Vol. 1, Issue 1
To whom it may concern,
I began The Asexual in October 2016 with some concerns, regarding both my limited experience as well as whether anyone would submit to this journal, yet remained hopeful. I have since been overwhelmed with the response, having now received a varied collection of poems, prose, personal essays, and more from writers who identify under the ace umbrella. Some of these writings are included in the subsequent pages of this first issue in addition to a short piece by myself. I would like to thank everyone who has submitted their beautiful words for this debut issue as well as anyone who has supported the journal on social media and elsewhere. I aspire to continue this project and develop it further in the future.
With love and appreciation,
We all have flaws and weak knees.
For me, it is in the man’s arms,
his face, his chest, his hair,
but never his penis, if he were to even have one.
It may as well be a snake.
Are snakes that small?
and they are much more beautiful.
Dick pics are such a turn-off.
Let my man be clothed,
For I could love only as best as I could,
to be classified as incomplete,
either from hatred or pity,
some sorry form of recognition.
Most often though it is just nothing.
“You’re just gay.”
“You’re just a faggot.”
I’ll show you a faggot.
Michael Paramo is a queer non-binary asexual Latinx master's student in California. Their academic work has been accepted for presentation at national conferences, such as by the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association as well as the U.S. branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. Their research interests include queer studies, intersectional approaches, media representation, romantic attraction, gender identity, and asexuality. They also deeply enjoy the pleasure that music brings into their life.
I have no desire
for a thing or being.
I have contemplated in solitude
and meditated on my body
to direct desire
words, objects, and bodies
yet my body seeks only death
like silent water in the night
gazing at the stars
wary of the day’s pollution
the washer man's obscene
touch and the nakedness
invading the sphere
all over me.
There is no thing
that you can grasp
your own ground.
You may move around
your senses like
a hand grasping
the other body through
beyond the body
lies what you may
living or dead.
I, a (wo)man, splurge
my inner blood
and mucus onto the
sheath of reality
to show you that
Man bleeds without
the body burns
without any fire.
Shunya Ta is a non-binary demi-sexual being who resides in the city of Calcutta on the east coast of India. They spend their time reading, writing, and contemplating about a future world.
Listen for the rustle; was it a bear in the forest?
Or it could have simply been the air in the forest
Lay down your burdens.
Let everything lay bare in the forest.
Whisper to me, love, and to no one else
Let no one hear your prayer in the forest.
“Sometimes, the King is a woman”
A woman with shining gold hair in the forest.
See the nymphs play! Watch them run!
Running without a care in the forest.
Go no further - listen, you fool!
Do you not hear that blare in the forest?
And the blood ran red through the trees
Worse than those four mares in the forest.
There, in the dark, lay a ring
Where Queen Mab makes her chair in the forest.
Tread with soft and velvet steps
His Grace alone keeps you, heir, in the forest.
Amanda Amos is a young writer who desperately wishes to not starve upon graduation. An adamant short story writer, she's been peer pressured into giving poetry one last chance to make it work before she retires into the seclusion of character arcs forever. As a writer of short stories, however, she has always been quite prolific within modern fantasy and magical realism, having sold out from the idealistic high fantasy of her youth. Life comes at you fast.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first Pride parade. I wasn’t afraid of protestors or getting lost in Portsmouth where brick was worn down by my sneakers and the salt of New Hampshire water. On that day rust brick was painted rainbow. People dressed in vibrant colors, hugging new friends that became family within a few words.
I sat on the sidelines. Desaturated in black, white, gray, and purple. The colors of the asexual flag.
I had heard other asexual people were attending, but this was an event of hundreds within the LGBTQIA+ community that flooded the streets. They overflowed palms, spilling onto land while the few asexuals clung to the breakers.
There were videos of acephobia at Pride parades, the cold shoulder, language lit by low heat burners, always saying “you don’t belong” with silence. Don’t acknowledge their presence. Don’t acknowledge their identity. Don’t acknowledge their correctional rape. Don’t acknowledge their denial of healthcare, or adoption, or everything the LGBTQIA+ community hungers for too. Don’t say asexual out loud, because that would mean validation.
The program shook in my hand as I stared at the acronym, LGBTQA; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and ally. Already so many identities lost in translation, but ally had become a slap to my face. My cheeks were purple with the bruise of “ally.” Allies. Allies. Allies. Even during the speeches, they never said it. Asexual.
