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Poetry by women and femmes

metal girl

in black holes it’s easy to pretend that she is just a hoax
that you are just human
but fantasy deliquesces
and the truth can be so easily unleashed

[you created me]
she coats her cracked lips with copper
(you wanted to be unearthed)
you taste the metal

she is forged venom
and you know so little about the antidote
but more often you know her wiring slipping between your ribcage
you are galvanized and malleable
and her toxins are excellent sophistry

she wears ordinary clothes but she wears them differently
velvet soft razors, silky buttered knives
and you relish the vitriolic cuts
but when she unwraps, her bronze flesh sets you on edge
(your thigh
her knife
her tongue)

sometime you wonder what beast she is
and then you know
serpent, ophidian
skin shimmering, gaze matte, eyes devouring
alluring yet deadly

[i think sometimes that you misunderstand me]
legs cross and lace falls
[or that you understand me too well]
you stare at the scar on her shoulder

her lesions make a filigree on your skin
as she places you in a crucible
and marinates in your company
[indulge me]
(consume me)
you churn and growl

the silent alleys are ageing
but still nails clash
but still skin mingles like an alloy
with blood dripping through the spaces of your teeth
you are gilded and raw

when she welds crevices into you with tempered phrases
her words are verdigris
and all you can ever breathe is her

–Maddie Gnam

Gros Morne

If I could write this ruddy mountain
As thinly as I see it

I would loll my arm into
The intimacies of people weaved

Ghost threads, cobwebs stretched
Frail across this sea

I would name each
Ligonberry and pretty meek boulder

With all the blunt spread
Of a colonial, or a tourist

My irreverence dulling the bloody
Colours of sugar my lips can’t define

But now the skies are swollen
With myself, I’m piercing

This land, my words
Clumsy raindrops.

–Keah Hansen

Salty moon

girl meets Girl
girl trips over the moon for Girl, but
Girl leaps through stars for another and, they somehow don’t collide
but girl imagines their universe
when she trips
and spins
back down
sees their own world of soft yellow
light, even as she sinks in damp earth
and salt
down down further down
girl tastes the sick sweet white light
of Girl on honeymoon with another
and their universe drifts
without sparks
somewhere far
far, so, so, very very



I ask my grandmother where she comes from
she says I stem from suitcases

I ask her who she comes from
she says I come from nomads

I take her hands into my own
And ask what the journey was like

She says the road is toughest when you’re on borrowed time

I ask her if she wants to rest
She says she’s never had the time

I wake up at dawn and sit next to her while she prays
She says God hears you better when the rest of the world is sleeping

So I ask, where does God come from
she says, God comes from women who spill their bodies to make room for us

I ask her of these women
She says soon I’ll be one of them

She rests her hand on the side of my cheek and says
Your mother was your first home

And now you pray to the East
Every time you bow your head
Heaven grows under her feet

I ask her if she enjoys poetry
she says I am her favourite poem

I ask if it’s because she helped write me into existence
she says I am the light in her eyes

I ask who she got her eyes from
She says she stole them from the boy next door

I ask her about her first love
She says she left it where she found it

so I trace her footsteps and follow her back to the village where she was conceived
and i marvel at her conception

She was made of her father’s hopes and her mother’s worries

They dreamed of a boy and she harboured that insecurity
she laced it with shortcomings and tied a perfect a bow on what could’ve been her

But she taught what it means to keeping moving on

Her life was not effortless and neither was her love


I ask her if she loves me
And she says, enough to step out onto the road again

–Khatira Mahdavi



I am three years old and my skyline is a soft blue

with your head a halo against the sun

I shut one eye and gaze at you through the other

a cloud of hair on top of a man

Who tethers his love to balloons

You bent down to lift me

And I thought to myself how foolish is the sky to leave you all to me

–Khatira Mahdavi

Lying to your mother is something
you knew instinctively
at 13, and remembered with hell in your head
at 21.

The moon pale as a rib. Houseful of adults and their languages.
Where were they when you pondered bleach at 14?

At the counselor’s you smiled hard
with half of your face. Tea leaves swirl
then settle. One time when you were eight

your mother picked you up from school.
In the car your tears hot enough
to brew tea with. If you behave this way again, I will –

You felt your shoulders turn in, and in, and in.
Cute. Compact. You are the girl-child
your mother never wanted.

–Coco Zhou


Dusk, a lake: where Girl was last seen.
A Girl with brains of beryl, lung of wool.

How did she get here. Whose.
It was the year children learned to swim.
A litter of them, by the lake. Find her

at the edge of slumber. Brains & lung.
Washed out & stretched. Every fish
that swims by throws away its voice.

–Coco Zhou

My belly
Is swollen
with the pain I hold for you
It sits, bloated, between the wet raw flesh of my organs
And it
expands between my ribs
with every

that I take.
I cater to it deftly
Careful not to burst its taut skin
With the soft strokes of
My straying thoughts.

On days where the pain
Sits neatly
Amongst my other organs,
I hold my breath
Careful not to move too quickly.
At home in the body

Of a soul rubbed raw
The pain has started to feel
Like my natural landscape.

On other days it begins to bloat
Seeping out into the dark,
Damp folds of my flesh
And as the storm begins to rage,
My skin
Serves only as a boundary
That contains the violent thoughts
That seek to contort
My muscles
Rip through the flesh
That used to sustain me.
That flesh is now a part
Of the pain
What once was my body
Is left, deserted, on my bedroom floor.

– Anonymous