The Sexuality Issue: Poetry Roundup

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


“To Start A Fire” by Kitty Bernardo

Emblazoned on my chest rests
The stars and sun
of the Philippine flag;
Bold black beaming
Sun’s rays streaming
On my brown tinged skin.
Let ‘em know
The identity within.

Filipino-American
Feeling like the hyphen;
The in-between of the in-between
The rope constantly tugged
Towards one pole or the next.
Polar opposites
In the context
Of the taken and the taker.
Language lost on an anglicized tongue,
Bastard daughter of my makers.

Never enough
I am a woman stratified
Divided amongst the dotted lines
Of Pacific and Atlantic
Compounded generational panic
In the revelation:
Our first born daughter
In the new world
Is a bisexual abomination.

Fear is a trauma response.

I was feeding into ideas
for my own demise.
“Dress how you want,
Just don’t be a dyke”
“You’re my Asian-enough girlfriend,
And you’re bi,
So that means we can fuck girls together right?”
“Let me feel which one of you Asians’ skin is softer”
“Do you do threesomes often?”

Am I disqualified
From my queerness
If I have not acted on my attractions?
Does this make me inferior
Or an imposter
If my experience lacks in action?
All I’ve known is the sweetness of their lips
Or the way her hand was at home in mine
A few hours spent in shadows,
Pursuing the fantasy of the divine.
I used to lie awake at night in regret
Of the leap of faith I never took
Her messages eluded me,
Shied away at a second look.

I’ve long internalized the doubts of my mother,
The abuse of my exes,
The shock of former lovers.
I’ve traversed the quantifying measures in my mind,
Content with constant deconstruction,
Grappling with ownership, identity, the fight to decolonize.
Bisexual
Filipino-American
At times, I am splintered
Like halves of a whole,
Feeling fractured within the diaspora,
A restless soul.
And in others, I am calm,
A well-fed fire at night,
There are histories here,
That keep the flame burning bright.


“Swimming by the Bed” by Annie Lu

You left me in shadow of the sunshine state
Those knowing darkness never shiver
Then, my skin
hung smooth and sharp with icicles under open gutter
A star’s warm gaze belittled us both
now, they and I cry once every minute.

My passions congeal when cool
I re form
but a whole without youyou
is empty.
I want youyou

            youyouyou

            youyouyouyou 

            youyouyouyouyou 

            youyouyouyouyouyou

            youyouyouyouyouyouyou

pass through my prism
any shade of you, I adore
adoringly like each grey droplet unravels daylight after rain
If I cannot suspend you

(Linger, let me show how I reflect whom who touches me)
I will fall
to pool at your feet.

particles of personas , concentrate
all myselves distilled to 
one 
you can truly cherish , at my surface
none so alluring as 
a familiar echo from a foreign voice
Beneath permeable mirrors
my dignity shelters 
say you/shatter me/ break through finally
such you say you wish to do and do you?
Stay, your aim, you’ll see, how I’ve
refracted

you

within me.

Walk today while West Coast waves
stain the whites of your soles
know they taste of my cheek’s side
saline and sad, swimming by the bed
I spill over, ritual shame every sunset
in digusting excess
become but volume
filling your footsteps
by heaving-receding breast, sobbing breath
except, I soak only sands behind you

lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
lovelovelove
lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove
accept, these late tidings,
I flood myself always in time
floating sinking
what is descent to closed eyes?
even my lungs lie,
drowning feels
just fine.


“Self Love” by Allesha Eman // IG: @flippingpagespoetry & @alleshaen

I don’t think I could love myself enough
if self love means to look in the mirror
and trace my lines with poisonous fingers
trying to deform my skin and recolour its pigments
or straighten the curvature of my nose,
or to fit my body within the lines of constraining shapes. 

I don’t think I could love myself enough
if self love means to silence my voice
shut down my power 
quiet my strength and –
– wear a shameful coat sewed together
from the threads of insecurity
because those are the clothes society chose for me, 
so that I could fit within the narrow mindset behind your ignorant gaze. 

I don’t think I could love myself enough…

…if self love means to be defined by society’s ruthless pen.


“Symphonies and Melodies” by Divya Chhotani

symphonies and melodies can’t begin to describe you the sweet honey that drips from your lips
your throat, the carrier of the vocals that sing me to sleep
the expressions you make in the dead of night or how the light perfectly shines its light on you 
you illuminate radiance 
and have the candor that could beat any lie detector
why would you lie when the honey that drips from your lips tells stories that no human has ever heard nor experienced
why would you lie when I can distinguish the noise clashing with the bold and beautiful 
you power me forward when all I want to do is look backward 
if I turn to the left my candor is compromised when I look you in the eyes in the dead of night it’s the dauntless acts that illuminate my mind like fireworks in a field in the pitch soundless night 
hush and hide behind the bush 
you’re turning my brain into mush 
dodging my identity by putting on the lush 
playing cards and did a royal flush, you know I didn’t even blush 
you are symphonies and melodies
rhythms and blues
I don’t even have a clue as to why you seem to be so perfect 
beats in studios and writing on my notes can’t do justice as to how selfless you are
your beauty can’t be highlighted by just words alone
how the evanescent greens blend with the blue, got me roasting marshmallows by the fire by just looking into your eyes, pitch dark in the dead of night, I’m waltzing in the dark though I seem to have lost my sense of direction 
don’t follow me you’ll end up falling more and more with my luscious hair
my hand wrapped in your hand while I wrap my arms around your waist
looking at those lips that I long to connect with
feeling that skin that I long to hold in the dead of night
though my bed is empty and bare I hope that you could stay the night
maybe for a night or two and warm up your side of the bed and leave your scent behind so that I can fall deeper and deeper and I can dream about you with my eyes closed, waiting for you to fall into my sheets again
hit my phone and sing me those sweet melodies as I remember
you’re symphonies and melodies 
heartaches and got me pulling on your heartstrings 
stringing me along like a violin that needs restringing 
like pulling a string from the cheese strip
my writing may seem colloquial very informal but with the love, I have in my heart for you girl I could write you novel after novel 
walk down bourbon street in NOLA
saying hola to the bartender who pours the drink, tequila or the wine for the person on my left, you’ve put something in my liquor that’s got me reminiscing sipping missing ya
symphonies and melodies
like horses racing for the crown in my head
I’m outta my mind trying to understand you 
understanding who I am and who I’m from 
understanding who I am and who I could’ve become
to we are and we could’ve been
temporary happiness or a long-lasting commitment 
I’m outta my mind trying to put the puzzle pieces together
retracing, what once was lost cannot be found
but I’ve been lost, and I’ve been found
not thrown in a bin, haven’t been in a fat minute
but I’ve been lost, and I’ve been found
what once was lost is now in my grip to be found
for now, I’m in the sky, head in the clouds
it’s not a lie that I’m conflicted about my feelings for you
about whether I can bring you home and show you my world
but what’s life if there ain’t no chase
not laced in drama, shown as a panorama, a picture is worth 1,000 words
the 1,000 words I couldn’t say to you 
symphonies and melodies
I hear in my head
let me escape and hear the sweet voice that floods my mind
let me escape to the sky while I look into your eyes
telling you how much I love you and how much I need you here to survive
let me escape to reconnect with my identity
to make sure and understand that this, us, will always be a part of me
while I’m staring at the honey dripping from your lips
while you continue to tell me those sweet lies I fall for
over and over again

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.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

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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