Was It My Short Hair?

Right now I am struggling to figure out why that man assumed I was a dyke. I’m allowed to use that word - I’m not straight. But he was not allowed to assume.

Saturday morning. Two strangers sitting at adjacent tables. I am in black yoga pants and a gray sweat shirt. My femme power tattoo is not showing, neither is my Rebel Alliance necklace. I have an engagement ring on - given to me by my male partner. 

I’m not wearing any of my “Proud to be Queer” stickers or clothing, nothing on me is rainbow colored. None of my belongings are obviously “gay.” 

But he felt it his right - no, his duty - to deliver a message from the God of his fucked up understanding.

With tears streaming down his face he shouted,

“God sees your rotting soul,

He weeps for the love he has for you that

You’ve thrown away.”

With a snarl on his lips and spit flying so it spotted my glasses, he spat,

“You disgust me.

You are not a child of God.

You belong to the devil now.

Stop your wicked way with women.”

Then he got up and left, saying as he walked away,

“My purpose here is done.”

Was it my short hair?


Richmond, VA

Second Grade Salt

If I were to describe my general outlook on life…it would be the exact moment when a cucumber has completely disintegrated in its sauna of vinegar. I am sure your inquisitive mind must be pondering what is the source of my contrite conclusion. I believe my salty and bitter bulb illuminated at some point during second grade.

As an only child with the amount of friends equivalent to the amount of lunar eclipses, I sought satisfaction through the approval of teachers and decent grades. Of course adding this to my abundance of melanin in my skin, and “hand-me-down” clothing I was in no doubt at the apex of popularity in my class. At this point in time my teacher didn’t adhere to my model citizen persona which not only scramble my psyche, but also put a target on my back with my fellow peers. Let’s call this woman Mrs. R. just for confidentiality reasons. She had an obsession with scented Mr. Sketch markers which could ameliorate any horrendous day. During recess everyone was allowed to either go outside to play or to stay inside and use the art supply cabinet to demonstrate their creative capabilities. Usually at this time I would simply congregate as many science related books I could find and hide under the jungle gym to absorb as much of the text I could handle. Little to my knowledge two of my classmates had the propensity to collect as many of the markers as possible and place them inside of my backpack. Upon the completion of their deed they decided to divulge the location of the markers to Mrs. R.

I was admonished, chastised, rebuked with total abhorrence. I became a pariah to prepubescent piranhas. This became my catalyst for becoming a sarcastic member of society.


Mechanicsville, Va

My favorite book series as a child was A Series Of Unfortunate Events. I graduated from Virginia Tech this year. I am so excited to pay off my loans.

Zig-Zaw Puzzle Called Life

Life, all say. is like a jigsaw puzzle
To piece it together, we endlessly wrestle
It is composed of many intricate pieces,
All the best laid plans may break in to pieces

I meticulously arrange and rearrange,
Did I solve the puzzle, or it is just a mirage,
Undaunted, I redo them with patience and courage,
But hurricanes of life disarrange them in rage. 

Even if I manage to withstand gales and blizzards,
Waiting to back-stab are witches and wizards,
Crawling and creeping are snakes, rats and lizards,
Wagging tongues to lacerate the soul like scissors.

Some pieces of life are missing or got destroyed,
But those pieces are essential to fill up the void,
Raped by fate, I can't help but get annoyed,
Unsolved puzzle of life will surely make me a paranoid.

© K.Radhakrishnan



Poet K.Radhakrishnan lives in Bhopal city, India. He is a underwriter by profession and worked as a senior level executive in NEWINDIA ASSURANCE, India's largest General Insurance Company till his retirement. He has co-authored three insurance text books for NATIONAL COUNCIL OF EDUCATION, TRAINING AND RESEARCH(NCERT), INDIA. He has a passion for writing poetry which he pursued after retirement from his job.

My Body

My body is so much more than for your pleasure, your momentary release of ecstasy and enjoyment. 

My body encompasses so much more than my sexual organs. It’s not just something for you to fill, use, and discard. 

My body holds a brain – full of thoughts, knowledge, and dreams. 

