February I Issue: Poetry Roundup

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


Poems by Micky Brown

“More Pretty Than Money”

I’ve been lamenting recently that I’ve 
Run out of materials to collage with
But today I cashed a check

No two
I work two jobs these days

And I walked away from the ATM a few hundred dollars richer

These days,

Money doesn’t show up in your hand after a week’s work
It’s a number on a screen but my dream is to
Take all those numbers and turn them into bills
Don’t I work for that money?
Don’t I earn it?

I sure sweat for it.
I sure missed out for it.
–sorry not tonight i have a shift–

Don’t I own that money?
It sure is a pretty shade of green

Like mint tea mixed with cement
When’s the last time I held a dollar?

It sure has faces of ugly men on it
I’ve been lamenting recently that I’ve
Run out of materials to collage with
But today I might withdraw my numbers and hold them in fat stacks

I might rip them up
Maybe eat a couple
I might pull on the soft fibers
Worn down from those who didn’t
Know they owned it and returned it to the company they borrowed it from
I might tear them to shreds and
Make something to look at

It might not be a good collage

Just give me some time to get better

I might not be a good artist

But I’ll sell my body and my friendships and time for numbers on a screen and
I could make something more pretty than money

Something people wouldn’t start wars over
Something people wouldn’t hoard for their next 15 generations
Something anyone could have

I could make something more pretty than money

But rent is due next week.

“Memories to be Made”

I don’t think poetry matters.
Who will remember even one whole stanza 

From tonight?
Or from a book? Or online?

Who will remember?
But I also don’t think what I think matters.
Will I remember what I said?

Tonight?
Yesterday?
Or last year?

Will I remember?
All that I know, all that I know

To be true is that

The Cedar Waxwings, dipped in fire,

Will come home to the Valley each turn of summer.

And the poppies invite bees and bugs 

To settle between their petals
Each fall of winter.

And we, such small fawns

Wading through turbulent waters
Will remember how we felt tonight

And tomorrow.
And when the sun breaches the horizon 

And reaches its fingers to the stars.

And when we say goodbye.
And when we figure out why poetry matters at all.


Poems by Kari VanderLaan

“Light Rail”

The train felt important the moment you stepped stepped inside.
Your sing-song voice, unselfconscious, sanitized whatever status quo lingered from the lunchtime rush.
You kicked coffee droplets off your fingertip.
You winked.

“Silent Treatment”

Orange juice sunrise. 
Spilled onto the pages,
you never looked up. 


Poems by Julia Cosolo

“Shh”

Uninterrupted peace and space
Is something I have been missing and needing
No matter where I go, noise follows me.

Just let me be
That’s all I ask
Give me my solitude

I can’t take the noise because it fills up my head
Clouding my mind with clutter

When I come back I seek serenity
And a place to claim my own

“future home (20th edition)”

I dream of a place, 
that is serene, minimal, renewable
a work of architectural art
a library of books, ideas, memories
a garden and a coup,
tatami floors to midday nap on,
wide windows to eliminate boundaries, no taking sides
to walk in to vitality, 
with everything is created with intention
a quiet buzz from the souls of those who inhabit the home with me

“Ms. Love”

If I love you,
I will miss you

I think about you every day
And feel guilty if I try to push you out of my mind

You deserve to take up all the space in the world
Because you matter more than anyone to me

I’m scared though, to love you,
to spend my time loving you
what am I to do when the loves gone?


“Lovely” by Christine

Trying to drag on, I put fire in my lungs, 
A kid with burns and belt lashes on her skin, I’ve been chasing that high ever since.
Why can’t I find pleasure from biting my tongue? 
My grandma said, we all feel that way, 
It runs in your veins, don’t let them know you like the pain. 
Grandma traded the lotus flower for his american flag, packed her culture away in a small bag. 

Sometimes I think I’m too aware of the crackling in my brain, but my mother said, we all feel that way.
Don’t let them know you’re in pain, no one will like you if you’re insane. 
And mother traded med school for a milky white man, she painted a picture of how to be romanced.
Now I chase men who don’t want me, trying to make myself seem lovely. 
So I can prove to me that I am worthy. 

And I promise it’s not about you, It all traces back to the man that told me I am nobody.
An embarrassing extension of himself. 
A stupid half breed, can’t do anything right. 
A product of my mother giving up her freedom for a fucked up family. 

Seems my parent’s intelligence got lost in me. 
Left with my father’s anger, and my mother’s soft spoken voice that shakes with anxiety.
I am the worst parts of my parents, all that they keep hidden comes out in me. 

In a constant cold war between who I am and who I want to be, 
who I was told to be and who I learned to be. 
Father told me that’s how we all feel, don’t make yourself seem special. 

Yes, my mother painted me a picture of how to be romanced, 
and hidden in the soft strokes and gentle curves of her brush she warned, 
he’ll trick you with his words, 
making himself seem gentlemanly, 
so that he can prove to him that he is worthy. 

