Shapeless Skin | The New Engagement

Shapeless Skin

By Travis Chi Wing Lau
Shapeless Skin story art


A series of plagiarisms:
for sweat is derivative,
the salt of labors layered
(so frank that it turns
its aching back away from
the eye in all its nakedness).
It writes in forgeries,
the already-said
of body-mind,
möbiusing itself
like he who learns
the unbearability
of his own touch.

closure –
the breathing
of a fleshworld
in its fullness


Epistle to the Body in Pain

I am amazed, body, that you have
not buckled into ruins,
you who bear with
the manifold
impressions that
become wholly
different marks
when given the
proper conditions.

Damnable gestation,
this thing called stigma:
repeated strikings because
the word is so much like a lash.


Mark my
steps aleatory:
ippo, ippo
so unlike
the gliding
I was taught
by staff.
Yet I still
dare to long,
to crave a
place in the
even if there
may be none so
shaped like me.


Epistle to the Body in Pain and Ippo first appeared in Queen Mob's Teahouse.

Travis Chi Wing Lau is a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Department of English. His research interests include eighteenth and nineteenth-century British literature, the history of medicine, disability studies. His academic writing has been published in Journal of Homosexuality, Romantic Circles, and English Language Notes (forthcoming). His creative writing has appeared in Atomic, Feminine Inquiry, Wordgathering, Assaracus, Rogue Agent, and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology.

Join Us!

Mercy, ingenuity, nuance, complex truths, guts and honor still matter! Join us in proclaiming so by purchasing, or giving the gift of, The New Engagement in print.

Order Today!

Follow Us

"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive."
~ James Baldwin

Help us spread the ethos of compassion and understanding by joining our social media networks and sharing generously!

Contests & Prizes

Flash Fiction Contest
On May 1st, we announced the winners of our Flash Fiction Contest: Thomas Garcia (1st), Rick Krizman (2nd), and Rios de la Luz (3rd). Read more.

The James Baldwin Literature Prize
It is with great pleasure that we announce the winner of The James Baldwin Literature Prize of $1,000 to Hafsa Musa. Read more.

The New Engagement

The New Engagement endeavors a novel approach to discovering, introducing, and showcasing writers, artists, and filmmakers, by providing them digital and print platforms, while encouraging and supporting their social-consciousness.