When one speaker listed, more hope stung my chest, nonbinary, genderfluid, and I waited. But there it was again. Ally. How many of the people here said, “I belong, I’m an ally! I know lots of gay people!” Some of them don’t take the colors. They sit and listen, know when to be silent and when to use their privilege to advocate. But the ones at Pride wear rainbows in symbols of support and rip them from their bodies the next day. They don’t bleed the colors.
The only booth that mentioned my orientation by name was a church with a small graph that listed “know your flag.” And there they were, my flag listed the word Asexual bold for those who looked the other way. I took a rainbow flag from them, visited twice, lingered there like a seagull waiting for a flock, for others with the same hunger.
But I carried a smile that strained ink. If I just drank the weight of that word in its frequency I would fall into the sea just a few blocks away. My friends placed hands on my shoulders, both wearing the rainbows of the gay community they belonged to with empathetic, “I know.” Neither of them were asexual, but they knew how it hurt. No excuses, no apologies, only exhaustion.
It’s exhaustion from lifting and scraping the bottom of the barrel from the outside; it is where barnacles and clams nest, invisible. I am not silent with the metal tools in my hand. I eat them raw and consume what little I can scrounge. I want to devour the word Ally like I consume mussels and clams. I want to heat water with rage, rip open who they are and sink my teeth into what they take from asexual people.
I picked at mussels with my fork in a restaurant when it ended, silent because I wondered how many allies slipped inside. They wear rainbows in symbols of support and rip them from their bodies the next day, wash the brine away. They don’t bleed the colors.
I’ve learned that anger is much stronger than placid silence. People believe the ocean to be safe until the tide swallows them whole and smashes their bodies against the breakers. When they say ally, I scream asexual, yell my lungs raw until the alveoli pop inside my body. I wonder when those allies open me with a scalpel if they will unleash a tidal wave, or a hurricane.
Shannon O. Sawyer is a graduate from the New Hampshire Institute of Art with her BFA in Creative Writing. She has edited the 2015 and 2016 edition of Ayris Magazine, has works published in Cartoons Underground, The Fem, and Quail Bell Magazine. She is currently a scriptwriter for the audio drama podcast, Jim Robbie and the Wanderers and works as an intern for the Cambridge Writing Workshop. In her spare time she enjoys drawing, watching cartoons, being an angry asexual, and screaming at heteronormative books in her local book stores.
bright eyes work like rock salt
it snakes in past the glassy layer
it’s an expensive kind of fear
it hinges on somebody else’s hurt
your pollination is convincing
honey still won’t dissolve the slick
the others slipped
the others bruised
I don’t think I can catch you
yes my stomach was churning not a crush it was
you loved me I couldn’t see like you (I still can’t see why)
I’m not an angel not a saint so why am I your girl?
stay here with my cups of ambition and
try not to fall
I remember the first time you kissed me, leaving a
pink lipstick mark I rubbed off with a cupped hand
full of water.
I didn’t want your print didn’t want it didn’t want you
at least not the way you wanted me
to chase away your hallucinogenic baby ghosts
did you leave because I couldn’t see like you did?
I could’ve failed you and never known and
that’s what haunts me the most like you’re
haunted by whatever (I truly don’t remember)
Moira Armstrong is a junior at Howland High School, where she enjoys stressing over honors classes & extracurriculars. Her favorite is the speech and debate team, where she competes in original oratory and serves as president. In her very limited free time, she likes to volunteer, color, and, of course, write. Her work has also been published in the Power of the Pen Book of Winners, two Creative Communications Poetry Collections, and Blue Marble Review.
It wasn't because they loved each other. On the contrary, they seemed to be indifferent to one another. No one could quite understand what had brought them together as a couple, not even the two persons themselves.
This convinced both sides of the family to object to the marriage. That, and such a couple as them, who barely knew each other, could not possibly be paired up. And so the couple solved the problem: they eloped.
Very shortly afterwards, the husband left for the war. The wife didn't mind. She often preferred to be left alone. It only gave her more freedom to pursue her dreams of entering the workforce.
No fancy wedding. No honeymoon.
No first night together.
The husband returned to the country. He had received an injury in the battlefield, said the letter.
