C.S. Lozie

Bearded Mouth

In primary school, I had this teacher. I don’t remember her name but if you ask me to close my eyes and think of her, I’d see three things: One, a beautiful pastel green pencil skirt she would often wear. Two, a ripe black mole by her upper lip. And three, a dark-skinned chin, full of even darker hair. Well, maybe not “full of hair”, but just enough coarse-looking coils to stir us into calling her a wicked witch when she wasn’t listening. “Ah, she can eat you oh!”, “She is wicked to her husband”, “Don’t you know she hates children?” “She will flog you 60 times!”—these were the mythical lies that 9-year-old children were throwing across the P.6 classrooms like a game of telephone. In retrospect, the source of these accusations was never verifiable. I was either hearing it from one loud-mouthed boy who ate his cold lunch with too much saliva in his mouth, or I was hearing it from another boy who would elaborately plan to push my pencil case down during end-of-term party so I would bend and he would see under my skirt. Imagine. Meanwhile, I don’t think she beat any of us more than any other regular Nigerian cane-loving enthusiast. In fact, I don’t think that woman had ever touched me with a cane in all the years I went there.

Then why was I so quick to believe those stories?

Honestly, as pathetic as it may seem now, I really thought boys knew more than girls at that age. I learned somewhere that the loudest voice was carrying the strongest reasoning. But more gravely, somewhere in the recesses of my 9-year-old mind, I was very comfortable believing that women who had facial hair were unkind, treacherous, monstrous, capable of great unkindness and quite frankly, willing to devour children they wanted to punish.  A few years ago, I got lost on the World Wide Web and found myself in a Nairaland forum where a man spent some hundred words, complaining bitterly about all the hair his sister had on her chest. By the end of the post, he had called his sister Satan without ever mentioning any evil she had done. The conclusion was made on the single premise that she had a hairy chest. And there it made sense, why my mother’s mood always seemed to deflate on the days when I would see a tiny hair on her chin, and move to stroke it.

In 1957, a Spanish physician —Juan Huarte— decided that “the woman who has much body and facial hair (being of a more hot and dry nature) is also intelligent but disagreeable and argumentative, muscular, ugly, has a deep voice and frequent infertility problems.” Reasoning like this has lasted until now. Growing up and hearing similar myths about women with facial hair led me to regard facial hair on women as an abnormality that hit maybe 1% of the population. However in her article, Female facial hair: if so many women have it, why are we so deeply ashamed?, Mona Chalabi reports that as many as 1 in 14 women deal with the growth of male-patterned hair from as young as 11 years old. 1 in 14 women makes a total of 56 million women. 56 million is a lot of women made to think they are terribly unusual; a huge chunk of women made to feel inherently criminal, based on nothing they have done by the work of their hands or intention in their hearts, but merely by the hair on their chinny-chin-chins. It is a crazy, yet popular, opinion that women with facial hair are criminal. In her work, Chalabi also recounts the influence of Darwin’s book, The Descent of Man, on male scientists hungry to validate an obsession to segregate by using racial hair types to indicate primitiveness. “One study, published in 1893, looked for insanity in 271 white women and found that women who were insane were more likely to have facial hair, resembling those of the ‘inferior races,’” she reports. Fortunately, this wasn’t always the truth everywhere. While Darwin and Huarte where working hard to segregate and negate women with facial hair, the Yoruba people down south were building the sacred image of a bearded female leader called “Iya Nla.”

Bearded Great Mother headdress (Iya Nla). Wood, encrustations, feather, h. 1515/16 inches. W. 89/16 inches.  Seattle Art Museum. Photography by Paul M Macapia

The Iya Nla face figure is the most sacred mask paraded during the annual Gelede festival, a procession of masks dedicated to perform and portray the tropes of femininity as accounted in Yoruba oriki. As opposed to the other masks, the Iya Nla is the only one carried at night, covered in an opaque veil that suggests an otherworldly power, too great to be seen, but so powerful it must be acknowledged. For scholars like Henry Drewal, the Iya Nla face represents “the essence of Gelede, and constitutes the foundation of Yoruba society.”

“The word Gelede describes a spectacle that relaxes and pacifies the beholder,” writes Babatunde Lawal, who has written most extensively on the subject.  In his words, Gelede is primarily dedicated to the maternal principle in nature, personified as Iya Nla, the Great Mother. There are many different origin stories of the festival, most of which conclude that the inner spirit of the sacred mother must be evoked for any fertility and reproduction to occur. What I find interesting here is that in a festival designed to conjure up the most cultural epitome of femininity—childbirth—the most important visual metaphor of that the event is that of a woman with a bearded face. Meanwhile, in our colloquial understanding, the beard seems to negate that femininity, and seemingly cause sterility.  But even though the beard (irungbon), in Yoruba culture, is seen as a symbol of wisdom and advanced age, women with one are very cautious about keeping it, for fear that they may be accused of being Aje (commonly translated as “witch”).

How manage?

Well, it turns out that fear is partly responsible for this misunderstanding. By creating myths of woman as an inherently secret creature who would attack you without your knowledge, there is a paranoia that women aim to be feared, rather than understood. Apparently, there have always been rumours of women who would “just look at you and that will be the end,” or the women who could steal your organ by walking past you. The myth of the irascible and wicked Aje has unfairly allowed women to be punished arbitrarily, for making gestures that may correlate with, but not cause, misfortunes. As a result, women have had to take extra caution to rid themselves of anything that may seem Aje-like.