She painted me a picture, taught me how to romance. 
How to be lovely, 
keep your sweet lips sewn tightly, 
have soft skin and a slender body. 

And so I think back to the man that told me I am nobody. 
Teary eyed and dead inside, 
I say to him, daddy why don’t you think I’m lovely?


“Asian Erasure” By Jina Park

“Omona” is a Korean phrase used when one is surprised…
It is relevant when thinking about the rise of attacks against Asian-Americans
To jot down my thoughts, I typed “Omona” in my notes app
It immediately autocorrected to “Mona”
I tried again, two, three, four, five times and the words flipped to “Moon” instead.
Asian erasure.
Just like that, I can feel the pain of my roots being taken away
Along with that, I helplessly see videos of Asian Americans being assaulted 
Just like that, I see people like my grandparents being violently pushed into the ground 
Not a peep in the media. 

Omona…This is Asian erasure. 

But come spring, my roots will come again
You see, my grandma will make sure of it! 
I will visit her and see her blooming garden, 
Full of sangchu, gochu, and pa*                                                             
Omona! 
Halmoni**, how did you grow all of this? 
She works in her garden with love and consistency
Growing each plant, from seed to root to maturation
All the neighbors know about her garden!

Come summer, she makes tubs of kimchi*** for our family to eat        
Her food soothes my soul,
And reminds me of my roots as an Asian-American. 
Omona…Halmoni’s food is so good, she makes the best kimchi!

People ask, 
Omona…she’s 90, how is she so active?
Well, her roots are strong and sturdy
She doesn’t falter in any situation.
She continues to garden and work year after year.

Only after writing this I realize…
There will be no Asian erasure.

The sacrifice of my grandparents and parents will always ground me. 
Their roots and their history as immigrants
constantly remind me of their perseverance. 

Like our grandparents, we shouldn’t waver 
Let’s cultivate our roots and stand tall
Let’s tend to each other and stand tall

Omona, there will be no Asian erasure. 

 *Lettuce, hot peppers, spring onion
**Halmoni means grandma in Korean
***Kimchi is fermented spicy cabbage, it is a traditional Korean dish


Poems by Darsana Mohan

“Solar Systems” 

My father tried to cook an egg once.
He cracked it open using a spoon
like mum did everyday in the side vision of his newspaper.
In the evening, Amma had to come home, 
wipe the floor and add a note to the grocery list. 

When I was 5,
My mother would put me to sleep,
gently lulling me into thinking that the night was a friend.
Come morning,
I would awaken to a growl
erupting out of my father,
inviting me to battle the day ahead.
The sage and warrior
Night and Day 
My house never left the horizon.

When I fought with him 
She would stand in a corner,
sip her tea slowly,
Wanting to pour it on herself if our sounds rose to open skies and windows.
When I fought with her
He would turn the radio on,
tune it to cacophonies erupting out of seas,
wait till we reached a shore and help us cross it.
She told me once,
As I tried to wind them 
into the hands of a clock bidding time to stop,
She told me that they were 
simply parallel lines 
impersonating an axis, 
with a sun placed in
the space between my eyes

“Room with a view”

Most days, I wake up only wanting to eat. 
My window is a gossip,
forever looking into the neighbors kitchen-
Masala dosa, paniyaram, sambar made from scratch
My room smells like spices whose English names we do not know. 
They are a cooking sort of family I imagine.

My house eavesdrops for sounds of hot coffee being poured into steel tumblers,
One falls and the ring ting ting sound melts into our floors.
This is a kinship of sound- their cooking is subject to my musical whimsy. 
On a glorious night of ‘Urvasi ’ on repeat,
The knives slashed a little deeper into the cutting board.

My mother asks if I know my neighbors and I tell her I know what they had for breakfast,
which to her, is all you need to know about someone.
One day I will turn to my window and ask them what they’d like to listen to.


“Discerning Devastation” by Erica Trinidad

Sometimes I wish
that personality was a box
you could tuck in your pocket;
hand it over to
strangers on the street
when they feel like
being someone else
for just one day. 

You would trade squares
and fit them into the round holes
of your beating heart –
open up a few
savor the scent
and taste the memories
they long to forget. 

Whenever my feet get itchy
I realize that scratching
the surface isn’t about
disliking where I am
but hating who I’m not;
because I could be her, you know.
I could be anybody:
the lovely face you call home
the leader you call hero
the woman you call god. 

I could be anybody
anywhere else
I could be something else
if only I had the courage to try
and leave a little
to build myself from scratch
steal the nose of that woman on the street
the brain of that man on the phone
the laugh of that child on a ride
and that body you see on the
billboard.

I could be the world’s greatest liar
if only I could avert my eyes
from everyone I ever loved
excluding myself.

