Photograph by Aditya Vikram

I storm out of my house, burning, and claim the street. My body, a blotch of scarlet against the unyielding night sky. Arms flailing like flames. All wick and no shadow. A queer set ablaze. Still breathing. They come to visit this spectacle from the other side of the street, punctuate my screams with the flashes of their camera. Tricks they must have learnt in a zoo for the first time - don't look them in the eyes and keep your distance. They press me into mute squares for display. Thirty days of trendy in their yearly cliché. “Androgynous man dancing in flames” a photograph with their name stamped at the bottom of the pane. And a few keywords to sanctify all my grief – Bravery, read there was violence. Freedom, read they escaped a slaughter. Visibility, read this is an advertisement. I will steal my images from the walls and set them on fire. Vandalize their frames with the obituaries of my people, carve our names over photographs. My people, whose bodies were their crimes. My people, who couldn't run in time. My people, who burned bright like stars above bleak skylines.

Aditya Vikram (he/they) is a queer poet and spoken word artist. They spend their Sundays writing and dancing on the terrace of a rented house in Lucknow, India. They won the Kommune National Story Slam last year, and have performed at several other regional and national festivals. Their work is published or upcoming in Verse of Silence, The Lamp-Lit Parchments, Din Dhalay anthology, and others.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, poetry, and creative nonfiction from marginalized creators.