But before being negated to mean witch, “Aje” was a word for the respected mothers who could be destructive, but more often, brought balance and maintained social order and morality (Ifogbontwaase). Because the mechanism of their healing wasn’t articulated visibly in the same way as masculinity, the feminine power was often embedded in mystery. The fear of the unknown provided a competitive threat to the predictable and visible strategy of male physical power paraded in battles and exposed through war. In his book, The Gelede Spectacle, Lawal explains that “to the Yoruba, nature has compensated the women in other ways by giving them cunning (ogbon aje) with which to level up with the physical advantage of men.” And so, men cannot allow themselves to be manipulated by the “…explosive nature of male-female relations in a male dominated society.” When Henry Drewal, author of the book “Gelede”, interviewed some local Yoruba men, he also confirmed that there was a reverence for women’s power that bordered on revulsion and fright. One of the men complained that women have the power to bring technological advancement but instead choose not to:

“[T]he aje change into birds and fly at night. If they used that knowledge for good, it might result in the manufacture of airplanes…they can see the intestines of someone without slaughtering him; they can see a child in the womb. If they used their powers for good they would be good maternity doctors.”

In his mind’s eye, women are responsible for holding back their creative strength. On one hand, the thought seems empowering. But on the other hand, it dismisses the systemic dilution of femininity into only things that smell like candy, and bodies that glisten hairlessly in the sun. While some women do prefer to smell like candy or glisten hairlessly, it is important to see the ways others make the world unlivable for women who refuse to participate in the performance of that one fickle, and pre-colonially dislocated narrative around femininity. The truth is that some women with beards will wax for the rest of their lives. But some women won’t. Unfortunately, some of the women who don’t will get death threats from men, insisting that it is morally wrong for them to retain the hair on their faces. Women like Harnaam Kaur: a 29-year-old woman who decided to stop shaving frantically every morning. Without caring that Kaur has polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which can offset hormonal changes and increase hair growth, causing both emotional and physical pain, there are strangers on the internet that threaten to take her life away if she doesn’t shave.  It is not hard for me to imagine that the Nairaland guy threatens to do the same to his sister for harbouring hair he deems Satanic.

With more time, I could guide you into the profound world of scientific and biological reasons why women grow male-patterned hair on their bodies. However, this is not that essay. This is a shorter one that simply asks that we see how far our realised forms of femininity have deviated from what was once the mystical, idealised metaphor of a full femininity that placated the earth and removed hostility from its womb, providing abundance and regeneration for all who asked. If the face of that prayer is that of a bearded woman, why and how have we become so ungrateful for what the bearded women in our lives can teach us about duality and harmony?

“Iyamapo toto aro no dama e ko  kere  abirun lenu”
 Iyamapo, please, I beseech you, I do not intend to slight you with bearded mouth

-iwi Egungun (translated by Theresa N Washington in The Architects of Existence: Aje in Yoruba Cosmology, Ontology, and Orature)

In this moment, I wish I could reach out to my old teacher and tell her we were just silly. I wish I could tell her I didn’t know her well enough to make any of the judgements I made. I wish I could tell her she never has to agree with the loudest opinion; that in matters of wisdom, might definitely doesn’t make right. If you could take me back to Primary 6 with what I know now, I would un-look that over-salivated young man along with his foul-mouthed accomplices, and find a way to let her see that, according to Yoruba mythology, a bearded woman may, in fact, be the sacred reason for every season.


Sheila Chukwulozie is a filmmaker and tea-maker who uses the camera to preserve the full range of human expression in the belief that emotions like civilizations, may one day go extinct. Her works have been shown in, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’ivoire, England, Germany, South Africa, Czech Republic and USA. In 2020, Sheila spent three months with Delfina Foundation filming a documentary film on the relationship between pole dancing and religion called |temple| of which an excerpt has been shown both in Delfina foundation and Arebyte gallery, London. From August 2017- August 2018, she travelled as a Thomas J Watson fellow studying with traditional mask makers and cloth weavers in eight African countries. As a writer, she writes mainly on the African perspectives of global matters relating to sonic history, anthropology and digital humanities. Her work has been published by The Republic Journal, Disegno and Infrasonica. Her latest essay published by LIFE magazine was long listed for the SOPA journalist awards 2022. Her installation at the Johannesburg Art Fair “Thanks Xenophobia” has been reviewed by Artnet, Frieze, Financial Times and other leading media houses. Her latest film “Egungun” (directed by Olive Nwosu) has been launched at the British Film Institute, TIFF International film festival, Aspen film festival and Sundance. Her most recent installation called “OBSIDIAN” is a collage of materials—visual and audio—made in collaboration with artist Jasmin Fire, curated by Raphael Guilbert. The piece showed through a digital portal connecting Berlin to Lagos in real time, using live feedback from both performers and audience members.




Amber Day Wild

Taylor, I Love You, But We Should Have Gone to Therapy Instead of Fighting with a Frat Boy in the Rain

Absence makes the heart
burst open. Every now and then,
Reason yields to desire.
Grief logic ebbs and flows—
a linguistic pull towards home.
My self-talk snags on a memory,
and I inhabit the dream in reverse—
total eclipse of coping techniques.

Instead of calling my X, I spend time with family.
At dinner, my grandma uses Tinder
as a verb. Have I Tindered any men
this month? I change the subject.

