The Mixed Issue: Poetry Roundup

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

Eyes Pried Open by Kristina Robertson

Crescent moon eyes
gazing into the Red Lotus Sea,
petals propagated by hints of uncertainties.

A lost American millennial,
searching inside a mother’s womb for identity.
Face mixed with hesitation,
hidden beneath a father’s redwood tree.

privileged name
yet mocked and shamed,
blending fusion with confusion,
presumed adoption is to blame.

A merciless small town,
filled with slant-eyed gestures,
stereotypes and slights cut right to the core until it festers.

I am a canvas, painted into a camouflaged question mark,
a tsunami rippling through my ribcage.
Curves shaped into pink lotuses,
freckles connect me into an exclamation point.

My crescent moon eyes
meditate behind a reserved smile.
Bashful of my overbite,
an oversight,
but tonight,
I fight, to just be.

Simply hers and his,
mixed,
without the division or betwixt
amidst a lunar eclipse
seen in my eyes pried wide open. 


Proprioception by Macy Summer Punzalan

where are you from?

by the beach

I grew
where the waves
kiss the shoreline .

“no,
where are you 
from?” ––he’d add,
with a toothy grin,
wide and white.

from?
my mother,
her womb.
my father.

from? Saigon,
or what was,
now fallen,

my mother, tall
in the wreckage, 

she is 
strong to have made
a home 
here
with my father

satisfied,

“I knew
I saw something
foreign in you”

Did you see a reflection?

My round face,
almond eyes that glint,
caramel skin

I never caught
on the silver screen. 

at eight years old
I was everything short
of who I thought
I wanted to be 

blonde hair,
blue eyes,
fair skin,

beautiful.

they never said
it could be me,
only

exotic, maybe
a token
conditioned to believe
in the wrong things 
about who I am
because of who
I am perceived to be
by a stranger
who strokes my
“Japanese” hair,
her mouth foaming.
I still hear her ask
If I am a mail order bride.

she says that she knows
where I am
from:
anywhere, but here.

if I am
anyone, at all
I am not 
anything passed along
this fine line
between
what is
socially acceptable,
and what is 
wrong.
I am not a target 
that you can pin down
with the viral shame 
you have tried to create
in me.

you bask in my culture
but silence my stories,
strut to make it 
your history.
subtle,
this display,
perhaps it was yours 
all along.

excuse me
for blowing off steam,
but after your vacation in China, 
“Are you holding your chopsticks right?”

I am going to scream.
where I am 
from the top 
of my lungs:
I belong here
in this space.

it is my own, too.


Hands Like Mine by Jordan Nishkian

Hands like mine

have pink palms,

are dark around

knuckles and cuticles.

They are creased,

foreseeing love,

a happy life,

how many babies to bear.

Hands like mine

are soft, but not

without callouses

or scars from years of use.

They have raw 

patches from picked skin,

divots from nails

clenched too tight.

Hands like mine

always choose “Other,”

and transition from white

to brown when writing their name.

They are pretty

for being exotic,

for being stained

by spices hard to say.

Hands like mine

claw at the whitewash,

revealing color 

generations have buried.

They have dirt,

caked heavy

from the archaeology

of having cultures in America.


Insipid by Camryn Chew

I wake in the dark
Warped with implication
And try to be what no one has told me I am yet
It’s no use
I’m a stranger again
I measure myself in how far I can break


Tainted by Mia Midori

To be black and Japanese
Ridiculed by your own people
Name-calling, judgmental stares, mean glares
I am dirty, tainted, impure
The kids don’t want to play with you
The parents can barely look at you
They all avoid you
Everywhere I go, it’s the same
Keeping their distance from me
Maybe they feel safer that way 

Does my mom know?
She seems to pay them no mind
How can I?
I’m tired of being alone 
and feeling left behind 
So I try and try and try
but to no avail 
I can’t fit in 
I can’t make any friends 
They reject me
They won’t accept me 
I can never be them 
Because I am a mixed Asian girl
with curly hair and brown skin 


Clash and Burn by Kailani Tokiyeda // IG: @kai.laniii

We paint the skies a color of our own
I see you light it with your tangerine tones
My lemon drop colors drip onto the page
Our vibrant little lives stepping up onto the stage

I blend out the patches you see in your skin
You accent my valleys, my canvas within
I dream of a lifetime of color with you
From the darkness of drawn to the trees’ leafy hue

Sometimes when we fret, our colors turn grey
We mix and we stir and we clash day by day
But our fire burns bright, and we’ll turn to new shades
It is in us to be colorful, to be rainbows portrayed

Let’s make new colors from the colors we are
But don’t forget, you, are the rarest color by far


both/and by Melissa Cottle

We are both/and people
Seers of all sides
Human bridges of connection
Claiming “other” with pride
We are both/and people
Our identity is ours to decide
On a journey of rediscovery
Won’t you join us for the ride?

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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