Literary Orphans

“outdated,” “exoskeleton,” and “demon” by Uma Menon


/ every time the wind opens its

mouth / the pages of the calendar

fly / anti-gravitational forces whisper

melodies / into the hearts of days /

long gone /

/ celebrating the past forewarns

the future / time functions in reverse

chronological order / nostalgia dies /

when the wind stops breathing /

/ she tells me there are two

differences / between growing

young / and growing old / but

she won’t tell me what they are /

/ she celebrates your one-hundredth

birthday on the day you were born /

they’ll both come one day / someday /

anyways /

/ don’t waste time marking calendars /

she says / they’ll fly away / days

before your birth / you will never

see them /

O Typekey Divider


peel away flesh that grows on trees

so that you can wear it. the thing that

crawls on your skin has gone under so

now you can never escape. sometimes

fruit never fully ripens because the peel

hardens too quickly. salt is ripped away

from your skin: scars remain where flesh

will never return like half the fruits that

you never stomached. that empty feeling?

that’s where they say they all lived before

you began to shed. the ocean is your mother.

tree flesh has an expiration date but fashion has

a longer shelf life than the exoskeleton that

you wear to interviews. soon, it will fall away

and leave you with bones, no flesh. red patches

will still be stuck to the marrow. the off-white

suits you, but you look for a new suit. maybe

the thing that crawls under your skin will lend you some.

O Typekey Divider


when the sun rises i feel you

writhing under my skin.

red suits you, there’s no need

to wear it under your skin but

i want to discourage you;

the same way you push me

into abandon buildings that i

won’t call home.

the day summer comes i

need you to leave; ghost town

isn’t for you nor me.

war paint for you

is ink that faded away

before it touched you. every

time i see the ocean i

imagine you sinking as she

swallows you whole. roses

that wither in your hand bloom

inside my throat. breathe,

swallow, savor the taste of

defeat. it isn’t new.

when the sun sets i feel you

sinking under my teeth.

O Typekey Divider

Uma Menon is a fifteen-year-old student and writer from Winter Park, FL. Her writing has appeared in Dark River Review, Ms. Magazine, and Borgen Magazine, among others. Her first chapbook was published with Zoetic Press in January 2019. Uma is also a nationally-ranked Lincoln-Douglas Debater and activist for marginalized groups.

O Typekey Divider

–Art by Chelsea Sturgill