I jokingly say that buying Taylor Swift tickets
was the most stressful day of my life.
This upsets my entire family. They partake
in a rage-fueled trauma dump. My mind grows
another hour. The alphabet rearranges itself again.

The alphabet is a symbol for sounds
that live inside the body. The body
is biodegradable; Taylor’s scarf is not.
What if we let Things control us
because we know they will outlast us?
Does time still paralyze you, Taylor?

I don’t want to be a human
with a body anymore. I want
to be a garden filled with toads
the size of Taylor Swift’s discography.
From my periphery, someone steps
inside my dirt. Honorary lover,
help me cope with grief.

No, this isn’t right, either.
I go back to dinner with the fam.
My sister fights with my uncle
over reproductive rights.
Sorry Taylor, but the etymology
of hysteria is dumber than dancing
in refrigerator light. No, there’s
nothing wrong with my uterus.
I’m just really fucking sad.

All the things we’ve done for love,
but none of us went to therapy.
It’s not like you lay on a couch
taking a Rorschach test, but fine.
Let’s make it cliché. Taylor,
tell me what you see here.

No, this isn’t your X
lover’s window streaked with rain.
No one’s dancing in a fenced-in
parking lot with you. These lines
don’t map the position of your bodies.
Blades of grass don’t crowd
an arbitrary boundary.

This is a square with vertical lines inside it.
This is a symbol for our grief.
We can draw lines around anything,
Taylor. We can make anything
mean everything to us.


Amber Day Wild is a Certified Child Life Specialist who helps children cope with stressful medical procedures. She also writes poems about her experience having borderline personality disorder. Her work has appeared in ē· rā/ tiō, Ghost City Review, and The Cackling Kettle. You can find her on Instagram @amberdaywild.




Rochelle Hurt

Nan Goldin – Greer in a Babydoll Dress, NYC (1981)

[Greer as bouquet¹. Greer levitating. Greer as rice grain². Greer with measuring tape³. Greer as ghoul⁴. Greer as Sissy⁵. Greer with a pin in her chest⁶. Greer as studio⁷. Greer modeling jewelry for Einsteins⁸. Greer in bed⁹. Greer posing nude for her friends¹⁰. Greer in open-mouthed laughter¹¹. Greer getting hitched. Greer getting high¹². Greer giving side-eye. Greer opening Sissy’s torso¹³. Greer dressing Divine¹⁴. Greer flirting with Candy Darling¹⁵. Greer smoking with Teri Toye¹⁶. Greer blotting her lips. Greer papering her skull. Greer swallowing knives¹⁷. Greer with a light in her chest. Greer with birthday cake¹⁸. Greer with pointy red nails¹⁹. Greer in a veil. Greer looking away. Greer as bruise²⁰. Greer as pretzel²¹. Greer in Greer suit²². Greer taking a bubble bath²³. Greer tucking Sissy in. Greer with wires for ribs²⁴. Greer hanging her dermis like pantyhose²⁵. Greer in stitches²⁶. Greer giving the finger²⁷. Greer ascending.]

¹  The artist Greer Lankton once told Nan Goldin she gave birth to herself in a dream.

²  After art school, Greer lived in Nan’s loft, where she made dolls and met her husband, Paul. Six years before Nan photographed their wedding, she took this photo.

³  Among Lankton’s notes: I was born April 21 1958 at 1:09am in Flint Michigan at McLaren General Hospital, I was 6lb 13 oz, 19” long, 13 ½” head circumference, 13” chest. At 8:00am on August 14th 1978 I had sex-reassignment surgery by Dr. Richard Murray in Youngstown Hospital Southside Unity, Youngstown, Ohio. I was 5’8” and weighed 130 lbs.

⁴  Preferring a daughter to a sissy son, her parents paid for the operation with help from their church, where her father was a minister. 

⁵  Sissy was the doll Greer cut open most. Like Greer, she had the operation. Like Greer, she had a tiny waist and a red heart painted on her chest. Like Greer’s, all her teeth were human. 

You don’t forget that you used to be a boy. (Lankton)

Goldin called The Ballad of Sexual Dependency “the diary I let people read. It enables me to remember.”

After AIDS in the 80s, Goldin said, “I lost everybody who carried my history.

At 38, Lankton wrote: I’ve been in therapy since 18 months old, started drugs at 12 was diagnosed as schizophrenic at 19, started hormones the week after I quit Thorazine got my dick inverted at 21, kicked Heroin 6 years ago. Have been Anorexic since 19 and plan to continue. A few months later, she overdosed.

¹⁰ “Greer had few protective devices or defenses from the world.” (Goldin)

¹¹ When Rilke writes of childhood dolls, he places them somewhere between ourselves and the amorphous world pouring into us.

¹² After her own overdose, Goldin called opioids “a padding between you and the world.”

¹³ Lankton was known to wear doll flesh around town like a great soft shell.

¹⁴ The dolls’ skins and names were always changing. Arms and wigs on the floor. Their insides varied: glass eyes, foam guts and nylon tendons, steel joints and plastic elbows. Sometimes a drop of blood from Greer—kindred.

¹⁵ Those Coke bottle hips.

¹⁶ Those coat hanger cheek bones.

¹⁷ Goldin said Lankton’s work was like surgery without anesthesia.

¹⁸ Body as art: Lankton made plaster casts of her friends’ bellybuttons. “She had a fascination with them,” Goldin said, “as a symbol of the source of life.”

¹⁹ Her own she recarved directly into her skin.

