The Culture and Confidence Issue: Poetry Roundup

Sun-Kissed and Earth-Held by Aria Mallare

Our skin is sun-kissed

Our touch bears the warmth of the sun

And we radiate like each one of her glorious rays 

Our skin is bronzed and goldened by the earth

We have been held in her warm embrace 

We are born of fresh, rich soil

Watered by the sunlight 

Born to bloom more sweetly than the flowers 

More confident than the trees

Our skin is full of life 

Know that we have squeezed the sun like an orange 

Drank her light and let the juice stain arms and wrists as it runs down our forearms 

Adorning us with a lifelasting morning glow 

We are the children who savored the daylight

The children chosen by the sun

She has smiled upon us 

Our skin is the mark of her love for us

Skin kissed by warmth and by brilliance


Our skin may be dark 

But is it full of light

You can find Aria at:



Confidence by Cindy Hseih

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I am extremely good at word searches. by miharu

I am not your puzzle piece. 

I am already complete.

Do not break me down and fit me with parts that I already found.

We are not each other’s.

I am not yours.


I hate my hands. by miharu 

I built my fingers out of straw and they still catch fire when I breathe.

It is hard to see through these buttons, black then blue,

but I have sewed them and now they are stuck.

Hot glue runs through plastic veins and my paper mache skin stiffens over time.

You tell me I look brand new.

My skin is soft enough for you when you wear gloves,

and you can feel the air that passes through me. 


When we sleep you hear rustling,

and my head is too light on your chest.

You start peeling back the newspapers as you begin recognizing dates that are long gone.

It is hard to hold my hand.

So, you stop. 


The glue runs thick and your fingerprints leave ink on my cheeks.

You find flesh and it disgusts you.

Your words scratch at dried paint and glitter leaks from my face as I apologize. 


I am sorry that it took so long to show you these scars.


I am still stitching them up.


I Cried During Prom Pictures by miharu

I only know if girls are attractive or not, never boys.

You can take that in however you wish.

I will only ever be able to see a girl

and let her leave me awestruck in her magnitude

because I’ve only ever been bombarded

with what it takes for a girl to be beautiful. 


I know what is wrong.

And what is right.

I see the checks on high cheekbones and the scribbles on acne.

I see waists as tape that measures the breaths we hold when eyes begin glancing.

Every nail is a portrait and every wrinkle a hazardous ditch.

My lips can only spell out a score from 1 to 10. 


Angry is ugly.


Happy is unattainable. 


Trade your smiles for pouty lips and red paint.

Draw on the walls and drink bleach.

Whiten what you cannot and make it pure.

I can see the rips in your skin,

but they are nothing.

Slash the tires and veer off course

until you are back in line and marching

in beat to the sounds of someone else’s heartbeat.

Battle cries in perfect symphony

and floating down the blood-filled river,

with a smile. 


I only know if girls are attractive or not, never boys. 

 So, on a scale from 1 to 10 –

Who am I?


Initiating Self-Destruct Because You Won’t by miharu 

 My chest is an empty casket.

It fills with heavy breaths and your insecurities.

The funny thing about having mechanical feelings and a stopwatch heart is that the weight will only continue 

To push and

Push and 


And your tiny metal chest will bend, but never 


You can find miharu at:

INSTRAGRAM: @notmiharu


Dabke and The Soul of Syria by Renee Yaseen

“Yeah right, so you’re all just gonna hold hands and sing—“ 

 Yes. As a matter of fact, We are all going to hold hands and sing!

And dabke (stamp our feet) in mirthful circular formations, Laughing as our eyes whip from side to side and peer

humbly down to keep in line with our neighbor

And not step on their toes 

There is not a body ahead nor behind.

all of us are in our place

— you must only enjoy the staying and the soul of shared breathing. 

 Aristotle’s decreed that

Man must rule and be ruled in turn.

The dabke, then, is a model of complete community. 

And the circle is the perfect center of our happy city. 

Where the currency is walking steps, And all the awkward shuffling of learners, the missed steps and off-time kicks, 

The bumps in the line, are muffled and forgotten in the pounding of the drum 

Who’s passionate beat trains our hearts to be bellowingly loud 

And consistently forgiving. 

 And the excellence is the flying, the leadership and utter creative freedom, achieved 

By the person at the front of the line, 

They alone will set the pattern for the round, And show us how they break it.  

We yell nonsense words of encouragement to this person.

And this administrative office, is truly open to any of those who have worked to be light of foot and loose of knee. 

Who have tried and failed and tried again – 

To any of us, young or old, who are brave enough to be seen.  

My dad would teach the dabke steps to me

on the deck in the summertime like Step 1, 

Step 2, KICK, And…. crush the cockroach with your foot! (or the scorpion! My dad has allegedly seen many scorpions).  

Once you have smushed all of the roaches that you want,

 I think you can move on to uglier fears

– with the spike of your heel and pointed toe, with quick lightness and grace,

they are gone,

 and the dabke music will carry on for you.

Renee Yaseen is a student at the University of Notre Dame, where she studies Economics and Arabic, with a minor in PPE (Philosophy, Politics, & Economics). She is a Syrian-American poet, artist, and musician. 

INSTAGRAM: @reneeissance_ / @renee.yaseen

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