Aybala Turkarslan is a high school junior from Seattle, Washington. She recently founded publishYOUth—an international online service connecting youth writers to publication and competition opportunities—after noticing the difficulty for youth writers in finding publishing opportunities in an applicable, affordable, and organized manner. As a young writer herself, Aybala enjoys poetry, fiction, and essay writing. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the Ringling College of Art & Design, and the INS Essay Contest Top 15 for her essay on neuromarketing in politics. Outside of writing she is passionate about social change and entrepreneurship, as well as sunshine and Turkish dramedies.

The Money Issue: Poetry Roundup

Each issue we feature the pieces of Asian womxn all around the world. Here are this issue’s pieces!

Pieces by Jacqueline Wu

Shadows of Indifference 

A night, midnight blue, one with no stars
An eye peering through the opening, clouds reflected in gaze
And blank stares, pearly white- drenched in tears 

The pendulum’s swinging, completing its endless cycle
Hushed whispers ripple the surface, then back again
An unfathomable abyss and death’s glare upon us with wings of black silk shadowing

A mirror with many faces, broken shards blemishing beauty
A girl, no two. Nameless, shamelessly looking. Dreaming-
As the sweet, soul sucking vortex redeems her again

Walls encroach upon the silent dreamer as she remembers
Transparent glass walls that cuts us with its sharp frame and protects-
Unshackled but made captive, the dragon’s strength wanes from toil- where did dragon from
As two wrongs aren’t made right with Chaos king and darkness spilling

It isn’t tempest from which I hide, or fire that chars my flesh
Nor is it chilled autumn morns, or even emotion in flashing thunder and wet torrents 
Or love or hate, illusions conceived by the human mind
No, it’s indifference, rather ignorance in all its selfish forms

Colorless with grey hued skies and shapeless mist delusions to cold eyes; tasteless
Silent as despair, undiscerning as the raven veers towards temporary paradise
Poison dripping from the black tongue that blots and burns  
For the fair rose with its delicate shades of pink- 
Is nothing but deceit.

Undulation 

I was waiting for dawn’s stately tresses at the intersection, 
For I hail from another time, trapped in its steady undulation
And oh was I waiting!
My feet were sore, my blisters festering,
Night was not day, day was not yet dark,
Yet I have to leave my mark.

I had come from another place,
A dream by a child’s sweet lips identified a myth
“Tis divinity! A nymph, a fairy, a god!” She exclaimed. 
A heinous sprite- two faced, a damnation common to us all
Or perhaps a fiend professing truth? What truth betrays the definition?
“Tis beauty in misty eyes and smiling mouth!”

Insatiable hunger, oh tyrant in peacetime, all for despairing hope
Is evading the truth, this cowardice, tempest worth?
Or is Death himself, devil crying mercy, with the promise of salvation worth? 
Dare to hope or hope to dream?

Lady of the night, oh envious, cunning moon
Lend your gloved hand who stole velvet from the king of Chaos
And starlight for the silk caressing skin
The hand that brought broken dreams
And hated remembrance and brassy love
And lifeless eyes-

Give me the gilded key
And let in the glorious sun
For I see her tresses at the intersection
At the intersection between night and day
And old and new.

Empty Promises

Moonbeams illuminate the cedar wood floors of the tiny antique shop,
The only source of light in the darkest hour of the night,
When dreamers dream, with only the bitter cold seeping into fatigued bones….
Until the horizon turns orange and gold, and the moon hides its face yet again.

A small girl with red cheeks and raven black hair opens the door, 
Holding the weathered hand of father, their breaths forming fog in the wintry air,
For in the depths of the tiny shop lay a lone black violin case,
Out of place like a brick among colorful feathers in stark contrast.

Once, it was apprized by many, carefully handcrafted with the utmost love and care,
And not a speck of dust dared touch its polished varnish then.
Its warm, rich melodies had sung in many acclaimed concert halls,
Its timeless, haunting beauty connecting the souls of strangers for that one moment,
Allowing breaths to catch and tears to inevitably fall, fulfilling its selfless promise.

Now, after many long years trapped in the steady undulation of the glorious past,
The violin had forgotten its promise, its concert days only a fading dream of youth.
And the small desperate flicker of hope had simmered to a dying flame in its fragile shell,
Until the girl with the raven black hair, straight like the definition, became its owner.

Yes, I bought the violin that day,
For it was a joyous freedom for the girl and the violin
With its warm, rich melodies still ringing in acclaimed concert halls,
Its timeless, haunting beauty connecting the souls of strangers for that one moment,
Allowing breaths to catch and tears to inevitably fall, fulfilling its selfless promise.

The Silence of Winter

A long time ago, my grandmother told me,
That there was nothing more important than love you can see
She told me
That in the beginning of the world,
As the autumn leaves curled,
the days grew shorter and the nights longer
She told me that the night animals prowled, grabbing many good men who were led astray
It’s not my fault, they would say 

Yes, evil ruled now, Chaos on a throne 
A throne of deception and lies 
A promise to both sides, made too long ago to remember
The good now diminished to a last dying ember
No one could change their destinies
For the world was ending

As the moonbeams shone and the snow fell thick
My grandmother lay on her bed sick
She shone through, her rays lighting the way, 
illuminating an imaginary path for anyone who listened
Her name was hope
Hope for change
Hope for the better

As we sit, we can still hear the last forgotten memories of the people of seasons ago
For even if they had fallen in the fight for good, their love lives on
You see, the good and the light had won
If you listen carefully, you can still hear the moans of the lost in the creak of the ice and the whoosh of the wind
The sigh of the plants settling in their roots, and the last cry of the mockingbird

As my shoes crunch in the snow, it falls, slowly covering the ground. 
The winter wonderland bathes the world in a blanket of quietness
The chittering of birds stop, and you can no longer hear the squirrels.
The air, the river, the mountains 
An empty silence remains, the calm before a storm
I hear the dying cries of my ancestors begging me
A strong blizzard churns inside me, threatening to pull me apart
A battle between good and evil, a battle between jealousy and love 

The night sky twinkles with many stars, their light leading the way
Peace settles inside me, and I suddenly hear the twinkle of bells, the music of the world.
The song of the night jay joins in a strange harmony, the song of old
The ice crystals sparkle, and the bitter gale moans in agony 
This is the song of goodness
This is the song of winter, a time of choice and remembrance
I am one with nature, and I feel my soul being carried away with the wind.
The merry sounds of Christmas fills my ears, my mind, and my heart
My worries drain away and I am a new person
My grandmother was right
Winter always turns into spring 

 

Corona Virus: A Poem

I am not a virus, I am not a conversation of topic

I am simply Asian, not a contagion

I live and breathe like every other person 

Yet somehow fears and scares have stirred up a motion

Xenophobia, pandemonium, it’s all just commotion

Who decided that something such as a virus

Could simply define us

History has a pattern of isolating communities

Making us feel less than we’re really

Every single race has dealt with hate from others and 

the Asian community now deals with it in the palm of our hands: RACISM

Every assault is a punch to the guts

Every glare is a cut to the body

Every word is a bullet to the head

We may look the same but we don’t belong in the race of discriminated against

We are all human, and all deserved to be loved no matter what disease is in the air

Your words are more of a virus than we are.

So take the precautions, keep yourself safe, but watch your words, and watch your hate

We need to be heard, every one of us, we need to learn

We are not the virus

– Caitlin Cheung

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

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We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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