And so she cared for him. Provided him with the necessities: bandaging, food, and so on. She also made certain he was assisted in his healing, and she helped him learn to walk again.
It was the first time she had truly held him in her arms. It was the first time she truly realized that they were a married couple living under the same roof. Surely he felt the same way.
The year passed quickly. When he was able to walk again, she then decided to leave by herself, and she told him so. She would be traveling to Africa as a missionary. He had had his chance to get away. Now it was her turn.
It was when she was departing that she realized they had still not shared their first night together.
She returned home by boat. She was greeted by a man carrying a bouquet.
Because that was what married couples did. The husband would greet the wife with a bouquet. Especially after such a long trip.
She approached him, took the bouquet, and gave him a hug. They hadn't kissed since the day they had eloped.
But he spoke to her, told her how his new publishing house was going. She, in turn, shared how her life as a missionary was: an exploration of a new place, a new life of its own, and an adventure to cherish. Maybe she didn't promote her religion as much as she was informed to, but the new place was enough to excite her.
Once she arrived at home, she noticed that they now had a king-sized bed. Not two separate beds. She took one side, he took another.
They shared the bed, but not the night.
After a few weeks of sharing the same bed, her husband finally asked her, "Are you sure you don't want to?"
She shook her head. "I'm sure."
Opposite sides of the same bed. A married couple bound by day.
But not by night.
One night, months later, she finally crawled to his side. "Can we do it?"
A pause. Then he nodded. "Sure."
The first night they shared together ended in their falling asleep in each other's arms.
Their first night felt like their last. Afterwards, they shared the same bed, but not each other.
The husband's business grew, reaching thousands of customers daily. The wife began studying for a new degree. Their days were often so occupied that they rarely saw one another. One of the only times they truly saw each other was at the dinner table, when they sat across from each other slowly munching on their food. And then the bed came shortly afterward, when they shared the same bed but not the night.
It was then he announced he would have to make a lengthy business trip to another country. He would return soon, he assured her. She nodded in consent.
He left again.
She found out he had been arrested on the accusation that he was a spy.
She did not know what to make of it. She only inquired to see if it was true. Most said, "no."
It took months to recover him, but soon he was finally freed. It was then she took up the courage to ask, "Is it true?"
It took him a moment. Then he nodded.
She placed her hands on either cheek. He smiled at her, tears in his eyes. She smiled a sad one in return, indicating understanding.
She was invited to her father's funeral. She and her husband came. The priest blessed the empty carcass her father had left behind. She and her husband bowed their heads in response.
It was after the funeral that her mother asked them, "Why did you defy our wishes?"
"It was our choice," the wife protested.
"It was your act of defiance that killed him."
"How could that be? We married twenty years ago. If he had died then, I would believe that," the husband retorted.
Her mother huffed and waltzed away, leaving the wife to her own thoughts.
Twenty years. How could so much time have passed? Was this how all married couples were like? Did it feel as strange to them as it did to her? Twenty years had come and gone, yet she still did not know whether or not she even loved her husband. Or if he loved her at all.
They returned home, holding hands.
As if their love was true.
But was it?
He prepared her a special dinner. He shifted uneasily between his feet, saying, "Thank you for being with me all of these years."
She smiled in return. "Thank you too."
They ate together. They shared the bed together.
They shared the night together.
It was cancer.
He didn't have much longer to live, the doctor said, so live it well.
Their fingers curled in each other's, hands intertwined as the wife responded, "He will be well cared for. He will live a joyous life till the end."
She prepared one last vacation for them, this time to South America.
He grew far more ill shortly after their return home over a year later. She continued to care for him in his illness.
Things got worse one day. The couple found themselves at the hospital.
The doctor said he didn't have much longer.
While lying in his bed one day, he finally asked her the question the two of them had pondered their whole lives, "Do you love me?"
She smiled and clasped his hands in her own. She replied, "I love you.” Pause. Then, “But not in the way you may think."
A small smile grew on his lips.
"Do you love me too?"
But he didn't answer.
His eyes had closed for the last time.
Maribel C. Pagan has appeared or is forthcoming in Every Day Fiction, The Stray Branch, Moledro, and others. She has received the Junior Reading Giants Award, has made the President's List in Mohawk Valley Community College, and others. Additionally, she is the host of The Maddie Show on WLMU Radio, and a singer and musician for The Angelic Family Choir, a family singing group that has appeared on EWTN Global Radio Network. You can find out more about Maribel at http://therollinghills.wordpress.com/
In a week, the squirrel was dead or maybe it was another squirrel but dying is what it did. At least this one did.
