Reasons to Hold On is a poetry and photography collaboration of Nitin Rai Chaudhary with Anesce Dremen. Anesce Dremen is a bilingual nomad from the U.S. who writes poetry, creative nonfiction, translation, and fiction. She is often found with a tea cup in hand, traveling between the U.S., China, and India; currently, she is editing her debut novel.

Reasons to Hold On



Rustled fears anchor as I avoid confronting my body.
Soundless distractions plead for wrinkled departure
as inflamed hands shield a lifelong tapestry
of dreams denied for molten survival.



Cacophony of erasure ascends forsaken limbs:
You fabricated your own misery.
You don’t deserve to gaze skywards.
You were never meant to survive.



The story I conceal is caged within my eyes.
Persistent persuasion evoked framed laughter.
Composition of loneliness constructed a
metronome of regurgitated metaphors: naive.

To Hold On


I shredded fingertips to collect reasons to live.
Resented miscarriages of inferior ink
salvaged vines of choking solidarity.
Names forge a cocoon arresting immediate flight.



My vulnerability is devoid of joy.
My pleasure is performative:
an arched back collects scars
seeking temples flung over dismantled desire.



I wasn’t yet ready to tell my story.
Unwavering eyes safeguard my thread of deceit.
Expired entertainment protected introspection
conceiving a crescent of crimson demand: flee!



Kindness conquered me in the suffocation of safety.
Whittled soul, blame asphyxiated tolerance for violence.
A grave’s promise warm by comparison — sh —
signature of silence; I feared my own voice.



I regretted the resilience which hoarded me for so long
and willed this life away, this tampered conception.
Suicide’s allure was a lullaby I couldn’t memorize aloud.
Don’t teach me how to survive my darkest nights.



Pulsations of hope persist in a painted smile.
My lifeline throbs in poses to indulge society—
tilted head and subtle silences pruned to perfection.
I’ve preserved my life to complete another’s to-do list.



Steadfast bark is kinder than my mother’s embrace;
her ceaseless breathing kindled submission.
Convinced I was unworthy of love, age 15, a teacher
pierced fermented self-hatred: “I’m proud of you.”



Brittle resistance: first I must free myself.
Certainly, I am weak: constitution of her disdain.
Breaking bondage, constructing curtains —
I dare challenge your cloudy postage.

Sordid Shame


Worthlessness is nestled in the fiber of my posture.
I carved my belonging in scars neatly tucked away.
Can you witness their stagnant glisten in the wind’s rustle —
a refusal to smile. I’ll stand when instructed to sit like a lady.



Nightmares were safer than the promise of waking.
If only I could inhabit the shadow of a bleeding tree.
Devoid of dreams, I sought guardianship in hiding as
I couldn’t relinquish desire to exhale my last breath.

To Record


Writing convicted my survival: a sentence abjured.
Mediocre words assembled an illusion
of escape to bypass another regrettable day.
Lacuna silences evoked an inevitable endurance.



Lyrics interspace intention; I compose to mourn my sister.
Streams of fiction distract recurring death wishes.
I write both to preserve and forget you,
commitment to my craft abandoned.



I disobey conditioning to never share my work.
These timid pages accessorize my anxieties;
these characters provide an abode home never was.
My survival festers in the words composted here.

The edits to the poem were done by Soni Somarajan, author of ‘First Contact’ (Red River). Follow Anesce on Instagram to show your love and support.