I would stare and stare
into the mirror each day
hoping to convince
the greatest liar of all
the truth of what I am not
and the truth of who I long to be. 

The voices in my head
talk to each other at the dinner table
debating the reasons why
I’m so unhappy to stay.
They’re convinced that
taking away all that I know
will give me the wisdom to realize
all that I truly am. 

Utterly sold on the idea that
these round holes
in my square heart
will give me the power to create
who I am
to be reborn
again and again.

I wish could I start over
just get up and go
meet those strangers on the street
and tell them
no matter how hard you try
those boxes are all
you will ever know.


“Silence woke her” by Jordan Nishkian

She was used to symphonic traffic
seeping through his studio walls:

rolling over
to blaring horns,
syncing her lungs
to dull roars of diesel,
shielding him from shrieking brakes—

right hand finding heartbeat,
left hand inhabiting hair,

eyes open enough
to see his shoulder bathe
in traffic cues and neon.


Poems by Samina Parveen

“Revenge”

I believe in revenge
It’s stubborn just like my dying husband’s heartbeats,
Seeing scarlet rivers flow throw his stomach, profusely
My heart asunder, tears flowing with the vermilion agony
Dear stranger, you took away my heaven and brought hell,
I hope I bring you the worst of hell too.
Karma is an endless chain
I believe in revenge, Pain for pain
Cacophony of screams vibrating in my ears,
Syncs with my screeches, tears flowing with vermillion agony
Dear stranger, I want to hear your screams which are mellifluous to me
Karma is infinite
I believe in revenge
Eyes rheumy glancing the pain, death playing hide and seek
Knocking catastrophe, tears now blending with vermillion agony almost washed away
Dear stranger, I am silent before the calamity
Karma will reach you.

———————————————————————————————

Vermillion stands for traditional sindoor which is red-orange powder put as a cosmetic. Indian women use it as a sign of their marriage. When the sindoor is smudged off or wiped it indicates the woman has lost her husband.

“Lost in Timezone”

When the plane landed, I gasped
Slowly opening my closed eyes to the world I left behind.
Smelling the wet mud which is still alive, oh petrichor
When the air hostess greets me with a namaste, it’s a feeling of belongingness.
The rain greets me and the wind dances whirling me around
It’s all lost in a timezone

Delhi airport, when I roll my eyes to check if anything has changed in the years. It gives me chills to see the vending machine filled with kurkure, an Indian flavor of lays. It’s all lost in the time zone. When I see the nine mudras on the walls of terminal three. That’s when I get reassurance. that this is my land. Skillfully posing unique Indian architecture reminds me of the missing ingredients of my life.

Time Zones strain me, my friends go to bed earlier than me,
That’s when I feel empty, overwhelmed.
When the sun rises before you rise, and nights are deeper than my plight.
It’s a pleasure to see them at the airport when we live
At the same time zones. Virtual hugs and profound cuts
Can’t heal when all I find is time, a time we could talk,
Stuck in my timezone which was on a neverending loop

It’s a delight to see the narrow streets, hawkers selling sweet
When I shout shotgun, it’s always astonishing to see the driver’s seat on right
I’ll be yawning, it’s insane with jet lags.
Aroma of kulcha, masalas roasted with ghee making it irresistible to resist.
As the car moves casually along the modern roads, grey pavements have turned black, the whole place seems to be new.
Buildings rise, trees die.
It’s all lost in timezones.


Poems by Eman Khurram

“Questions for my father”

I have not seen my father in 4 years.
Lately I’ve sat down to wonder how he is.
Does he still ache?
Do his eyes still water when he hears my name?
Or does his soul fill with rage at the mention of me?
Does he make everyone pretend I never existed?
Is he a walking corpse?
A man without a soul?

Every day I sit on the old, old
Prayer mat I left home with.
I ask my God to lessen his pain.
I beg for God to let him forget I existed.

Daughters of good fathers don’t run away.
Daughters who are fed with silver spoons,
All of their father’s beautiful dreams do not disappear.
Girls with gold on their arms and privilege in their blood do not
Twist and crack and shatter.

I will never see my father again.
I will always wonder how he is.
Will he always ache?
Will his eyes water whenever he hears my name?
Or will he shove me back to a dark, dark place?
A place locked with keys thrown far, far away.
A place so hard to reach, one gets tired in the venture.
Will he forget I exist?
Will he ever want to see me again?

“A Real Girl”

When I was a real girl.
One made of bones and flesh and warmth,
Held together by sinew.
I think I used to dream.

Of glory and smiles and the sun.
But the glory was too grand.
The smiles bit at my neck and tore my ribcage apart
And the warmth was scalding,
It burned me away.

I am no longer a real girl.
No longer made of bone and flesh and warmth,
No longer do I need sinew to keep my meager appendages from shattering.
Now I am steel and stones and bricks.
Kept together with cement.
I refuse to dream.

Real girls all die.

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.

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop