A Fond Farewell

Greetings Lovelies,

Life has sort of been a whirlwind as of late. Lots of changes happening in my life all at once. The mundane world is calling… actually, it’s screaming my name in my ear every night, just as I’m trying to go to sleep. It’s sort of making my head spin. But, it’s not a bad thing. The only constant in the universe is change.

So, after some thought and a lot of cursing (and maybe a few tears), I have decided that it’s time to retire Burning Muse. 

Thank you to everyone — editors, readers, friends, and fellow writers — who have made this project so special to me. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the Editor of Burning Muse.

When I first started this project, it was just a personal re-blog blog that a couple of my tumblr friends followed… probably out of kindness. And most of the original followers are still with us (tho some are not).

I’m not typically the type of person who brags. Sometimes I have a tendency to downplay the things that I take pride in when it comes to any personal bragging rights.

I can say with no reservations that I am PROUD of what I (and the lovely staff of past and present) have accomplished in terms of exposing the community to what we feel is great writing.

I hope that we’ve been able to serve you. I hope that you have benefitted from the existence of this blog.

I love you all. Always and forever. Thank you for letting me be a part of your world.

- Noelle 



staff note: deep breath. Long, satisfying sigh.


Standing backstage, we can hear the pit orchestra start to play the duet the whole cast loves. As the main characters on the stage start to sing sweetly to each other, you glance over at me for a second. When I meet your gaze you decide to take that as a cue to start mouthing words to me. My mind starts to race: “What? What the hell am I supposed to do? Why is he noticing me now? Does my makeup look okay? Oh, shit I have stage makeup on. I look like a clown.” But even as I’m freaking the hell out, I reach my gloved hand out to you daintily. I remind myself that you’re acting; all of the drama kids do it. So I begin to act too by putting on my best loving expression, which isn’t very difficult to muster up when I’m with you. You reach out and interlock your fingers with mine while you walk towards me, coming closer and closer. My breath stops, my heart pounds and my stomach flips. You draw so near to me that our lips are probably separated by an inch of air. Just thinking about it sends a shock through my body- from my toes to my head- frying my brain and leaving me dumbfounded. We are so close now that I can’t even tell if you’re singing anymore. All I can see are your eyes- lit up and full of emotion, shimmering as they reflect the light coming from on-stage. You don’t giggle or break eye contact. No. You just keep your hand clasped with mine and stay in character. I feel electrified, my body quivers, and all I want is to get even closer. I want to drown in your scent and snuggle into the safety of your arms, but for now I will have to settle for this. This luxurious moment when “you and I” seems possible.



staff note: ohh yess!


Tied. Face down. Blindfold.

Spread wide. Bound. Held in place.

Exposed. Vulnerable.

The knowledge that for this moment you are there as mine. To use as and when I chose.

You wait. It is all you can do.

Sounds are your only comfort. The rapid dull thump of your pulse in your ear. Each draw of breath seeming to resonate loud out into the room.

You are aware of other movements around the room.

Sound of wine being poured. A page being turned.

Other sounds harder to discern. Your mind racing as to what they portend.

Perhaps a soft hand caressing you, fingers coming away soaked and scented.

Perhaps a sharp crack of a palm against your skin, the delicious bite chasing your pulse ever quicker.

Perhaps nothing except more waiting, more longing.

Until that first touch, you are left just with spiralling thoughts.

Am I watching. Am I touching myself. Am I reading a book and paying you no attention.

And then the first touch. Harsh fingers. Pulling you open.

A rough thrust then. Deep. Hard. Fast. And again. And again. A violent moment. A storm of sensations which hurtles down upon you.

And then just as suddenly there is nothing. The room is silent.

And you are left with nothing except that sting of being taken.

The sensation is a burning, shameful reminder you are there to be used. And with that a moment of conflict rises.

A mote of panic forms. You breathe. You let it go.

The decision, for now, is not yours. You have no responsibility in this moment.

And with that thought, the calmness returns.

To your body. To your mind.

Matching the room around you.

Only the steady drip and throb between your thighs belies the calm.

And so you wait for the next touch.

It is all you can do. Wait.

Patient. Thankful. Needy.


staff note: a small but powerful spell. This piece was mixed in a cauldron with all the right elements.


