Growing

Growing

When I was four years old
My hair was in pigtails
The pin straight parting line, an indicator
Of the righteous path
I was meant to follow

All the way down
To my eyes stained with kohl
To ward off darkness
Underlining my eyes
Underplaying my achievements

To the crook of my nose
That was religiously massaged
By well-meaning keepers of my sexuality
Who sniffed out solitude
From the arch of my nose

My earlobes pierced
Before I could say the word gender
Branding not just my femininity
But my place in society
Weighed down by its expectations
But still enduring

The fuzz above my lips
Smeared with concoctions
To rid itself of sins
That would mar the image
Of a perfect woman
My lips aching
For lipstick to stain them
The foray into womanhood
Only completed by this rite of passage
But not too dark
Dark means evil
But doesn’t dark ward off evil too?

Saira Banu

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Of battles and wars

Of battles and wars

Of battles we fought inside
Like spiralling whirlpools
Never allowed to spill
Always dripping
Not parched, but never full
Unlike the wars they indulge in
Gushing forth like a tsunami
Washing over battles
For the victory of the war

Of battles that are fought
Over tears shed
For fathers, and brothers, and lovers
Of the wars that they fought
Over the honour
Of what lies between our legs

Of battles fought quietly, demurely
As is expected of our fights
The carnage, our dreams
The spoils, their might
Unlike their wars
Unlike the havoc they wreak
Claiming the laws of the universe

Of the battles we endure
Of all that we ration
As the wars they fight
Steer out of their bastions
The wars they wage
While we salvage

Of all the battles provoked
The ones we did not want to fight
Of the wars we were dragged to
A display of their spite

Of the battles they fought
But claimed were wars
Of our war
The one waged everyday
Against the world
Against us
Against war in itself

Saira Banu

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I’m too dyslexic for uni

I’m too dyslexic for uni

I’m too dyslexic for uni
a source on marriage and sacrament in Spain in the 1500s looks smudged
But it’s on a computer screen
I want to scream

I’m too dyslexic for uni
The walls of my room are shrinking
I just want to finish this fucking reading
Before tomorrow
So i can sleep

Before my eyes get so heavy that they fall to my toes

Its 13 pages
I have read one and a half
The rest is miles away
Stretched out like the desert
Or a really flat field that you look out at and feel like you could just walk off the end of the earth

I’m too dyslexic for uni
I started writing this because i was fuming, panicking, needed to be calmed
Now i just feel embarrassed
because i just considered writing that i’d thought to call up my grandma to read it to me
Then i stopped

This is so embarrassing

I’m too dyslexic for uni
My chat with the disability service is on Monday
But even once i get extra time what are they gonna do
Get someone to fucking read these journal articles to me?

I feel like i don’t belong here unless i can do the readings
I’m studying history so should be able to do them no problem
History is all about books
Layered with dust and old white men’s semen

So i guess i don’t
I don’t belong here.
But i find it so interesting
The one and half pages i read on a trans man called Eleno in the 1580s was fascinating
So maybe i do

I wish they did audiobooks of historical sources…

Lilah Hyman

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Victims

Victims

You made me shatter / and I was in pieces / mirror shards / your shitty protestations staring / back at you from the floor / where you couldn’t help but throw me / like I was nothing / but a plaything to twist / into a victim

So sometimes I take myself back / and pretend like I’m who I was / before I opened my arms to you / but the truth is I’ll never have the / bright eyes you pierced between your fingernails / without care / because you said they were so pretty

But explosions don’t come without aftermath / and the proof will always be where / you left it / because you have never been more wrong / than when you thought you would escape / in your nonchalance

I like to think / I know your guilt

I know the darkest parts of you / and I know my memory still lives / somewhere you don’t want to address / so you’ll act like it’s fine / that I disappeared because you / couldn’t stop blaming me

You will cover your wounds / with plasters too small / and you will tell yourself / you were right all along

Pretence does not prove anything / and that is a promise because / I am not a saint / and I have screwed things up too / but I have changed and I / would let myself collapse / before papering over the cracks / with lies that will only fracture

Let me tell you / you will not stay sane / as long as you cannot grow

I do not search for a sorry / and I do not plead for you / on your knees / but I ask you / learn / do not look to be a hero / before you have been a victim / to your own mistakes

Katie Proctor

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Modes of communication

Modes of communication

Would you be surprised if I told you that I want you?

Has the stammering not been clear enough?

What about about the awkwardly timed jokes?

Have my side-glances not been direct enough?

Surely, the spiteful sarcasm, loaded with longing, was a dead giveaway?

In fact, I think I’ve done everything I could to tell you that I want you

Except tell you.

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To steady the pendulum

To steady the pendulum

swinging in the dark,
left to right,
I cannot see my own direction.

disillusioned-
unsure of what’s reality,
unsure of me.

dysphoric,
but of what?
who knows,
who needs to know.

maybe, of me, you see,
of me and who I’ll be.

and one day
I’ll know
that I was just for show
and I can be,
truthfully,
the one my heart does know.

Lauren Curr

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Inked

inked

I trace the draft of
the story you planned to write-
in pencil-
but you wanted it in pen.
maybe I did too.
but I knew life could be brighter
if only you wait.

so waiting is what I did,
afraid you might let go-
if I were too fast or slow-
but no- together,
we took the ink
and brushed the page
with a feathered quill,

and together,
we wrote our story
in permanent ink,
the cursive letters
joining words, alike
to the way our hands
connect. eternally.

with the quill, we
write our story into
motion, and the ink
flows free, creating something
beautiful, even in
the stains left

as the ink blots,
as the heart’s passions explode.
art. the smudged
blends into the paper,
the other threads of the tale
to create our own
kind of beautiful.

Lauren Curr

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Jane’s return

Jane’s return. ‘Do not struggle so,’ I have been told, and then felt Angered and afraid Of chains and of nets.Now I have returned to youof my own free will…

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Womanhood

Womanhood

My long hair is the hood of womanhood
A waterfall of compliments and male validation, a crown
You see me in the street and know i am a girl
If i shaved my head would i be a strong woman
Or an unwoman
Red riding hood becomes the wolf

Lilah Hyman

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Little Delhi Girl

Little Delhi Girl

A little girl skipped into the road during a red light
No older than four
Bare feet pattering against dusty tarmac

What if it turns green?
What if the cars don’t see her?

Smiling, as vibrant as Delhi itself
Child of the city

The traffic her playground
One note her prize

Lilah Hyman

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Unstring my wings

Unstring my wings.

Pretty little thing – doe eyes, gentle smile –
These things you call me and it’s sweet for a while,

Until they wrap up my wings in tangled twine,
Restrain me from nature and you think that it’s fine.

I have brittle bones and one word could break them into pieces for you to collect:
When this started, I could not expect

To be taken for a thing for you to call yours,
Take me from the moors and keep me indoors –

Babe, I just want to be free
And maybe that means that this isn’t meant to be.

Though tonight I won’t sleep a wink
For all this thinking, and overthinking,

I know it’s for the best.
You – you have put my heart to the test

And I am sick of making revisions
To fit into your future visions

Of a white picket fence life,
For I was not meant to be a wife,

Not really. I was meant to be a wild thing,
Running through forests, free to unstring

My wings and let them fly.

Rhi Henry

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Washing

Washing.

Heart beat pumping aching shoulders into motion
Coarse fabric beneath tired hands
The wail of an infant ringing in her ears

She places a detergent capsule in the machine, shuts it and moves the knob to 40 degrees mixed load.

Lilah Hyman

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