There Is Strength in Our Stories: a night’s expectation – quinn hsu

when they told you people would love
you for who you are
you never expected

a love for you as squirmingly as
your tongue against the mirror
shards of porcelain hemming it in

a love as fast and bitingly as
a bear trap’s chrome jaws
tearing at you desperately

until all that’s left is
a cavern for ruinous words
so you pull it open

and someday
you’ll figure out the secret to peeling
yourself inside out

but today you only reveal
a writhing tongue and
your own set of enamel jaws

but what else did you expect?

quinn is a transmasculine nonbinary artist who hopes to reach others by telling his experiences through the filter of pictures and poems. his work speaks openly about sexual assault and mental health as well as their interconnectivity, in hopes that others who are going through the same experiences feel they are not alone in their thoughts, and so that those who are not going through them may understand and empathize more.

There Is Strength in Our Stories: Ruby – LL McGlynn

No matter what she said, or what solution she came up with, he blew it off, as if nothing she could say would ever make sense. Her comments were not logical to him, the rational one, and nothing she could say would ever help the situation not even in the smallest way, which is exactly how she felt. Bent over the counter, hands outstretched, gripping the sink, she felt his piranha chew through her at incredible speed. She closed in on it. Close enough to smell last night’s left-overs. Grey is many things, but it is not a state of mind. Once one falls victim to it, the whole house is all sixes and sevens.

Hence, it began… again. That feeling of uselessness wrapping ‘round and ‘round that kept everything nice and tight. The empty greyness of which she now accommodates, speaks quietly to her in a gnawing tone of resentment. It helps itself to a little piece of her each day, until she is no one, and yet anyone, who is not Ruby. It happens to all of us at some point. For Alice, it was the day when she caught a glimpse of it in the bedroom mirror. A mangy, wet sponge had usurped the perfectly formed peach that once resided there.

The grey is not a color, like the bright red Santa sack that fills her socket. It isn’t even purgatory which would be a welcome reprieve right about now. No, the grey is not any of those things. It is merely a scene from an old classic film, black and white, where their mouths move but nothing comes out. But it will all be ok, because just as the lamb was taken to the cold, stainless-steel table and offered up on Mt Moriah, the sun came out.

McGlynn is a Visual Artist and Writer, currently living in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario. She is a graduate of History from Western University, and a Fine Art Honours graduate with distinction from the University of Waterloo. As an emerging Artist, McGlynn challenges her studio and writing practice by pushing beyond the comfort zone, and to accept what the work is destined to become. She enjoys collaborative projects such as her recent obsession, MOTUS.

There Is Strength in Our Stories: walk these streets at night and know the truth – Evelyn Benvie

load your lipstick in a gatling gun
to get ready for the night

the sidewalk cracks are too wide for stilettos
and too deep for anything else

wear fishnets to trawl the river, sift and dredge
the filth at the bottom and the scum at the top

and you, panting as you run
seeking shelter on a rainy night and finding only

reaching hands and open legs
inviting you to places you don’t want to go

the city at night is no longer beautiful
or maybe it never was

Evelyn Benvie is the wooly jumper in a family of black sheep. Both a cynic and a romantic at heart, she writes diverse, queer-positive fiction and poetry that have been published online and in print. Her first novella, Something to Celebrate, was recently published by Mischief Corner Books. Find out more at or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

There Is Strength in Our Stories: The Gift- aj forrester

Like a raft I float
on vicious waves
with what you gave;

you stole.

Made me less
made me more.
You gave confusion and shame.


The gift remains:
in me, I found
Like fire hardens steel,
nightmares burn my heart,

my brain.

I strain;
I’d give it back, though,
if I could;
this gift you shoved
down my throat.

Amanda J. Forrester received her MFA from the University of Tampa. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Azahares Spanish Language Literary Magazine, Pink Panther Magazine, Collective Unrest, Trailer Park Quarterly, and other anthologies and journals. Follow her @ajforrester75

There Is Strength in Our Stories: Rubber Gloves – Taylor Warner

Today I stumbled over a page in my journal
that read:

“One day I will write about
your rubber gloves
And how each time they entered me
They delivered desperate hope
And how every time they exited me
They took with them a piece of my soul
I thought I’d never get back.”

Well, here I am,
speaking my truths,
moving the words etched in memories
from my brain
to my mouth
in hopes that the pain of you will float away
with the words as they are spoken aloud,
lost syllables in the wind

So, here are the words
I choose to move on from you with:

I do not hate you
I pity you
I am not angry
I am sorrowful

I do not wish I never met you
For I would have never grown

Because I never believed in love
until I met you
And I never believed in the devil
until you put your hands on me

Taylor was born a Texan but now roams the world writing her truths and finding peace in the small things. Taylor began writing poetry at the early age of 8 and her words have been the one constant in her life through everything. Taylor writes her truths. The raw, the beautiful, the obscene. She hopes to heal others through her stories as she heals herself. You can find more of her @commasandcuriosity.

