the universe was never as cruel as the moment it woke me up

 

by Eli Rooke

 

The cosmos forged me a new body

and I was finally made of stardust.

Constellations traced along my scars,

and the sun warmed me to my bones.

The galaxy embraced me, and it was love.

I held myself, and it was love.

 

The sky turned dark, as stars

suddenly fell from their places.

I became a shooting star,

and I was falling.

I was burning.

 

I held and clutched

at the warmth still blessed to my skin.

But in a moment of burning ash, I was awake.

I was back in skin, stretched tight over my soul

and back in breaths, caught in cages.

My body was cold.

 

–  The universe was never as cruel as the moment it woke me up.

 

About Eli Rooke:

Eli Rooke is a non-binary entity who enjoys writing queer stories, with a particular focus on trans journeys and experiences. They can usually be found playing god with original worlds and characters. Eli has a passion for collaborative storytelling, and believes the best stories are the ones created with others.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

dead butterfly in my belly

 

by Manaswi Dawadi Rimal

I was waiting for love,

just like they said.

My tears in his handkerchief,

his tears in my letters.

His smile in the tea I made,

my smile in his essence.

Our breaths fighting with each other,

against our locked lips,

like the rivers flowing through mountains.

 

But I felt the butterflies in my stomach
when her jhumka communicated with my shirt.

The butterflies were flying inside,

when my ear heard the sound of her walk.

Her walk rhyming with her ghungru.

 

I felt the rainbow in my soul,
when her hair was fighting with that air.

Even when her voice was sharp like a chisel,
I felt like fitting into that groove.

 

When her Saree laughed with the tune of classic,

That’s when I had butterflies.

Her kajal falling through her ocean, in the form of tears.

Nothing was more magical,

like pearls turned into grey.

They were more precious than her tears.

 

And no, it was not just tea.
It was the whiskey,

the rum,
the cocaine,

running through my blood
in the form of her reminiscence,

even when she was not around.

 

What do I do now?
Neither can I tell her,

nor can I leave him.

They said, ‘love is only for HIM,’
waiting for him on the white horse.

 

They said, ‘love is only for HIM,’

running towards me from the mustard field.

 

They said, ‘love is only for HIM,’

giving me his hand on the train or a bus.

 

They said, ‘love is only for HIM’

while he unbuttons my shirt and I submit myself.

 

But what if I want it to be her?

 

What if I run away with her on the horse,

in the plane,

in the mustard field,

riding in the train?

 

Why is it okay to do these things with him,

but not okay with her?

 

What if I want to unravel myself to her, not him?

 

The butterflies inside me have turned back into caterpillars and died,

with no hopes of being butterflies ever again, and so have I.

 

About Manaswi Dawadi Rimal:
Manaswi is a writer, adventure seeker, travel enthusiast. She is a foodie and happy go-lucky person who worked as a Bartender and Barista. She is doing her degree in Engineering and is involved in various clubs, volunteering and events.

Photo by Gursimrat Ganda on Unsplash

a year gone by

 

By Syed Saif Uddin

A year where norms were left in tatters, of selfish delights and our worst traits on full display
Scarcity and misery unleashed like a hell hound, our demons did come out to play
The year humanity cowered in a silent collective, forgoing their divine rectitude
Kindness extinguished, families bereft of kin, and politicians even more so of their moral fortitude

A year with that endless soup kitchen line and millions of souls having to live off the welfare dime
Going through a year without breaking; the year human connection was deemed a crime
Walking the desolate streets in a city teeming with millions, not a soul to be found
Families hunkered down and front-line warriors having to steel their hearts, with so many corpses around

Even washed with grief with a mind going hollow, there was hope, a sliver still
Hope of human ingenuity and spark that could mount up and climb this steep hill
A year of solitary confinement, where keeping your distance was the primary refrain
A year of loss, a year of pain, and a thousand sorrows my heart couldn’t contain

Our nature of being social creatures oft-cited in the columns of opinion pieces far and wide
Oh the calamity that befell us when from the wretched disease, there was no corner left to hide
With invisible fences going up, tearing apart familial connections was hard to swallow
Technology did alleviate disconnection, but to tell a child to socialise online did seem a bit shallow

Hope is resilient and there is light at the end of this proverbial tunnel, no matter how dark
If legends are to be believed, humanity did survive a planetary flood in a wooden ark
Myths need not come into play for our hopes and heads to be held high
We have gotten through trying times, good has always prevailed, even when the end was nigh

A year of hellish misery, solitary suffering; when men cried and the nightingales forgot how to sing
Oft-forgotten is our innate resilience; we shall fight, from the streets of Morocco to Beijing
A year of pain; what was lost shall be found, and we shall clear this dark mist
Like tendrils we shall climb; here’s to a new year of growth, we must still persist

One can imagine what the world will look like when we can re-join as one, once again
If we only realise what can be achieved through cooperation, what we can attain

 

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

a sensation of him

Author: Rory Sorenson

*

Teach me your secret so I can see

the way you listen to your world.

Can I give you something broken?

Would you fix it

or remake it

or just let me be?

*

We spoke once in a dream you had

I forgot what you said when I asked you to

give me a truth.

I kissed the question

to your hand,

and held its echo to my ear.

*

You should know

I think

A part of you

will always be inside me.

(Or maybe me in you).

*

Describe your favourite sound to me.

And why it looks that way.

I found a story for you to whisper,

or roar,

or both.

Just keep it hidden in your lungs.

*

Because salvation found me early,

—being baptised by your tongue—

you must carry my misdeeds from now.

But you will be my burden

when I am

fluent in speaking you.

*

I’ll let you close enough

to love me if you promise that

it’s only pretend.

And you can leave

now please.

*

Take my feet

into your hands,

and press me to the ground.

When it storms, I

smell you in the rain.

(Have you ever tasted lightning?)

It reminds me of your scent

when we first met for the last time.

*

I’d missed you for eternity

when I heard you hiding moments

in tomorrow.

You sing in your sleep

sometimes

when you think no one can hear your breath.

*

Let me act like

this is our final night together.

I’ll return.

Promise.

Just give me something for my journey,

so I can hold on to my home—

Your calloused hand.

Before I go,

I’ll leave you with

the map your eyes traced

on my skin.

You could find your way to me.

Or not.

*

When I’ve waited forever to feel you

Beautiful Man,

what’s a few more moments apart?

*

Featured image courtesy of Mona Khaleghi via Unsplash

burning home

Author: Girish Gupta 

Featured image by Jen Theodore, courtesy of Unsplash

CW: this poem includes references to self-harm and suicide. 

I see these walls burn,

as the heat scorches through my skin

and I wonder to myself,

is this the hottest it could have been?

 

A flame catches in my sleeve

as I scream and scream and scream

A glass shatters on the floor,

all the pain turns me green

 

I can feel the loss of breath

as I starve to survive

I remember all my laughter

but pain has been my life

 

I remember the days I’d fly

high above the ground

They’d look at me and wonder,

who is that so proud?

 

And I feel me lose myself

as I dwell on fears and worries

But what really slows me down

are all these worldly hurries

 

I ponder and decide

to put the fire out

despite the scars it’s given me

Indeed, my scars are loud

 

And I inhale and gulp the heat

as I stand here, just me

Without bells or whistles or glitter

this is the prettiest I can be

 

I know just in this moment

why I gave up the chance to fly

And I know how to just walk past

all the times I’m asked ‘why?’

 

I’ve just got to be me,

that is my deepest desire

Yet the lack of this is why

I have lit my house on fire.