²⁰ Goldin: “Supposedly, the brain can’t tell the difference between emotional pain and physical pain.”

²¹ Without anesthesia, you’d remember everything.

²² Body as red herring: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency contains over 700 snapshot portraits. “I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough,” Goldin wrote.

²³ Right before she died, Lankton washed Sissy’s face and hung her in the closet.

²⁴ Her first self was small—a split clothesline she twisted into a doll.

²⁵ So in the end we really destroyed you, doll-soul. (Rilke)

²⁶ For her last show, she wrote: FUCK Recovery, FUCK PSYCHIATRY

²⁷ Fuck it all because I’m over it. Over the roof.


Rochelle Hurt is a poet and essayist. She is the author of three poetry collections: The J Girls: A Reality Show (Indiana University Press, 2022), which won the Blue Light Books Prize from Indiana ReviewIn Which I Play the Runaway (Barrow Street, 2016), which won the Barrow Street Poetry Prize; and The Rusted City: A Novel in Poems (White Pine, 2014). Her work has been included in Poetry magazine and the Best New Poets anthology. She lives in Orlando and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Central Florida. 




Kimberley Chia


wears flowers in her hair. exudes nourishment, occupies space without questioning. lays claim to being. throws parties with bright techno music and actually enjoys it. disagrees, freely. she lies naked in your bed and farts in colour. it is a position i am decidedly unenvious of, and yet something, somewhere, is stillborn. it sputters and spills inside of me. i listen to my therapist, who is also white and grunts distantly whenever i say the word intersectionality. i am fisting the counter-narrative and it returns a relentless nothing. my forearms are soiled. i’ll bet she knows how to use a fish knife. how to opt (regrettably, of course) out of discourse. and how to ski. in my dreams i am squeezing into her skin, a pair of too-tight jeggings, while people are loudly fucking in the changing room next to mine. it splits halfway up my back. looking down, my shins have turned magenta in protest. someone, over oat milk flat whites, tells me that decolonisation is a praxis. maybe deleting vsco is practice. maybe michelle yeoh is practice. or maybe it is deep-throating my worth, holding it flaccid in two hands, pleading for it to stand.


Kimberley Chia is Singapore-born and Paris-based. Her poetry has been published in Sine Theta Magazine, Clare Market Review, and elsewhere. When not writing, she is exploring movement, working at an international organisation, and/or cooking elaborate soups. Find her on Twitter @kimberleycq or Instagram @catchingpenumbras.




Shelby Pinkham

Unskippable Pharmaceutical Ad


such luxurious bones

open, my mouth in       listen 
usually, I        avoid intimacies
like loving myself is selfish.

of course,   sincerity alludes me.
in the dentist’s office, I fight the 
urge to say:        drill me, daddy. 

you say deeper. here 
is a recovery              for me. 
something, of course I cannot

afford.               therapy: 
to focus                            on talk 
            I’m in it for the action. 

my rotten, half-developed wisdom 
               tooth.    I pay 
out of pocket. dentist and I,

in radical communication: or 
a lie brought to you            by the same 
system that insinuates care.  

a drug I would take for healing: 
being paid a living        wage 
at                        the university. 

you say                     wider. 
I press with my whole 


Shelby Pinkham (they/she) is a Chicanx, bipolar poet from the Central Valley. Their first collection of poems, Rx / suppressor, was a semifinalist in Noemi’s 2022 Poetry Prize. She works as an editor for the Kern County literary journal Rabid Oak and as an educator. They were selected for Lambda Literary’s Emerge Editorial Scholarship and fellowship at Lambda’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices. Her writing recently appeared in or is forthcoming in ctrl + v, The Ana, and Lunch Ticket. 




travis tate


I think that feeling happy is akin to feeling briskly alive, 
aware and cognizant of your hands, the gravity of 
your body, the sounds of each singular thought that
I have paired with some kind of movement. There is
rain on the horizons. There are lines from here back 
to where I am, a circular motion that leads me back 
to myself. That isn’t a new notion. To discover oneself
against the grinding uneasiness of life. You are eating 
something that I find disgusting. But I let you eat it. 
I whisk Time in a large Pyrex bowl where it fluffs like
eggs, a meringue, tart & delicate. When I wake in the 
morning, I call you sunshine. You are a new brilliance.
I get too drunk & someone I barely know tells me a 
story wherein I am the hero, normal, valiant, smiling. 
There are many apples. There are rain clouds that 
hang but do not burst. Every sound hurdles towards me
in a gracious manner: I love you I love you I love you



To sup on ice cold martinis, like babies, 
like little village people on the 
prowl of alleviating wanton feelings— 
To want more than your two hands can hold.
A white queer, wearing one of those large
locked chains says that conversation is going
nowhere—to us as we discuss the dumb 
fallacy of gender. The moon glides 

between the clouds,

hanging softly like earrings on the ear,
low & silver. I don’t believe you when 
you when tell me no one dies by falling into 
one of those grates at the edge of bars. I say
I’m a highly anxious person. & I touch my 
heart. Everything is always looming 
over me. Now, I resolved to just live in it. 
Because I don’t deserve much more than
I have been given. Even if it all drowns
me, I’ll pretend the water is gin & the 
moon will be the twist.