There was, for a while, an empty silence between them: a vacuum where words once were. It was then that Mrs. Peurdoux noticed Rulfo was exceptionally handsome, that the bones in his face were well-crafted, and had grown into their proper places. They carried a weight of a deep, dull sadness: his eyes were tired and careful — in anguish and at peace, he looked from his hands to the window, where seagulls could be seen circling in the fog. And then.

"I made love for the first time in two years," he said. Mrs. Peurdoux continued to watch him, briefly becoming involved with the steady movement in his fingers, which have been victims to nautical stress. They were of a grace only fishermen could attain. And underneath his skin was the laborious smell of the sea: at first overpowering, then calm, like waves succeeding a storm, like sinking stones.

"What was it like? As you remembered it?" 

"Better. Shadows swallowing shadows."

"Was — or is — this partner of importance to you?"

He reflected upon her question with a kind of patience for himself. He let it settle, let it burn out slowly over his mind. “— We went for a walk just after, late in the evening. We sat for a while on a bench just off the shore, under a low-hanging willow. I remember the shrub brushing over her shoulder, I remember watching her as she closed her eyes. I remember a love like that — it’s a love that eats up the world. And here I am, stepping into its cotton mouth.”



“Little girl, what is the difference between a girl and a woman?”

He asked me that question at the start of every day.

At least I think it was every day.

Not that I could even tell the time in my stone room with no clock or windows. Just a bed for sleep and a bucket for waste. He would empty it when it was full and bring me food when I was hungry. Sometimes he would and try act nice by starting conversation, but I had little to say.

At first, I tried desperately to answer His question. A man? A spouse? A job? Age? Children? I gave every answer I thought he would want. I just wanted to leave and go back to my family.

“Wrong. You must know that the answer, little girl. It will set you free. It is the only way through that door. I’ll ask again tomorrow.”

Why was he asking me this? At first, I thought he had some sick plan brainwash me and make me his woman. But it never happened. I now doubt the thought had even crossed his mind. After a while, I stopped trying to answer his question. He would ask and I would remain silent. That’s when the lessons began.

The lessons were torture. Literally. Whips, sticks, cuts, burns, electricity. Any way he could find to give me pain. I started to fight back. He seemed to enjoy it. He always kicked my ass, but I was getting better. Landed a few hits, and then more. It became routine. I had almost gotten used to it. Like I forgot that I was a hostage to a mad man with no idea to my purpose here. Did he have a plan?

“What is the difference between a girl and woman?” 

He was asking the question more and more now. During our meals, our lessons, our fights. It slowly became the only thing he ever said. It was driving me mad. I was done with it. I couldn’t take it anymore. I refused to stay here for another day. No more stone walls, no more lessons, no more torture, no more questions. And no more him.

I don’t know what his stupid answer is and I have long stopped caring. When He comes again, I will kill him or he will kill me. Either way…

I was standing in the middle of the room when he opened the door. The look on his face said he was not exactly surprised, but rather, curious about what I would do. I just stood there waiting for him. This time, he drew a knife and threw it on the ground between us. He looked at me.

“What is the difference between a girl and woman?”

I gave him no answer. Instead I took the knife and dove at him. He anticipated it and sidestepped. I turned and blocked his counterattack and stabbed at him, landing a strike at the right side of his chest. He stepped back, coughing, bringing a hand to growing stain on his shirt. I had him now. I moved and swept my leg across, taking his legs out from under him. I quickly pinned him on his back facing up with me looming over him. He was smiling. I looked at him and suddenly understood.

“What is the difference between a girl and a woman?” he asked.

“Blood.” I replied.

 And I slit his throat.



Staff Note: “My empty whiskey bottle smile.” Beautiful.


watching the curved course of time

the road unfolding then 

vanishing the mirror.

here, present and not correct

the broken footsteps past

unseen, paths revealed 

in morning light 

from roadside motel rooms

clouded by too many cigarettes

my empty whiskey bottle smile

your bare shouldered grin

up to no good

loving the taste of dust


together, alone.


072. The Moon

staff note: Oh my god. I say that in a good way. Oh my god. Bears repeating.


As a kid, she’d always see a face on the moon. You know, kind eyes and smiling lips, as if it was watching over her. It was soothing, safe. Leila had never been a regular child, when they usually fear the night, she’d be the one waiting for the sun to set, gaze lost on the wide dusking universe above her. It was her safe place. Where she could hide and let go of her deepest secrets. Her little peace of mind. She liked it even more when the wind would join the melody of the night birds keeping her company. Such a loud silence, perfect to calm her doubts. Smiling, she took her cellphone out.

"I see you." she typed, long fingers too familiar with the device.

Leila met Adam when they were 12, back in middle school. From the moment they laid eyes on each other, they knew. Soulmates. Not the romantic kind though, no. They could be twins, is what it really was. So naturally, life forced them to part ways. Adam being a foster kid, he had to move out before highschool even got in the way, balanced from one family to another. After that, they didn’t get to see each other often. The further apart they got, the deeper their hearts would sink.

And so it began.

His anchor was the same as hers. They almost immediately bonded over their love for the moon, which never failed to show up. It was Adam’s secret garden too. His only guiding light in his life, the only consistency in his existence. Before he met Leila. Every night, faithful to its path, it would hang high between the clouds. Adam’s foster parents of that time wouldn’t allow him much so he had to sneak out at twilight to meet up with Leila. So when the boy left, that’s how they could find each other again. They’d look up and know the other was watching, too. “You’re my moon” they’d say. And that would be enough. They knew what it meant. More than any I-love-yous they could exchange. It was theirs, hidden from the world’s eyes. They weren’t regular children, so naturally they didn’t grow into regular adults. And they didn’t care. They had each other, bound by their shinning moon.

Her cellphone vibrated, startling her lightly, and she looked down at the screen.

"I see you, too."

Wherever he was, they were together.


1. When we finally fall into bed together, I’d like to remind you to not mess with the shape of my scars; you will see them everywhere, marked upon the silkiness of the flesh, trailing up and down my spine, swiveling about my arms, dotting around my thighs. They will be in loads of colours; blue, purple, black, yellow. But they were all angry and sour, sometimes out of mad desire, sometimes out of the madness of depression. If you’re going to love me, learn to accept my scars, which twined in who I am and what I did in the past. My history.

2. Don’t expect me to be a ‘normal’ lover who takes you on long, romantic walks in mild twilight and was always prepared to send you a kiss goodnight before you close your eyes and your consciousness slips away between the sheets. I am needy. I cling and I cry and I am desperate, but at times I am detached. You will be spending many a night or day alone, I will need my privacy and it will take months - maybe years - for you to know me completely, as a sky with a full display of its constellations. But for now, please know that I appreciate and smile over every little thing you do for me.

3. As far as my insecurity goes, it stretches far higher than the horizon. I will need reasons, constant reasons as to why you keep me around. Is it for the sex? Are you just playing darts with my confidence? You will need to reassure me, and I will try as hard as ever to believe you. But it’s gonna be messy, it’s gonna be hard. I’m not the most confident and beautiful person around here, and I’m not a very fulfilling lover, but I will try. There will be dark bags under my eyes when I glance at you the morning after a fight, there will be stains of tears upon my bedsheets where you used to sleep, and I will always write you a Valentine’s card every year, even if it’s just plain paper saying ‘hello’ with a simple heart drawn around it. Simple hearts are lies, passion and fire is never simple.

4. I am a person full of mysteries. One night I will take you to the edge of my balcony, and point up to the stars above. We could tell anecdotes of our childhood, curled in each other’s arms, with a comfortable blanket between us covering our bodies entwining. There will absolutely be no second thoughts. Other nights, there will be. I am jealous and pining, I am in love with reckless folly but yet mortified by it. Most of my lovers before you have been exasperated by my constantly changing moods. For a melancholic person, I am a romanticist. Hold me before I crumble like a building on fire.

5. I give up easily, but I’ll never give up on you. I gave up upon lots of dreams, quitted many job applications, and drove down the road as the hours go by. I have no destination, I am a road winding on and on until the most absolute infinite. Loving me is quite a dangerous path, but I’ll keep you on my tracks if you’re able to keep up with me.

- 5 steps you need to follow before falling in love with me (via apollofastingdionysusdrunk)

(staff note: this one’s a keeper. Loved it!!!)


Another short story…

staff note: I know asking people on Tumblr to read something as long as this is a long shot. But it’s a damn good story.


Beauteous Mankind

‘Hello? Are you there? Is that Sean? All I can see is a chair. Can you hear me? It’s Brent. I’m sure he said ten thirty… Umm… hello? Oh well –’

‘Hi, Brent! Wait, I’m here! Here I am, sorry for making you wait. I just had to check the door, make sure I was alone. I don’t want to be overheard.’

‘Oh right, ok. Oh you’re – um, well, not quite what I expected.’

‘Is it the hot pants?’


‘Yeah, I know, they’re ridiculous. It’s the school uniform here though. I wish I could just put on a pair of sweatpants, but they were outlawed last year.’

‘I see.’


‘So… when I got your email I was a bit, um, confused. I wasn’t sure what to think really. I mean, it all seems so preposterous. I checked out what you said about my parents. They did move here about thirty-odd years ago, Mum confirmed it. She wouldn’t go into details about why though. She got really defensive and started questioning me about university choices until I left her alone. I don’t know what I want to study yet. I mean, I really like English and Drama, but I can’t see them paying for me to do those… Sorry I’m rambling aren’t I?’

‘It’s ok. I know it’s weird. Would you mind moving that light a little, I can’t see you properly.’

‘Oh, sorry, how’s this?’

‘It’s better – oh my God!’

‘Umm, yeah, I guess you know why I haven’t switched this thing off. When you came on my screen just now I knew I could believe you. I didn’t want to, even though the dates seem to match, and the bits of information I could find at the librapedia gave some clues, but I really don’t understand. Maybe I should just go, ignorance is bliss isn’t it? This is freaking me out, and I’ve got a paper due next week, I definitely ought to be writing that and not – ‘



‘It’s ok. I get it. I suppose I’m at the advantage though, since we don’t have the media smokescreen you guys have to put up with. I don’t know why they keep you in the dark but it’s ok for us to know what’s going on. You can’t deny our connection though. Under these frosted tips, I have your same mousy brown locks, and… let me rub this guyliner off… See, the same cerulean blues – they’re unmistakable. How else do you explain the fact we look alike?’

‘I know they outlawed cloning here… but that would be ridiculous!’

‘Not much more ridiculous than separating twins like this. Just because we’re different.’

‘Are we?’

‘Are you?’

‘Well, I mean, different how? I don’t really know. I mean, I’m sure there’s loads of things I like to do, but you don’t, Brent. I really like, um… soccer and, er – you know, hanging out with my mates, and my, umm, girlfriend.’

‘That sounds awesome.’

‘Yeah, sure, it’s great. I love it. Umm. How about you? How different can two young guys be? I mean, I know you look different, physically, with your tan and clearly you work-out… I mean, I’m not looking at you or anything, or saying anything that – I don’t know what I mean. I’m just – this is weird, isn’t it?’

‘Has anyone ever told you you talk a lot, Brent?’

‘Oh yeah, it’s a nervous habit. I don’t mean to. I’m just – it’s… I don’t know what to say.’

‘Well how about I say something for a bit? And you just listen to me? Would that be ok? Then maybe you can tell me what your take on the situation is?’

‘Yeah, ok, let’s do that. I’ll just shut up and listen. Off you go then. I mean, I’ll try to keep myself together while you –‘

‘Brent? Shhh. You can move back out of the light now if you’d like, while I talk. You don’t look comfortable in the glare. I bet you’re not used to this kind of attention, am I right? You prefer to be a wall flower, hang back and not get noticed? I bet that’s the case because I’m like that too. Here’s what I think: when they split us up, they got it wrong.’

‘Wrong? What do you mean? I don’t –‘

‘Shhh, just let me tell you a story and see what you think, ok?’


‘Right, well a few years ago I was getting ready for drag class. You probably don’t have that on the continent, but over here we do. It’s part of the new curriculum they brought in when the island was designated for the gays. I don’t know if you know that term, or the other one, homosexual? I’m not sure what they tell you lot. It means someone who likes another person of the same sex. And when I say ‘like’ I mean wants to have sex with, or fall in love with. Like a guy and a guy or a girl and a girl. Am I making sense?’

