking nose
in domestic drudgery, cagey silences, lest you become
one more metaphor mounted on a wall,
trod upon as carpet, secreted in a cabinet,
turned into an instrument of poetry.

C. S. E. Cooney won the World Fantasy Award for Bone Swans in 2016 and the Rhysling Award for her poem "The Sea King's Second Bride" in 2011. Her collection Dark Breakers comes out from Mythic Delirium in February 2022, and her novel Saint Death’s Daughter two months later from Solaris.
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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