I’ve been made to lick my wounds. I can’t find what animal I am. 
Am I an animal? See, where the thing differs is that

I have no hair on my head. No fur to caution against the cold wind. 
Animals love their mothers—that is the same. I perch atop my bed

like a small bird. Or a bird of prey. I killed a mouse in my room 
once. See, I do love death. I sing when the moon is full. There is a 

lack of children as I gave them away. See, I have no feeling for 
material things. I count the wolves, brethren. One. Two. A mole 

hides and sometimes I do that too. 
But look at the havoc god has placed in between my body and yours.

Isn’t it a blessing? Not to be hungry, venomous,
for something more? Ha! I don’t understand

that blessing. I want more. Ravenous, raven-like, 
like a beast with an empty belly.

But that’s not nice.
See, writing a poem about being 

an animal and being Black is hard. 
The poem’s been written before

in blood.



The shape of what you know is, say, a circle.              & what you don’t know is a triangle. 

             You could see how they wouldn’t necessarily fit together. 

I am sweating on the train home carrying a vampire costume that I paid 

too much money for.

             I keep thinking some things are behind me. 

             Metaphorically, but also literally.          The train is moving forward. 

Yesterday, I felt an acute sense of sorrow mixed with contentment. 

Why do I feel lost when I’ve been found?

                         The great sorrow of this is THIS               I S the way 

things should be. 

Sometimes I dream of things that end up being real.

                                                        So maybe I’ve known these things all along.

                                           Sometimes we are made to listen. 

                                                        To keep the ear wide in anticipation 

             of great new learning.

                            —I’m meant to put the knowing around what I do not. 


travis tate (they/them) is a queer playwright, poet, and performer living in Brooklyn. Their poems have been published in Southern Humanities Review, Vassar Review, The Boiler, among other publications. Their first collection of poetry, Maiden, was published in June 2020 by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. They were a fellow in the Liberation Theatre Company’s Playwriting Residency and currently are in Theatre East’s Writers Group. Their plays have been produced by Dorset Theatre Festival, Victory Gardens, Theatre East and Breaking The Binary Festival. They earned their MFA in playwriting and poetry from Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Find out more information at travisltate.com




Allison Akootchook Warden

let’s try it this way for the last ones

peace living on our own land.
                              an island, ocean freezes.
                                                                                                           berry spots for family.
                we kept moving, then settled here,
                                and the peace was here and it was good.     

butter was the emissary
         my great-grandfather would walk across lines that he didn’t know were there, across to get butter.  and there were other things at the trading store that he walked to in the Arctic with just his thoughts for days and days oh to taste the butter again and to bring it back to his family after walking back again,           singing an old song, maybe one forgotten now.       

        we had their butter and bullets and guns and candy and flour and flour sacks 
before we met them.

because of the trading, and we were not in their expansion pack papers. 
                                            we were in the area of the map that they hadn’t eaten.

             their bellies were occupied of trying new ways to 
      bring an entire People into submission
                   /we say that they trained all of us to hide who we really are but we never did submit in our hearts, that is why great-granddaughters today transmit signals it is finally safe to tell some of the stories but we did not have the arsenal that they did and the General really didn’t want to kill everyone in the village because they are on some new protocols that the psychologists want to try for their research study and so they /

                   just moved in.  
                                                                the worst neighbor ever, like a monster baby that cannot eat enough.                 the one from the long ago stories.    but worse than the old stories.
       their elbows poked in every direction and there were no points of negotiation

we were the brown ones that did not speak their language.
                                                                           yet we understood. 

            the last heathen savages to tame out on the wild frontiers, the ones on the very edges in the very hidden pockets in the Arctic Ocean, they saw us as something to stomp upon and to play with like a new toy and they get to try new things to press down on their new toy and.
                                                        we understood their motions.        we could sense their joy in the promise of destruction.   it was a never-ending hunger and after us they will have run out of places on the map to eat so this one,         t  h  i  s.         t   i   m   e
                                                                                 they    s    a    v    o    r     e     d      us.
              they allowed the researchers to come first before they bulldozed all of our sod houses.

      to make a runway.        
                                          so they could build a huge metal house where our village once was.

     this is a true story.   we still remember that day that the bulldozers came.

                          the researchers stripped our grandmothers and grandfathers naked in the name of science when they were just children and put them in an ice cold freezer to see if their young Eskimo bodies were more resistant to cold than their Norwegian bodies or other bodies that they had been prodding at from Africa or wherever they travel as part of the team. 

                    they pinched the fat of our Elders.
               with cold, metal utensils.

that is how we knew who they really are.

                  and you can still look up the study and see the percentage of fat and the skull size of my Ancestor that is just recently passed and.
                                                     it wasn’t hundreds of years ago.         no.    
                                                                                                                 it was not that long ago.

      and I know at this point of the story you might need to go to the bathroom to vomit or maybe you need to laydown and I want you to find it within yourself to keep reading because it is better to take it in all at once like a wash of energy that is felt this is a real part of what happened because today they look at us as drunks and dirty people who need to just get a job and become part of society but we did have a job and we did have a society and everythingwasatpeace and we did remember and do remember the balance and the long long ago stories so when you try to medicine us and tell us we are crazy and unkept and that we cannot stop drinking or smoking weed or pushing our own heads down into the ground it is because of this

                                                                                                                wound that YOU created.     
                            and I am not a victim here.     
                     we were in harmony with the land
      we had a job and we had no alcohol.
we would gather as a community.                                many many many many times.
                                                           not this solo adventurer thing you try to sell us as a dream.

                   we still gather as a community.  we still gather as a community.  we still gather as a community and we pick the berries and we hunt the animals and share and we still know most all of the old songs and yes some of our people do drink.    it is none of your business.
                                                                                leave us the fuck alone now.    to use your language.

or better, fuck you and the horse you rode in on. but these hate words are not our ways, see you have even made the precious great-granddaughter forget her composure for a moment.  the true story memories shake stillness.  and yes, she carries the still water, the water that is still.  she carries the sacred water.     still.

