The TV Issue: Poetry Roundup

Each issue we feature pieces of prose and poetry from Asian women around the world. Here are this issue’s pieces!


Instagram: @maharani.movement

Instagram: @maharani.movement

“Sacred Browness” by Meesha Sharma (she/her) 

Instagram: @alchemystic_studio 

Melanated
Like the Earth
That gave birth
To us all
The nutrient rich
Soil that
Lives and crawls
Mycelium
Like neurons
Speaking secrets
Of our roots.

Hair raven black
Eyes chocolate brown
Dominant genes
Shackled by the law
The blacker the berry
The sweeter the fruit
Camouflage in the wild
Suffocated by the boot

Waterfalls 
Rivers
Healing element 
Between my legs
Held down
By the government 

Waiting for the day
Sacred reverence returns
For the brown
The black
The indigenous ones 

Until then I take
Refuge in Gaia 
My escape
From the toxic
The illusion-
Maya

Wishful pause by Alice Fontaine

A North American September
An iconic window to autumn
A time squeezed tightly
Alongside a sigh of sweet relief
You can slow down now

Do the winds stir up a longingness?
A welcomed reach into the memory bank
Of true or imagined belonging?
Past and future comforts reside here
Blowing off the dust on the oven
Remembering the hedonistic pleasures
Of sharing baked goods

Yet your grip slowly loosens
As time reminds you that it never stopped
The mind is already on the next
Wondering how first rain brings such comfort
But last rain such relief

You look to your calendar
Searching
For the silent rise and fall of the sun
Sans distraction
A wishful pause
Until the leaves begin to change once more
And you remember that you miss the rain

The Slumdog Not-so-Millionaire by Divita Pandita

Instagram: @divigence

“2008’s most acclaimed film, Slumdog Millionaire, sets itself in Dharavi 17;
the biggest slum in Mumbai, India”

Gazing upon the faces of actors caked with makeup
I watch perfect bodies glide
across a widescreen to the track of “Jai Ho”;
flawless costumes and figures clashing harshly against
dilapidated train stations of Dharavi 17 in the background.

Peeling myself away from my grandparents’ TV
I rush out to their balcony
hoping for glimpses of glittery dance numbers
but instead
return empty-handed as
hazy, pollution-filled skies obstruct my view
of the real Dharavi 17 below me.

Here in the real Dharavi 17,
no starry skies fill the heavens for slumdogs to wish upon:
here, dust replaces everyone’s atmosphere.
Breathing in bacteria and shit
slumdogs clean themselves in garbage infested ravines
making the most out of the leftovers of others.

Here in the real Dharavi 17,
*dhamakedar dance numbers don’t give slumdogs their highs:
*dhamakedar drugs do.
Buyers book black markets for some slumdog *bhaang
as slumdog women and girls sell their bodies too
while
Mumbai elites buy one to get the other item free.

Here in the real Dharavi 17,
there are no chances for slumdogs to answer million-dollar questions:
illiteracy prevents slumdogs from answering basic questions of escaping poverty. Metropolitan bathrooms stand bigger than slumdog schools so
slumdogs stand big-hearted instead
compensating for their empty pockets.

Dharavi 17 might have been featured in Slumdog Millionaire
but there is only one man that benefited from that movie
and he wasn’t the dog from the slum.

*bhaang= Hindi slang for cannabis
*dhamakedar is a little hard to translate but closely related definitions are solid/crazy/ banging/ blockbuster.

Half Asian in America by AsiaKai Dang

Instagram: @asiakaikim

I got my hair cut today
At a salon I’ve never been to
Situated right by the college I attended

The stylist was Vietnamese
We have the same last name. I saw her business card and smiled softly to myself.

She washes my hair
Her hands smell familiar

They say scent is the sense best tied to your memory
My mom has a perfume that takes her right back to an old casino in Vegas.

The shampoo on my head continues to lather
Her hands smell like a home I’ve never been to
A family I’ve never met
Holidays I’ve never celebrated 

She is overjoyed to know I am Vietnamese
She must long for belonging too

She rinses my hair
Her hands smell like a language I was never taught to speak

I’ve been getting my nails done since the 6th grade

I sit in the salon chair as she trims my dead ends and I look at my hands

I don’t know if I even like manicures
But that hour every few weeks is the closest I’ve ever been to Vietnam.