‘Umm, just keep talking. If I get confused I’ll ask. Just… talk.’

‘So I had this class. I’m getting changed. I must’ve been about 13, you know, the age when things start to change, and you get interested in, well, that’s the point isn’t it… Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. My school is all boys – all the schools here are segregated by sex. The gym’s really big, it has these open-plan locker rooms and showers too. There’s murals of famous historical people plastered all over the walls in the locker room. You wouldn’t know any of them, they won’t teach you about them in your schools. One of them is my Dad – well, my adopted Dad, one of them anyway. He used to be a diver when the island was part of the UK and Scotland. Getting undressed while his golden pecs and little Speedo-things are glaring down at me can feel a little awkward. It’s a bit off-putting, I won’t lie. So I’ve got my thong around my ankles, and I’m chatting to my friend, Paul. He’s naked, as are most of the class. As usual, his cock’s hard and – Sorry, have I shocked you?’

‘Umm, no. No. It’s… no. Go on.’

‘Ok, well. It was hardly a rarity for boners to be on display in the changing rooms. I mean, it’s not surprising. We were teenage boys, living in a world where the naked body was everywhere. I don’t know if they print the Guardian over there, but here you turn to page 3 and there’s a naked celebrity thrusting his crotch in your face every single day. Flick on the TVnet anytime, day or night, and you’ll probably catch a classic porn film, from way back when.’

‘Wow. I mean, um, that’s so weird. We don’t have anything like that here. They don’t even let you see that stuff on the internet, they have these parental controls.’

‘Before the separation it wasn’t like that I’m sure. So I’m going through the motions, getting my dress out of the locker, trying to find my platforms, when I get the feeling I’m being watched. Again, that’s nothing unusual here. There’s a strict look-but-don’t touch policy at the school though. The age of consent is still fifteen; we’re not perverts or anything. Anyway, Paul is prattling on about shaving his shins – though at his age I’ve no idea why, he had nothing but tufts of blond trying to sprout down there – and he stops mid-flow to just stare at my crotch, real brazenly, more than usual even for him.’

‘Oh, my.’

‘Well, even then I wasn’t exactly shy about what nature gave me. You’re my twin – you must know what I’m talking about… right?’

‘Oh, well, umm, I guess. Umm. That’s kind of… isn’t it?’

‘No, sure, you’re right – that’s none of my business, forget I said anything. So anyway he points at me. What’s up Sean? He says. Nothing, I shoot back. Quick witted, that’s me. Exactly, says Paul. I haven’t seen you get it up – he points at my limp dick – since we started at this school. So what? I snapped. Well, says Paul, I make a point of knowing what everyone’s looks like when it’s all hard like, for the old wank-bank you know?’

‘Wank-bank? I don’t get – oh right, yeah. I, umm… Go on.’

‘So I don’t know what to say to him. Because he’s right. I haven’t had an erection in the changing rooms. And you know, it took until Paul pointed it out for me to even realise. But as soon as he did I knew why with a clarity I’ve never experienced before. I just didn’t find it sexy – the place, the people, the pictures – and the men. I didn’t find the men, or the boys who were my peers, attractive. You understand what I mean? I’m on an island that’s been created specifically to provide a homosexual homeland and I can’t get excited by the constant ebb and flow of sex that pulsates in every inch of the nation. I didn’t know what to say to Paul. I pulled at my cock a couple of times, willing it to move, but it didn’t work. The thing is, I knew what would work…’


‘Well a few weeks earlier I’d been stood outside the girl’s school, waiting for Dad to finish a speaking engagement there. I found my eyes drawn to a group of lesbians walking along the footpath, holding hands. I was in my hot pants, of course, and the school t-shirt. It’s sleeveless and has the school’s name, St Fry’s, written in a rainbow on the crest. Three of the girls were in their uniform of combat pants and rugby tops. One of them had her top slung round her shoulders, with the sleeves tied loosely in front of her naked breasts. They’re as liberated at Toksvig’s Academy as they are at my place, you see. Are you following me?’