                           the beat of her People push her through the needle.
                                           the beat of her People 
                                                       push her through the needle. 

                                                                     the beat of her People                                                           

                                                                                   p  u  s   h.         h.   e.    r.

                                                                                                t   h   r    o     u    g      h

                                                                                                               t   h. e.      n  e   e   d.  le. 

                                            holding the still.   sacred.    water.  

               the water.   is    s   t   i   l    l              

                                          s     a        c        r       e          d.


                                                                  w e.      still hold.                 

                                                                                 the sacred water.    


Allison Akootchook Warden is an Iñupiaq poet and tribal member of the Native Village of Kaktovik. In 2022, her poem we acknowledge ourselves was featured in the Land Acknowledgements issue of Poetry Magazine, Alaska Quarterly Review published her poem, portal traveler, and her poetry was part of Insidious Rising, a hyphen-labs project for Google Arts and Cultures. Her Twitter poems were part of the 2017 Unsettled exhibition, initiated by the Nevada Museum of Art. She is a 2017 creative writing alumna of the Djerassi Resident Artist Program. She lives in a cabin in Fairbanks, Alaska.




Leslie Benigni

Green Fuses/Halcyon

               I walk this way every day. 

Potential student candidates gather in the Floor 1 Lobby with their parents and university coordinators.

               The flow is out of sync.

               Exhalations become more apparent.

               I notice more than ever that I am shoulder to shoulder with every other student.

               Floor 1 Lobby is shaped like an eye in its ENTERING and EXITING.

               Parallel lines and then curves in the center to make way for the center circle the potential students are gathered around. 

               They’re peering up at the prized possession of our campus:

                     [one of the last remaining trees on

               We’ve been told it’s an ancient oak tree collected before the fourth World War when plants use to filter and create oxygen. 

               Before the discovery of catalytic oxygen transmitted from the surface of metal.

               Students have been told it cost the university millions of dollars. 

               Something to be proud of.

               {It feels somehow unnatural here.}

               The lobby is relatively dark except for the 

               large round artificial light that shines down on 

               the tree–

               I think I probably should since this is my last semester and will never see a [marvel] again. 

               I’m the only one in the swarm that turns my head to consider it

               (at least from what I can see.)

               The sight of the wisping, 

               strong, leaved tentacles 

              fill me with the fear of giants but the

              [serenity?] of going home.

               I can feel my breath smoothening, the edges of anger rounding out. 


               I come home from campus after midnight.

               I hadn’t realized how late my stay at the library was.

              The evening train was the same.

              I was no one 

              and everyone—

              My silhouette stays within the doorway (I see my black presence in the window).

               I’m in my own space alone.

              The small blinking blue light from the living room means my forgotten laptop is finally charged.

              Flips on the lights.

              Flips off all lights except one by the desk.

              My presence is one large sigh, even in my own home.

Dr. Abdur Raqeeb Bashir
Mon 3/15/2109 5:32pm

To: Silas Angharad
Cc: Neve Szinger, Micah Welch +2more

Hi Silas, 

Hope all is well this semester as you wrap up your National Remembrance Reports. Sorry for the delay in response, but the folks from the Library of Remembrance (some of whom I’ve cc-ed within this email) were trying to remain concise with their information before I relayed their answer to your inquiry. 

I need to warn you beforehand that depending on the timing of all this, you may be barraged by the media. It appears your missing thirteenth person for your report is what the LoR folks are calling a “special once in a lifetime anomaly” (folks, correct my verbiage if needed) and completely unprecedented.

Your thirteenth person is rather special, and Northeast American University is proud that a student of ours has been selected to send in their NRR under the special circumstances that the subject of the report is still alive. You’ll be receiving a different list of forms as an attachment to this email. 

Please note that Student Account will be depositing $2000 for your travel expenses as it appears Prof. Dunbridge is located five hours north of the city in the town of Castport.

Do not hesitate to contact me should any questions or concerns arise, though for this case, perhaps any if all should be directed to the representatives of LoR. These folks will remain in contact with you after today to acts as aids, ask questions, and be there to answer questions.



Dr. Abdur Raqeeb Bashir (he/they)
Professor and Director of Anthropological Studies
Northeast American University


I stare at them and stand for some time, enough for the eventual sound of a light breeze through the grass to slither past.

They’re still and though they do not emit any ill-will, I simply feel it is time to pass.

Off to the far right is a black square doorway filled with undergrowth and weeds and I find my way through there.

I stumble across a third man, in black and tan. The square doorway is for a room with fallen trees, stumps, and the man looking up at the tallest live tree amongst the undergrowth, his one leg bent and placed up on a log.

               He’s gazing up at the height of the tree, which went through the ceiling through a clean-cut hole. 

                                           up and up.

               He’s gazing 

               The man will not talk to me and I brush past him without seeing his face. I do not need to see it to know it is there. 

               The loneliness of feeling unseen by others is as fundamental a pain as physical injury, but it doesn’t show on the outside.

               There’s mossy furniture, chairs and tables, on the edge of the otherwise white room filled with wildness. Filled with trees and trunks and everything that reminds me of leatherback journals and childhood into adulthood.