My body contains my eyes, which allow me to see the world. A vivid sunset, full of pinks and purples; the kind act of a stranger; words on a page that transport me to a different place, allowing me to escape, if only for a moment. Eyes that often fill with tears from what you did. Tears that my dog licks softly off my face, assuring me that I’ll be okay. 

My body has two arms that allow me to wrap another being in a warm embrace. Arms that have sunk 3-pointers on a basketball court. 

My body contains my fingers, perhaps my most precious extremity. They have played preludes on my family’s piano and penned countless letters, poems, articles, and stories. 

My body contains my legs. Legs that have climbed to the top of mountains, skied down black diamond slopes, completed a 5K race, and walked around 11 different states. 

Most of all, my body contains my voice. A voice that screams, “NO MORE!”


Richmond, VA

Aspiring counselor. Advocate for sexual assault survivors. Animal lover. Assumes of the role of wine drinker with a reading habit. Addict of peanut M&Ms.


I have tried too hard
Holding together the pieces of me that desperately want to fall down in agony
Crawling past me, like a snail, mocking

The wells have dried
And I gaze down the dark abyss to see
My broken reflection, shimmering, like a gleam of hope

Heartbreaks are now routine
Like a cup of tea
I want to cry, but then I enjoy, thinking about sun storms and moon dances

The readings of the leaf imitate my brokenness
I swirl them to behold
An unbroken me.



An architect urban planner by profession and a poet by passion. Been published in several national and international anthologies and online poetry sites. Travelling is another passion I frequently indulge in.

Waking Up with Sam

 It is chilly in the room as I open my eyes. My nose feels cold as it sticks out of the covers. I feel his warmth beside me as I turn to the left and rest my head against him. He purrs in his sleep and inches closer to my face. I don't want to get up. Can't I just lie here awhile longer? The alarm goes off and the annoying sound pulls me out of bed, toward the TV table across the room to shut it off. It is time to begin my day. I do my salute to the sunrise, arms raised over my head, like Ruth Gordon in the movie "Harold and Maude." Then I sit back down on the sleeping bag covering the bed. Sam comes over and sits beside me. He nibbles on my fingers. His wise green eyes look in to mine, as his black fur blends in with the half-light in the room. He is waiting for me to lie back down for our final cuddle before breakfast.

I carefully descend the second story stairs to my kitchen, looking for my cold cup of Folgers's coffee in the refrigerator. I take a sip and go to pour Grain Free dry food for Sam in his bowl. The pungent smell of cat food mixes with the dark smell of coffee. If I am lucky Sam will eat his expensive food. He has a sensitive stomach and I am trying too be helpful, but I don't think he sees it that way. As I drop his bowl upstairs in the bedroom, he looks at me out of the corner of his eyes. "Really? Where is the good stuff?" he seems to say. I talk to him out loud, "This food is better for you." He meows. His cat voice is raspy. He turns his back on his healthy food. I give in and go downstairs again for Meow Mix. "Ok then. Here you are." He looks up as if to say, "Thank you." He eats his breakfast and I drink my coffee. We all have our habits and this one is ours. We have done this ritual for seventeen years so far. As with all good relationships, I want more time to enjoy each other.


Richmond, VA

I am a retired teacher and longtime Richmond resident.


there exists in me a
potent force charged with a

terrible beauty like
a loving leather crop it

threatens to overcome
screams you are alive it

wants to carry me
to a place beyond my

uninitiated grasp
like a foggy night or

pretty precipice —you know you want to
it beckons

have you ever fallen on your knees
before beauty,
for love,

in grief,
for forgiveness?

it’s like that.


San Miguel de Allende, Mexico


X Marks the...