It’s what happens. Dying. It’s going to die. This one and that one. Be dead. Being dead. But, first, the dying happens. It happened to it. Maybe it happened within a week. Maybe it was another it. But, it died. It was dead.
Day in. Day out. Day in. Day out.
Same cigarette to the lips. Same time. Same place.
A human clock for the work week.
All converge here for some reason, one would venture to guess.
Reasonably, paths cross. Path can run parallel but these haven’t.
Strength has been stolen from what’s been decided.
On paper, other worries were left out of this fight.
Devotion and hunger ravage gifts. Loyalty stalls.
Blessings waste away as stimulation disappears.
In the swamp. In the sand. Sinking. Lost.
A wall will never be a sanctuary.
But smoke may be a refuge.
Some sense to be made in consuming.
Kenyatta JP Garcia is the author of Slow Living (West Vine Press) as well Yawning on the Sands and This Sentimental Education. They are a poet and humorist originally from Brooklyn, NY but currently live in Albany, NY. When they're not writing, they're consumed by comic books and contemplating the many possibilities of speculative literature. One day, they hope they'll make enough money to become a cyborg, but until then, they'll just dream.
Oh, sorry! You didn’t see me here.
But that’s okay, because nobody notices normal.
Nobody thinks to ask “Hey, are you…” No. You’d rather assume.
And whilst you’re making an ass out of you, I remain unnoticed. Unknown.
Invisible in my own home because what could be worse than being unknown?
So there you all are, homogenised in your heteronormativity, and you see me - except you don’t.
Not really. You see what you want to see. A young man. Set free. Exploring romantic activity.
And with women as well! Oh, how swell! Let’s not dwell on the fact that not once did he desire a sexual act.
No, not once did he cast that there line out to sea nor step foot in the waters of sexuality.
But of course, how could he? He’s been raised in a man-praising, slut-shaming, sex-crazy society!
Where the highest form of art is bare-naked nudity and the highest form of pleasure is triple X-rated pornography.
During puberty, young boys are taught that if they cannot think with their heads, then they should think with their heads.
And that piss is not the only thing with which they’ll wet the bed. Whether it be TV and movies, or their hordes of male friends,
or the billboards that are plastered with ladies’ rear ends, young boys are taught that their penis comes first.
If those are the base standards for manhood, then you can go ahead and crown me the worst.
You might tell me it’s a matter of pride. That if I’m feeling erased then I should carve my face into stone.
That I’m not alone.
That there is a whole community out there waiting for me, arms open wide. L.G.B.T.Q.A PRIDE!!
But don’t forget! The A stands for Ally.
And why are you looking at girls when you’re a guy? You don’t belong here. You’re not really queer. You’re just after the attention.
These people complain about having to fight for their right to party when I have to fight for my right to be a part of the party in which the celebration of a win is a kiss which I would not miss if I missed.
No, I insist.
Tell me again how I should enlist in an army which denies I exist.
After all, if I’m heard and not seen, then my problems don’t matter, and I should be grateful for how lucky that makes me.
Is it really so bad when the invisible man asks to be seen?
Is it so absurd that there could be people out there who don’t find themselves concerned with that most primal urge when with every other word, they are the boy who is begging to be heard?
Oh, sorry! You didn’t see me here. But that’s okay, because nobody ever sees the invisible.
Gregory Morrison is a Literature student at the University of Salford. He first realised he was asexual at sixteen years old, and has spent the four years since that point wondering just what the big deal is anyway. His family describe him as “the weird one”. His friends describe him as “a real life vampire”. He describes himself as “a pretentious nerd who tries way too hard”. When he isn’t reading superhero comics or writing poetry, he can be found making videos for his YouTube channel ThatGingerBrit
All works published are original work by the authors. Owner retains copyright of work upon publication, but agrees to give The Asexual first serial/electronic rights, and electronic archival rights. Owner also agrees that if the work is published subsequently, either online or in print, credit to The Asexual is provided. For more information on submissions visit: TheAsexual.com
Photography by Michael Paramo.