                                           up and up.


What cannot be contained cannot be contained.


It’s sunset upstairs.

I can finally see my own shadow on the wall and I realize that the sky is creamsicle and salmon.

My silhouette is a picture frame in an abandoned white warehouse like room with shut off lights above, beams showing depth.

Childhood, childhood, childhood.

Summer in the country. Full of June nights and sunsets: that’s what this room contains in its empty canvas of color.

But there are dried leaves on the floor. Fresh petals plucked by someone. 

Who else is here?

Gray brown
                             ferns feathering, 


               There are windows on the walls on this
               floor and it fills me with an unknown

               The walls are peeling, exposing peach colors, matching whatever wonderful sunset is outside.

in geraniums in 
the purest of magenta 
and violet
and elephant ears drumming against the

               I make my way past my own shadowed silhouette and beyond the dark beamed room. Beyond that is a room of natural light, no sunset, nor lights ahead and it reminds me of my grandmother’s grand hallway to the foyer. How I released frogs for races and clammered sneakers across tiled floors…

               Pale French window doors open on either side of me and at my feet are all unbloomed lilies, only the spikey, dark green, spear-like leaves bending, pointing and leaning. 

               All of the people are gone, they’ve left
               this space, this place. 

               This is my grandparents’ house, this part of the building. Down to the scent of fresh laundry and cigarette smoke. The almost muted jingling of my grandmother’s bangles and the tapping of my grandfather’s shoes to the radio.

              All snippets contained in the peelings of these walls.

               But I must move to new rooms.
               It is a compulsion, a destiny of sorts. 
               I am meant to as it is passage.

               Plant-filled skylines and window shafts
and bees on sedums and succulents (greedy little buggers)
                                      and creeping myrtle invading 
more rolling knolls but in living rooms and in bedrooms
        and ferns that grow behind curtains and light, 
        such wonderful, fading sunshine light is this
                         that creeps down and forth 
                                              unto nothing and though
                                                           I feel nothing I can
                                                               feel the warmth.


Memory is a glorious and funny thing.

It’s glorious how down a hallway with small budding grape hyacinths and dandelion freckled grass, it is that hallway with a light at it’s end that I am reminded of my office on the university’s campus. Glorious how I feel I am treading down to my office or to a class to see my students. There’s nothing like the feeling. Such a feeling at all.

It’s funny how through a glowing light of a door with water and reeds at it’s feet, I find myself outside, actually outside with no building or form of place behind me once I leave, and the patches of moss clawing into a small ox-bowed stream is the same that led to my greenhouse.

I see myself as a young man laying amongst the sparse, young trees in a clearing, sleeping.

(that give and take away shade with a passing

                                       up and up
Then opening my eyes and looking
               We could almost say, a living being is a memory which acts.

               I am light in a field.


Leslie Benigni is a recent MFA graduate of Bowling Green State University where she was also a staff fiction editor of the Mid-American Review. Her work has been published in *82 Review, OvergroundUnderground, Goat’s Milk Magazine, Not Deer Magazine, Analogies and Allegories Magazine, Quibble Journal, and more. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, haunting art museums, looking for new inspiration in the antiquated. Find her on Instagram and Twitter, as well as her website: lesliebenigni.weebly.com.




Alyson Kissner

Field Notes

There are universal methods for training compliance,
to eradicate another’s sense of self

and selfcontrol.

In the 1950s,
a social scientist named Albert Biderman interviewed returned prisoners of the Korean war

to determine why US soldiers had defected.

His government was gravely concerned.

They believed communists had developed the ability to brainwash.

Their men’s actions did not make sense to them.

They informed on fellow captives,
gave false confessions,

broadcast live against their countrymen.

Despite reports of cruelty in the camps,
upon release,

many soldiers left for China,

denouncing their former lives for those who’d been their torturers.

What Biderman found,

was not mindcontrol but a worldwide system of inciting submission.

He organised his research into Biderman’s Chart of Coercion,
identifying 8 categories of human behaviours.

8 categories which induced dependency,

and dread.

When linked,
he said,

these actions could break anyone.

Physical violence was not “a necessary nor particularly effective method” in controlling
one’s targets or maintaining devotion.

It was not violence but the fear of violence
which made them serve.

General MethodEffects (Purposes)Variants
1. IsolationDeprives victim of social support and their ability to resist. Victim develops an intense concern with self as a means of survival. Makes the victim dependent upon their captor.Although the cliché is that power corrupts,

The truth is that power reveals.

The first day you tested me was the first day we had keys.
2. Monopolisation of PerceptionFixes the victim’s attention upon immediate predicament. Fosters introspection. Eliminates stimuli competing with those controlled by the captor. Frustrates all action not consistent with compliance.Like windchimes before we hang them and the trees remember to quake,

Like like to the word likening when there’s nothing left to compare it to.
3. Induced
Debilitation and
Weakens victim’s mental and physical ability to think, to reason, to resist.Never ask if I grew up without an eyelash,

Whether I’m washing my face with microbeads,

If I sound pretentious
when I ask waiters for meals without fries.

How wearisome to hold to one’s consciousness
like a favourite coat
fluttering mortality in a
storm flap.