Outshining Taboo by Ishani Trada

My mother had me when she was 23,
It’s not appropriate to say I want to have sex at the same age because
I am not married.
Isn’t marriage is to much to do just for Sex!

I kissed a guy, all of my friends asked “How was it? Give us details.”
I kissed a girl, they said, “Have you gone crazy or what!”
What’s the craziness I’ve done here!

I had sex with one of my friends, but said ‘No’ to another one from
the same friend’s circle.
Should I sleep with everyone to justify the sex with first friend?

an ode to the color blue by Ruby Xun

When I dropped 
your crisp blue
dress shirt 
into the
dancing flames
all I could
see was
red,
but as the
fabric curled and
blackened around 
the edges 
I felt 
the lightness 
of the thread
dissipate,
into the sky,
or the ocean.
The color blue
paints the inside
of my hands as I ran
the traces of you
down the
back of her
spine.
Your tears-
and the
ribbon,
now tangled
in her scarlet hair,
all 
blue.

Most colors 
scream at me.
Sharp corners
and plastic buckets
of my childhood.
Faded polaroids
with its dull
white 

shine
throw daggers
at the back of 
my mind.
But blue-
what 
a
color. 
Thirty 
shades of
blue, 
color the
depths of
your eyes,
and seems to move
with the
beat
of 
your
heart. 

Blue,
so genuine,
and warm,
I am floating
in this water, 
that rapidly
turns cold.
Freezing, shaking-
I am left with your
now blue 
lips.

All I can see
is blue.
It paints
me the
color of 
you. 

Who is That Girl I See by Kailani Tokiyeda 

Instagram: @kai.laniii

You might have seen me on the screen
A slanty-eyed, beauty queen
A smart aleck and often mean
Or socially dumb, no in between
Porcelain skin kept nice and clean
The china doll, the figurine
But no, I couldn’t intervene
And remind them all, that wasn’t me.

You see, I loved to dress in Mulan’s clothes
Well really, just my mom’s bathrobes
But I dreamt of a story of my own
I wanted to be me and stand alone
I used to where shoes that were very old
Holey, maybe, but wholesome
I wore my honor, but had I known
My face was Mulan’s, that’s all they were shown.

The tv stayed off for quite some time
Being Kailan felt like a crime
I would watch her with an eagle eye
knowing that I missed me, myself, and i.
Now, it’s on in the back of my mind
but my brain has left those worries behind

That’s what happens when no one knows your name.
You simply become stamped by the blind.

Poison of Choice by Iris Orpi

Instagram: @irisorpi

Let’s talk, before the layers,
the peeling back—the sound it makes when
you put a knife to the comfort responses
and expose raw will to the questions,
when you pick apart the abstract constructs
like semantics and “cultural nuances”
and the past distorting the present,
what didn’t you have enough of in life,
or what was on TV when you were most
impressionable. Can we call it what it is,
you know there is power in naming things.
Or will that make you feel “personally
attacked”? Is it desire? If it’s the most
irrational kind, I can try to understand that.
Vindictiveness? Like one of those soap
opera villains who spend all their energy
trying to destroy someone?
Is money involved? A quid pro quo?
What’s the sun your world revolves around?
What book might you take a right-hand
oath on that would make you think twice
about perjuring yourself?
Where’s your line in the sand?
I mean you might as well be judged
for who you really are, right?
If you don’t care, you don’t care.
Maybe other people’s currencies don’t mean
anything to you. So maybe just say that?
So they can stop haggling and everyone can
move on. I don’t have all day to stand here.
Describe for me the method of hurting when
you coerce from behind the briar the one
or two actual motives that would be
otherwise unclothed, pungent like screams.
Let’s talk about the kind of conversation
it takes to draw the truth out like blood.
Away, away from emotional rhetoric.
We are not our vulnerability, our
exploitability. We are the evils we choose
to fight for, emaciated and god-like,
on the other side of the needle’s eye.

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.

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