The candle burns low. It’s one of those short and squat ones, just hitting the peddler’s market a moon ago and branded as “longer-lasting.” She glares at it, it sputters vindictively back and threatens to go out like five of its brethren scattered around the floor of the tent. They look so much like biscuits she’s half-tempted to pass them out as extra rations to her grumbling troops. She huffs a sigh and leans her elbows onto the wooden table, resting her chin against the dovetail of her fingers. The map spread out in front of her is hefty, ambitiously trying to achieve the actual size of land they were scrabbling over. It’s not difficult. She’s almost certain there are nobles with estates larger than this scrap of no-man’s land. Her eyes flit to her camp, marked by a shiny riverstone she found a fortnight ago, resting at the feet of a hill. She drags her eyes across terrain marked, as smooth (smoother than her captaincy, at least), curving as the bend of a river comes into view and snagging at the next checkpoint, a stretch of woods. It’s the traditional path to trek through; the enemy camp is based right past it, sheltered under a short precipice. Several crimson X's had been scribbled on the forest by her predecessors. After all, X marks the spot, and nobody had been able to go past that. She picks up her ballpoint pen and rolls it between two fingers, watching the weak light hit the blade-like curve of its side, before drawing in her own X. Deed done, she closes her eyes and leans back. The candle goes out.

She takes deep breathes, and her arms tremble from how forceful she’s crushing the edges of the table. The rough planks dig into her palms, almost breaking skin, and the marks on her hands pulse in lieu with her heartbeat. She’s staring down at the map, and her vision blurs. Not from tears, she’s still in shock from losing half her warriors in one vicious, one-sided battle, but from the blood dripping from a cut on her forehead. And suddenly, a deep rage rose up in her, and with it comes the inexplicable urge to rip up the cursed thing in front of her. She whips her her helmet off the table with one violent sweep of her arm, and it smashes into the haphazard pile of bloodied armor near her feet. A squeak answers the resulting clang, and she hears footsteps— probably belonging to some poor green-eared soldier tasked to seek her out—scuttle away from the flap of her tent. X marks the error. She’s a fool. An entire history of failure is laid out in front of her, and she blindly follows the footsteps leading her off a cliff. Wait. Off a cliff… She slowly straightens. The plan crawling out of her mind barely has a shape, and is most likely insane, but this whole battle is insane. She picks up the pen.

The campaign ran for three years, five months of which had been under her leadership. She is the first to come back to the kingdom with something other than the death toll weighing down her head. She only bows her head to receive Knighthood in an extravagant ceremony. She has succeeded.



Shunmel Syau is a seventeen-year-old writer from California. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Paper Swans Press, Liminality, and Star 82 Review, among others, and has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She is the co-founder and editor-in-chief at Shallow Oceans (https://shallowoceans.wordpress.com/), a nonfiction reader at BioLiterary, and the social media manager at Moledro.

Acing My Test

I could only ever accept your hand
on my waist
as an act of love.

I could never turn my light
in my mind
as your affections grant me different sustenance.

So, keep your hand
on my waist
and do not force my love.

I will see only you
and say “yes,”
and your affections will grant me sustenance.

You are not at fault,
nor am I,
do not force my love.

When your hand rests
on my waist
just wait for me.

I am not myself
for where I've been,
who I've found,
what I've seen,
my history.

I was born to be
a light,
but one that only illuminates
not your body
but your name.


Rockville, MD

I am a graduate student at American University pursuing a Masters Degree in Literature. My primary interests include Feminist Rhetoric and Queer Theory.

Ever Shifting Love

Beauty which is dead
struggles being prettier
than beauty about to die

Beauty of 'present' stays worried, 
waits to be buried

Last journey of love
when a face with a silent peace

invites madness, 
its maximized need
for another peace

Love unlike lovers, can't die
for the revival
of its 'lost nose'

Love's too incomplete
to complete its sins

Love which is always
the rebirth of a funeral

Love which is the
sound of rain on a tomb.



Born on 1988 in a small town of Silchar, Assam, India. Daipayan Nair is a freelance writer/columnist, poet, fiction writer and essayist. His works have been published in a lot of printed anthologies and online poetry journals like The Poetry Breakfast, The Galway Review, Tuck Magazine, 1947 Literary Journal, Duane's PoeTree Blog etc. He was recently awarded The Reuel International Poetry Prize 2016. His works have been translated in quite a few languages. He has also got a book to his name. His first collection of poems is named 'The Frost' which was released in 2015. His recent publication is a co-authored anthology of poems titled ‘THE VIRTUAL REALITY’ which was released at the end of 2016. Currently he is working on his upcoming project, a detailed poetry book on the new poetry form ‘Tideling' titled ‘Parallelism’ to be published by the end of 2017.