There Is Strength in Our Stories: Double Dip – kkc

I told old man in the white uniform with cherry stains on it
that I didn’t want his flavor he was about to scoop.
So he scooped it anyway.

His words to me were
” little girl, you will taste what I dish out”

Shoved cone in my face
Salty tears slid down landing on his confection
Told me keep taking more
I gagged on bitter taste which violated my throat

Peddler pushed harder
“Eat every last drop, do not stop”

Wiped off my face full of stickiness
Ran from that place
Told whoever would listen
They laughed and said
” next time you should order a pizza”

Anger marched me back to vendor man
It was I that pushed his head into his
cold frozen cart
and ordered
“You will taste what I dish out!”

Kimberly Cunningham has published three books, “Undefined,” “Sprinkles on Top,” and “Smooth Rough Edges,” in addition to 28 published pieces of work. It is her belief that each one should teach one. Find her at

There Is Strength in Our Stories: 37: perpetual victim – Katharine Love

be quiet. be quiet.
i told you –

be quiet!

you are weird. you are ugly. you are strange.
be normal. be pretty. be happy.

always be nice. always say thank- you, even if you
aren’t grateful, especially if you aren’t grateful.

take it – you deserve it – you are a feral thing.
don’t act like an animal. act like a good girl.

act like a good girl.

marry well. marry wealth. marry a man.
money is important. power is important. love is irrelevant.

he yells? so did mine.
he hits? so did mine.

you deserve to be choked –
you are making me mad –
you did this to me –
i should die if I’m lying.

i have friends, you don’t.
i am right, you aren’t.

be like me – perpetual victim.

Katharine Love is a psychotherapist and poet. Her poems have been featured in several anthologies. Katharine has just finished her first book, a memoir called ‘The Lesbian Chronicles’.

There Is Strength in Our Stories: Poem for RJ – Bina Ruchi Perino

You smile, emerald pepper in hand, and you shrink me
into a single consonant, a controlled identity, the Beta.

B — her throat is the steel kettle on your electric stovetop,
simmering and boiling and compressed — she is trapped
in a Stockholm prison, where you peel apart her threads.
July is a blister, a heatwave dancing over asphalt, and B
says no until the word is a sound without meaning.
She swallows, eyes closed, mouth seared to numbness.

You buy B a subscription to National Geographic to hold
her down, another reason to be grateful dressed in a selfless

narrative, and the summer salt sits on her tongue when
the solstice weans into autumn. November, she drops

the magazines at your door, she’s itching at the throat you
forced yourself inside. B, she’s weaving her threads back

together. You know she won’t say anything, that B is
simmering and boiling and compressed — I am trapped.

Bina Ruchi Perino is a post-baccalaureate student at the University of North Texas, seeking a Bachelor of Arts in English, Creative Writing. She lives in Denton with her dog Maya. Her work has appeared in The North Texas Review, The Nassau Review, Sonder Midwest, Royal Rose, and other places. She is a survivor of sexual assault.


There Is Strength in Our Stories: bewitching hour – Tianna G. Hansen

after Effy Winter

Tonight you plant a curse. Find the recipe from a love witch

 —  black garden curse jar.

Place your wounds inside, direct pain on the one who birthed it. A relief spell, enchantment of the heart capturing sorrows, stabbing like knives through the veins of the one who caused your ache. Mix wormwood and dried thistle, poppy seeds and calamus root — thorns from a white rose. Name of your unbeloved charred to bits at the bottom of a glass jar. Sprinkle black salt and bury beneath layers of dirt. Toss caution to the wind, allow hatred to spill from your mouth like black sludge oozing from your tongue, up from the twistings of your gut. It spews into the jar and coats like tar. Collection of iron nails, pointed and sharp, glimmer in flickers of candlelight. These to be pressed in the dirt facing downward — nails in the coffin of this curse.

Complete under light of the moon — midnight.

He will be sleeping then. His name shall never rise in joy upon your lips; he knew that. Envision torment you wish the curse to bring. Seal lid tight when prepared.

Never open again.

Shake contents to stir chaos upon your intended. Cleanse yourself after. Release inhibitions in body wracking sobs while water scalds your skin. Drown the noise of yourself. Burn sage. Ounce of caution at the end.

Curses are not to be done or taken lightly.

This one promises, crafted for victims of assault/rape…you will take back power, release this trauma, this misery upon your abuser. Magic.

The intention behind this spell is to inflict chaos
and misfortune upon the target.

You wish with every ounce of your being that he will feel one scratch of your agony.

*previous versions of this appeared in Pussy Magic

Tianna G. Hansen has been writing her whole life. She founded and is Editor-in-Chief of Rhythm & Bones Press, a small press focused on the idea of healing through writing. She believes there is always something beautiful to be found in the darkest moments. Her work has been published widely in many forms; find it at, follow her on Facebook @tiannaghansen / Twitter @tiannag92 / Instagram @tgghansen24. “Undone, Still Whole” is her debut collection.