How wearing to ask you to stay.
4. ThreatsThreats need only be veiled or implied to cultivate anxiety and despair.In 20 years from now there will be more female serial killers than men and they’ll target friends and family if you don’t behave yourself then I won’t be a part of this family I’m kidding you’re kidding me I saw a bus walking home and almost threw myself beneath it I know that I’m a narcissist but I might be a psychopath you have no idea what you’ve done to me I have no idea what I could do if you were threated if you threatened me in just the right way.
5. Occasional IndulgencesProvides positive motivation for the victim’s compliance. Hinders adjustment to deprivation. Will cause a spike of dopamine at the release of threatening conditions. Stress and release become addictive over time.I was so relieved when you touched me at the park, in front of our friends and family, when you had not looked me in the eyes for days—

—when you remember your keys
—when you lock up
—when you open the door
6. Demonstrating “Omnipotence” and “Omniscience”Suggests futility of the victim’s resistance. Positions the captor’s opinions, thoughts, and reality as superior to the victim’s own.—But I never look anyone in the eyes why would I have looked you in the eye why would you look at me?

Look at me.
7. DegradationMakes cost of the victim’s resistance more damaging to self-esteem than capitulation. Reduces the victim to “animal level” concerns.LovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovLovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovLovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovLovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovLovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovLovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
8. Enforcing
Trivial Demands
Re-establishes the captor’s needs as central to the victim’s routine. Drains energy. Demands a constant focus. Changes goal-posts. Creates a relentless question—But you grew up with this too didn’t you this is your voice and your abusers’ and when their voices come first how can you tell where his ends and where you begin where she ends where he ends and where they begin how can you tell which self is the one which means to hurt you if you deserved it if you asked for it if you liked it if you did this all to yourself?Lay your tables counterclockwise,

Set your orchids out of season,

Stop verbalising this poem you write to get clean.

Then lay your head
against your mattress,

For as long as night lays its head against shipwrecks underwater.

Your thousand ghosts are not worth spilling to the dark.1

1 The following chart is adapted from Biderman’s Chart of Coercion, also called Biderman’s Principles, published by Amnesty International in 1973. Denoting the universal tools of torture and coercion, my “Effects (Purposes)” column has been lifted almost verbatim from this document. Diana Russell, Judith Herman, Jess Hill, and other feminist scholars have since noted the similarities of these methods to the patterns of domestic abusers. The only difference they found was that, unlike soldiers or kidnappers, abusive people perpetuate these actions without being trained.


Alyson Kissner is a Canadian-born poet completing her doctorate in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. In 2022, Alyson was co-winner of the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award for Scottish-based poets under 30, as well as shortlisted for the Rebecca Swift Foundation’s Women Poets’ Prize. Her writing has appeared in various journals including The Rumpus and Frontier Poetry, with work forthcoming in Anthropocene and Longleaf Review. She can be found on Twitter @alykissner.




Eniola Abdulroqeeb Arówólò

Tonight, I might commit the most grievous crime

(with a line from J.K Anowe)

he comes home tonight // with a bottle of Campari // a ripe disaster // nothing is better than a tavern // sprouting in the // mouth of a sot. //  which is to say,  father bellies an // alcove of all world’s booze. // once he thrashed mother // & she almost blanked out. // approach & dissect my grief & perform autopsies // —see how much damage it has done to my heart //  like a rust // chewing on the body of a metal.  // & again, my mother is a poem tonight // where the stanzas // become slurred by the cruel cadences of pummelling // & God!  i am the sad little audience to enjoy this frenzied fracas.  // call me a marigold // wilting from the sprinkling of angst // that gushes out every night from // the eyeballs of my mother. // at the exit of laughter // what else does a body perform // if not that it metaphors itself a riot against the soul? // which is to say this body balks over bliss // like a child deserting a musty doll // i want to break the foot of every shadow of him in this // room, blemish every inch of him with bruise // & let all the knives in the kitchen i hoist on his body witness his annihilation // the same way a bushfire watch //  a butterfly // reduce to ashes. // & my voice lacks remorse // like a snake depositing venom in a farmer’s leg.                   


Maybe, We Can Dance Once Again

after all the threnodies // these voices once twanged. // what spilled on the asphalt // last night? // the crimson of another boy // whose dreadlocks & Dior spectacles // threw a striking resemblance, // a reflection of cybercrime. // & often i am eclipsed in wonder // how somebody’s sartorial elegance // could be mistaken for iniquity // & bullets are always in anxiety // for the miracle of body baptism. // in the atrium of my heart // i found two tender songbirds // chirping unsung melodies // & before the night spilled over the roof // a curlicue of funereal crows stuffed with elegies // displaced their bodies. // who else dies again today—a boy, a grief-stricken child at the breasts of its war- ridden mother, the joy of a girl // limping home to brim her father’s soul // with a tale of rape. // a nightmare invaded my sleep // i saw my country morph into a wounded wolf // every howl of her for help // disembarked with a note of naught // until she whittled into oblivion. // here i offer // a spotless lamb // a dove // burnt incense // 12 sujuds // O Lord, take these as a sacrifice.                


Eniola Abdulroqeeb Arówólò is a Nigerian writer and a member of the Frontiers Collective. A Pushcart nominee, his works have appeared—or are forthcoming—in 4faced Liar, Fourth River Review, Rulerless, Perhappened, Lumiere Review, Temz Review, ANMLY, Tint Journal, Ake Review, Sunlight Press, Kissing Dynamite, Brittle Paper, Ice Floe Press, Afritondo, Better than Starbucks, and elsewhere. Currently, James Baldwin is his most-cherished essayist. Say hi to him on Twitter @eniola_abdulroq.