What if you are a bird and want to be a bee?

Perched in a Bengal sun and a world full of binaries,

a spirit seeks validation in begging, yet there’s no Wikipedia

article about what she’s pleading for.


Retorting gazes that burn him with disgust are surprisingly united.

Some take the shape of his parents, some Youtube comments,

some are even his own image that still has makeup and

dried up blood.


A cinema-hall full of people laugh at iridescent jokes doled out

that hurt like a train, even more than when the officer-in-charge

asked her to strip down because there was a bulge

in her pants. Lying down in the training camp’s hard cot,

she remembers an equally deranged afternoon when

her dad had taught her that there were only

men and women in this world with the neatness of a



Five years ago, a man thought transforming into a woman

would finally make him whole, so he borrowed another man’s

writings from a hundred years back that told stories of a woman

who wanted to be a man. Later that year, the man was

surrounded by a thousand eyes as his body slowly entered the

crematorium. His soul, however, was burned an eon back.


When the news spreads, the Virginia sun is still busy painting the sky

with the color of an egg yolk; the familiarity of both is not lost to those

who read the stories of Greek heroes slaying mythical monsters. Only these monsters

were danger close, even closer than the uncle who slid his hands

inside the guy’s pants because he wasn’t like other boys.


The incinerator slowly burned all the flesh, and people enjoyed it with a couple of beers;

For there were only ones and zeroes in this world, and one-ones and zero-zeroes

were thrown out of heaven.


Illustration by Alex Williamson.



Boasting in your light, you

have forgotten the strands of flesh that

once made you human.

I had to be conjured

from broken



I’ll feed on your stories of thunder.

Your charlatan tales

of valor, creating you

but not you.


Read me in your legends.

I am the one who roams in fear,

creating grandeur out of



Bone and ashes under

a licorice sky;

Lust stamped with a smell of

Wilderness. My screams

unrelinquished, yet



How many bullets have you left,


Let me show you the way.


Lacquered in a comatose white and gray, the auburn thatched mud houses look like the ruins of a terracotta army, battered by time. But they stand hollow, their windows stolen, their doors eaten by nature.
When the vicious jungle wind blows from the dry riverbed and passes through this necropolis, a howl ensues that tears open the naked breast of the rainforest.

Guineafowls peck little mites from the bones scattered across the plateau. Skeletal hands holding rifles, books, bags.

Or other hands.

A century ago, this patch of dense green had leopards, lions, tigers, elephants, wild buffaloes. Trapped between the bullets of sixty years of ferocious monarchy and the peculiarity of human masculine pride, the animals have traveled to become busts, adorned in the living rooms of the richest.

Time has crushed the biggest of kingdoms. The Kings and Queens have died. Revolution had taken place.

Then the rebels became rulers, and the first thing they did was to put every opposing butterfly to the waiting guillotine. Carnivals were named on dead men and women, their blood gushing through the river. That river has dried up into a valley of rust, where souls without salvation wander.

This used to be a good world. But then good worlds barely lasted.

He loved light. Like the flicker of sunlight that fell on his eyes, making their way between her flowy hair and salwar-clad shoulders, while he fiddled with poetry, lying on her lap.

This city of broken bridges ate small-time love like theirs, people said. They didn’t pay heed. Reckless as the monsoon, their love was devoid of any measured steps.

Five years later, the light had returned in his life. As he was slowly watching her body being engulfed in the pyre, he thought why he loved light so much, only to realize that it wasn’t light that he loved.

On that cold November night, two souls had melted into the darkness.

Only the city remained, ravenously waiting for its next victim, throwing poetry in the air as lures.