Flower studies. Attributed to Muhammad Khan, 1630–33.


Today I am empty, fasting till sundown:

returned to the God I frequently abandon.

Lilies on the dining table,
in the glass vase          full of
water              and light:

vulgar and huge like       open mouths
fuzzy        and wet walled      inside
dripping         thick clear fluid       from globular stigmas.

Still alive, how        warm scent throbs   in the air:

almost sickly sweet
not even           sweet without          performance
without        campy
femininity              a touch of drag.

Original illustration by Anne Le Guern

Some fetal vaginas      turn

inside out like socks             and put their
nerve      endings out in the          world and
dangle.        Sunflowers    make seeds
way after their heads can’t turn to the sun anymore.
But I live        like I do        sit on my root
chakra    all day         blocking air
from what could be         an open
mouth        fuzzy and wet
walled              inside        filling the room
with sickly              sweet scent.


My mouth edges with soft drool.

My hunger doesn’t         catalyze into
anger      anymore but          I fear
its sly home in       the            vellus hair
on the back         of my neck.

I only want to be less alone.

Even         hunger fills
empty space            like I’m hollowed out
like my walls can meet       my walls

So I also know stigmas     I was named aurat
Urdu for woman       Arabic for shame

Original illustration by Anne Le Guern


Lace smothers     my holes       hard

wires   hold soft     flesh           purple

pencil  to line  brown eyes      orange

concealer   green      acne cover-up      little

bows    on   every fucking   thing      all lingerie

comes with   tiny fucking


all my lovers

at some point admit

they like me better



Sunflowers nod three feet      above my head

Silly swollen faces            Engorged      like my future       breasts    if it turns out    I’ve been

fertile all along   despite   despite   despite      like these fools with no arms

whose heads are gonna fall       Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me           I’m embarrassed

I think I’ll die   or burst out laughing    they look so silly

desperate      to give, give



I want, still.     Fingers in the back of my throat

the smell of latex to manifest     on my tongue

vaginas are    built with a closed end

nothing passes   through    till it’s pulled    pulled out

against the walls  their clench     and drag

Unlike the other hole      that came before everything

continues to the mouth   empty     but both ends

lined with taste buds

Dure Ahmed

Dure Ahmed is an immigrant writer from Pakistan. Currently an MFA student at the University of Arizona, they have work appearing in ANMLY, Black Warrior Review, and Berkeley Poetry Review, among others.