‘Good. I hadn’t really given girls much thought before then, we don’t mix much – we don’t have many shared interests. Anyway, as I watched this topless girl walking towards me I felt a stirring in my pants. I was stunned to find I’d thickened up down there! It wasn’t my first erection, but it was the first time I connected an image with the feeling that led to a hard-on. I tugged my man-bag across me to hide my crotch as the girls ambled past, oblivious. They hadn’t noticed me but I was afraid that my seedy secret was written across my face.’

‘That doesn’t sound so bad. I mean, was it bad?’

‘I don’t know exactly what it’s like where you are, but here you can’t be straight in a gay world. And that’s what I am, I’m sure of it. I had to do a bit of research – luckily I’ve got access to some unfiltered webpage links through my Dad’s position – and that’s also how I found out about you. I didn’t tell you did I? He’s only the fucking Queen of the island!’

‘He’s the Queen? I don’t understand. Umm, isn’t that a woman’s job?’

‘Usually. I think when the old guard moved out in the straight exodus there weren’t many politicians, or members of King Harry’s family of the gay persuasion remaining. When I was digging in the Daily Male archive I found this old piece that I think explains it. You see, when they were sorting out gay marriage in the old UK they had to pass a law that made sure if any future King married a man, they wouldn’t automatically become Queen… So the Founding Fairies, as they called themselves, got to stamp their own unique brand of humour on the new administration.’

‘I didn’t know any of this. We don’t hear anything about the UK, the old UK I mean. Well, we know that some babies, get selected to be sent there but no one ever talks about why. I suppose if all the gay people are over there they don’t feel the need to discuss it here.’

‘I’m not sure they are all over here.’

‘But – you said, I mean – what, why do you say that?’

‘Well, I’m here. The only straight on the island, at least as far as I know. It’s not like I can go around advertising the fact though. So if I’m a straight guy here, there’s a chance that there are gay guys over there, right? Maybe gay isn’t just in the genes like they think – I saw this old report that talked about nature versus nurture, and… I don’t know… But surely if that were the case there would be more anomalies like me out there… wouldn’t there?’

‘I suppose so.’

‘Can you tell me something, Brent?’

‘Umm, yeah, sure. I’ll – I’ll try.’

‘What is it like living in a world where you don’t have to hide who you are all the time? I’ve dreamt about it, but I can’t imagine what it’s like not to have to bite your tongue just to get along. I’ve had to suck far too many cocks in the interests of keeping up appearances – it doesn’t help when you’re the Queen’s son and have the attention of the media on you. If I didn’t try and maintain a façade of ordinariness, I’d, well, I don’t know what would happen. Would they lynch me? Deport me? I worry that I’d bring scandal on my Dad’s government, or that they’d reject me. Am I making any sense? Brent? Hey, Brent, are you still there? I can’t see you. Has the connection gone? Shit.’

‘No. I’m here. I’m… I, umm, well, the thing is I know exactly what you’re talking about. I don’t mean I understand – well I do, of course I do. I mean it’s not just that I sympathise – empathise – whatever. I get it because I have the exact same, or opposite, no, the same problem. I’m struggling, I’m sorry –‘

‘It’s ok, Brent. I’m not sure I’m following you. Just slow it down. Breathe.’

‘Ok. Ok. Umm. Right. I’ve never had to tell anyone this, and I didn’t even know what it was I was feeling. I mean, heck, I’m eighteen and it’s only now I realise what you’re talking about makes perfect sense. You were thirteen, you were lucky, or I guess not because you had to live with knowing but you couldn’t do anything about it… I don’t think you’re the only one. I think I know what happened to you, to us. They sent the wrong twin away. You see, I’m the gay one. I – I’m gay. Woah, that was hard. Now I can put a word on what I’m feeling everything is slotting into place. Oh my God, I’m so happy you found me, Sean.’

‘Wow, oh wow. I totally didn’t get that from you, but then I guess my Gaydar is maxed out when it’s on all day long. But you said you had a girlfriend… No, wait, I knew I didn’t believe you! Sorry, there’s me bleating on about how hard it is for me and you totally get it – of course you do. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to live like this too… I mean, you didn’t even know… Shit.’

‘Yeah, umm, it’s a biggie. I believe everything you’ve told me. Absolutely, no question. I’m just struggling with, you know, now what?’

‘I have no idea. I didn’t plan for anything past this Skype. I didn’t even know if you’d answer it.’

‘Umm, I saw this old film once, about twin sisters. They used to have fun pretending to be each other, getting the other into trouble. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could meet and switch lives? No, that’s crazy, I’d totally miss my parents and – Sean! Sean, what’s happening? Who’s there? Sean?’

‘Brent, go, get off the connection – break it – stop, get out of here, does my Dad know you’re – get off me – stop it – ‘

‘Sean! I can’t see you, where’ve you gone? Sean? Sean!’


A Paper Wren

staff note: I loved this.


I used to laugh at Icarus-
He reached too far, and fell;
But how can I, with moral ground,
Pretend that I know better?

I’ve reached across the globe, and back-
A search for missing letters;
To tell that world of what I’ve found
Would be to build a Rome, and burn it.

I could write for her, for her, for her-
I could die a thousand times at night;
But how could I, oh how could I
Ever think to share that light?

I craft my wings of moulded ink-
A vessel for my muddied soul;
To fly away, to her, to her,
I’d trade my voice, my world, and more.


staff note: This was so good.


I wonder how much of a difference it would make to loosen the bolts in the corners of my lips to set forth a flood from months of collective storms that have came and went within the deafening wails of our biggest silences.

Would it weaken the ground beneath your feet to see the fang-like curves of tidal waters that busts bows in the wake of your absence? I can feel the warm and soft contours of conversation grow thin and pale in the starved ideas of shared cushions and playing Jenga with stacks of DVDs on a Saturday night. The woven description of a kiss blindly felt for in the dark falls to ash against a parched mouth.

We’re living vicariously through unstable dreams wobbling upright on wooden stilts. We’re chewing on the gristle of simple sentences hanging on to hope that stifles me with a cough that expels black, acrid smoke. 

I’m growing weary of filling out crosswords with hints I can’t crack, and trying to accommodate for the missing pieces of jigsaws leaving unsightly spaces. 

I’m famished for all of the parts of you I can’t feel — all of the parts I can’t decrypt. 


staff note: Beautiful piece!


When I was born my grandmother cried because I wasn’t a boy

"My son’s life is ruined. He’s ruined."
"To top it off she’s so dark."
My cries were louder than hers. I was too eager to live.
An unwelcome troublemaker from birth

But that’s not where my story starts

A few hundred years ago, some men sailing on blue waters wound up on brown land
And they decided they’d walk on anything that wasn’t white

I remember scrubbing my face with a “formula” at age 12
3 tubes Fair and Lovely
2 tablespoon bleach
Countless years of colonialism shoved into my DNA
An old ancestral recipe

I’ve seen light-skinned become default beauty
I’ve seen makrani and bengali become an insult

Dad told me to wear a dupatta
Dad let me wear shorts on a different continent
Dad controls the length of my kameez

I remember being pushed around
My chachoo pinching all the fat he could find on me
"You’re so ugly"
Joke’s on him
I pissed on his bed when he was abusing the maid
I may not have a penis
But boy can I aim

My story started before ‘47
Even before the start of that century
I was born in rebellion
They called it mutinous
But we bathed in the independence of our own blood
I was born in that revolution
I hear the sword clashes every day

I have been denounced for colour
and country

One time I flew a kite in New York
When it reached as high as I could take it
I let it go
I will not hold on to limits

I will let my hair remain dark
I will not buy lenses of a lighter shade
I will not paint my skin white
Brown is too fucking majestic to erase

I was born on the land of the poor
And I will not fool myself with the luxury of diaspora
I was born on the Earth of men
And I will not die with the gates of misogyny open

my name is Sana
and if you wept when I was a child

you will quiver when I am a woman


The Killing Of Carl

Staff Note: This is absolutely heartwrenching. Stunning work.


"I only wait now.
I’ve held my breath for so long
I wonder if I even remember
what it means…to breathe, to
feel like someone who’s more
than half alive.
A whole person; someone who
knows what a heartbeat still sounds like.
I wonder if you’ve ever truly realized how deeply
your leaving devastated me.
How it literally killed everything I ever was,
everything I ever could’ve been, should’ve been.
How I’ll never again - even be.
I’ve tried to hate you far too many times
to know I simply can’t.
I find it easier just to hate myself, to blame
myself, to die each day a little more at a time.
We talk now;
I know.
And if I ever came close to actually hating you,
it’s been during these times.
Hearing your voice on the phone.
Hearing that smile of your’s when we laugh
over something silly that means absolutely nothing,
yet, is still the whole world to me.
All I do is wait now - on our hello’s,
on them becoming, once again, just
another painful…goodbye.
It’s all I know to do, and I couldn’t care less
as to why.
And, so, I wait, so afraid that one day I remember
how to breathe, again.
I’m not sure I could live like that.
Because, if truth be told, deep down, way down, I don’t want to.”



Sanguine Sparkle Faded


For my birthday dinner, I went to the Canada Room (a silly name for a university cafeteria in Canada), which is where I eat dinner every Sunday-Thursday night, 6 o’clock, just after St Basil’s bell tolls for Evening Prayer. 
I sat alone, eating a chicken wrap, and having a conversation with myself about whether or not I was eating what a twenty-year-old should. I warned myself that my metabolism is not what it used to be and getting fat is not an impossibility, but concluded that I need the oil for my skin and if I get cellulite, fine, I can change that, but psoriasis is a chronic disease, condition and my skin, my skin. Twenty-year-olds are supposed to worry about getting fat, about keeping their physique, but I am too graceful to have such conscious conversations, anyway. My palms became sticky and I looked around as if I was a queen feeling guilty for having to wipe her hands on a piece of scrap bread which might as well be given to the poor, a queen sitting alone with the poor in communion under her table.
I trembled as I ate. I trembled for want of ginger ale. I got tea instead. My joints felt inflamed; I could feel my knees throb as I walked like a guard from chair to counter from counter to chair from chair to counter from counter to chair. There are many wars inside my body, inside many insides; some wars I didn’t even start in the first place. They just happened. My blood spills from many sources; I have many rivers of blood, mad creeks of blood. Rio Sangria! 
No sangria for me. Suddenly, my sanguine lower lip surged against the benevolent porcelain edge, as if the teacup was my only lover. And for the moment, it was. (I called my lover first. I loved him first. I remembered and was afraid. I was afraid and remembered.)
Or maybe it was, in fact, 
the edge of a bath
(tub) of milk and red rose tea,
my skin pinching, smooth and silky,
a queen dripping in self pity.
I should have stopped, contemplating myself on the edge, because I felt pain and strong discomfort.
You know, no one wished me a happy birthday in flesh and blood.  The closest anyone came was the busboy, who told me to have a good night after I thanked him for doing his job and washing the dishes like he was getting paid for it, because he was. I hoped he had a good night too, I really did, because, really, someone had to.
Earlier today, I was meant to have a cardiac echo, ultrasound. I mentioned that last night, twice. But I didn’t. Have the cardiac echo, ultrasound, that is. The cardiac technician was a man and I stopped the appointment because I felt discomfort. I started to cry and then I cried. The receptionist asked me if I was okay and I knew she was really asking if I was a victim…you know. I cried as if I was a victim…but I’m not.
My senses are valid.  This is the beginning of my Jazz Age, but it sounds like the blues, to me.


The Deer on Your Headlights

Staff note: We’ve all been there.


I’ve been staring at the blinking cursor for an hour, and it’s only making everything worse. I want to write that prose – that prose which would make everyone hate you, as much as I hate you. I want to create that prose which would channel all my anger and frustration and hatred. But I can’t even start; I can’t even write a sentence, much less a prose. Because I can’t even hate you. You let me down, and make me believe your false promises. You make me believe that we had a chance. You gave me hope but that was even fabricated. And despite everything, I can’t hate you. I still fall for your eyes and how innocent and gleaming they are; for your smile and how it always captivated me; for your laugh and how it just makes me want to hear it every day. I still fall for you despite the pain you had (and continuously have) inflicted on me. I still fall for you despite the bite you’d given me in exchange of all the kisses I’d lent you. I still fall for you. I still fall.

And I will constantly fall in love with you every day.