February II 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!


“Lola Rosa” by Joan Marshall-Missiye

I was eleven when you let me go,
I crossed an ocean to a foreign land.
I did not understand.
Maybe you knew then
That you would not see me again
So you held my face in your small, rough hands
With a thousand lines
That tell a thousand stories
Of a century of revolution
Of change and unrest
Of work in the fields under a punishing sun
Of washing and rinsing
Clothes and tears and blood
In the rivers of your childhood
That you left behind so swiftly, too quickly.
Your fading eyes gazed into mine
And you planted a kiss on my cheek – chubby and soft
Untouched by fists nor sticks.
You were proud of that,
That I would not feel the blows and cuts
You hid from me but I saw the scars.
And the broken bones that bent your body.
You did not tell those stories because the years were far away now,
But the tears I have seen falling
On quiet mornings
The sun rising over the rice fields
Told me as much.
The trauma came in bursts of rage.
Nobody understood why
I would give my child your name
But it has always been your name.
Because I saw you cross the meadow
To borrow a cup of sugar
When the cabinet was empty
To make my favorite rice pudding
Just to make me smile through the fever I was fighting.
Because you took the skirt that was pinching my waist
And you removed the elastic from your own handmade skirt to add onto mine
Telling me I was growing too fast.
Because you took my twisted ankle and set it right with oil and water and your healing incantations.
Because you chewed the guava leaves that stopped the bleeding of my cut hand.
You are going to America, you told me.
You will have all the clothes and all the food and all the medicine you want.
America where I was told I did not belong.
America where they say there is freedom.
America where you fight for everything you have.
It is the same, I wrote to you.
When they told me you were gone, I already knew.
You disappeared and I folded you inside my heart.
So I can fight and heal and love for you.


“she.” by Sabina Khan

Heir of overlords past
Made through blood and bone,
a kingdom meant to last
by princes formed from a common mold.
lone Venus shines, deformed
lightning strikes at Her feet
and through a crack performed
steps in and cracks neat.

No longer tethered,
She, the Heir, is now feathered.


“Why do I write, you ask?” by Lily Low

17 year old me was asked
“Why do you write?”

I write,
For the things I find inspiration from but I am unable to express so in that moment
For the emotions trapped within me, unable to go beyond my suppression
For the things I find that I am too afraid to speak of our loud
For everything in-between that I go through
Giving a voice for what the people I love go through
Searching to speak of the things this world goes through

All in all,
I write for the cause
I write to comfort
I write for comfort
I write for us
I write of brighter days, to brighter days

And I write
For me

I write for the me who was an avid dreamer of many things
I write for the me who was doe-eyed and naïve
I write for the parts of me that I have lost
I write for the parts of me that I am still trying to figure out

I write
For my future self

Whenever I feel something
This is where I go
So that one day
I’ll go over these words I’ve written
And I would be able to immerse myself
Back into this very headspace
To see how far I’ve come
To see if I’m where I want to be

If you are still finding
Searching
Seeking
For what sets your soul ablaze
Like a moth drawn to a flame
Your happiness and your light will come

You will get there
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow
But somehow
Someday
Some-way
You’ll look back to these very words
And truly understand

23 year old me was asked
“Why do you write?”

This is still why
Why I wrote
And why I write

While juggling her postgraduate studies, Lily Low is an online voluntary contributor and freelance writer on the side. She specifically advocates for mental health awareness, but also writes pieces about motivation, music, and psychology. Her main goal is to make the world a little brighter through her passion for words. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.


“Missing Shadow, Broken Mirror” by Samina Parveen

If we repeat something again and again and again
It’s value decreases. swallow the truth with sugar coat, it seeps into the body
radiating it the poison, hollowed every bone. crushing every cell to ashes.
I was told that I am not good I am not good I am not good
I believed. I buried my innocence in a cascade
Swallowed my past life, burnt my veiling dreams

If we repeat something again and again and again
We start believing it’s true.
I was told to do what others do. I did. I did. Seriously I did?
I believed. Evacuated my castle, crushing the paper boats
Tore the sweater I weaved

If we repeat something again and again and again
It affects your mind, hostage of glass chamber of floating restrictions you don’t know who
imposed, you are compelled to follow. Compromising something for no one.
I was told that differences existed from birth
I wasn’t born with my thoughts. You shaped the pot, made it half hollow.
When consciousness entered there, it was unnourished, scattered, but it was imperative.
Creativity peeped rose from its grave. I tried to light a match in the rain, it didn’t work. Ambitious
creativity survived, incarnation came alive

If we repeat something again and again and again
It changes our lives. Mind your words.
I collected the shattered glasses, unlocked my castle, threw away the veil, built paper boats,
wove my sweater.
And now I don’t believe what whispers birds tell, I should follow the screams of my heart
Again and again and again
I won’t repeat.

Samina is a young artist, poet, graphic designer, writer, and YouTuber. She would love to make a change in this world. In her free time, she likes to play the piano, making short films, and writing poems. She has published her pieces in various magazines like Ice Lolly Review, Potted Purple, In the Write Blog, All Ears India, Bloom Magazine, Hearth Magazine, Overachievers Magazine, Star-Gazette Magazine, and many more. She has participated in TYWI open mics, Culturally open mics, The Youth Magazine Poetry Reading Events. She is the Founder & Editor and Graphic Designer at Inertia Teens and Graphic Designer, Web Manager, and Marketing at Star-Gazette. Her Instagram is @samina2005.2020 and her blog is on this link: https://linktr.ee/Samina_Parveen


“TAKE MY BREATH AWAY” by Zarnain Hussain
IG: @zartangle/@your.senpai.z

About two months ago today,
Sitting on the hospital bed with nothing to say,
I kept asking myself why?
The only thought that hovered my mind, was to die!

Doctor said “Not to worry anymore,
You’ll be better than before.”
All I kept looking was at the floor, then at the door…
The darkness was too blinding,
with the thoughts colliding,
the will to live or the urge to die…
I couldn’t talk about it with friends or even just cry.

The thought…the overwhelming thought,
Sadness was all that it brought.
It takes my breath away,
whenever it decides to stay.

Is it ever going to end, or people just care to pretend?
I thought of talking to a friend sometime,
but I end up thinking that it’s all just a crime.
Claustrophobic is what I feel
being happy and free, is it even real?
I try so hard to make it go away,
but it keeps on waiting for me every day.
I try, I try to do the things I love,
yet these thoughts keep hovering above.

Is there no place of peace for me to find?
Or this is the life god has designed.
All I try to do is let go of it,
trying to live the life, which I had knit, piece by piece, bit by bit.
Living a better life is what I tried to commit.

Days go by, trying to live a better life,
Resisting the urges of picking up the knife.
I tried, I tried to do the things I love,
but my trying was never enough.

Doctor said, “you need to be happy to heal”,
little did he know the things that I used to feel.
It crushes my bones, ruins my soul,
I tried to hold on but I lost control.
People said to do the things that brings you peace,
the pain you have needs to be released,
They say that I acted like I was possessed,
little did they know that I was depressed.

I was caught in the darkness, I was in pain,
the kind of traumas I couldn’t explain.
the smiling happy face that I had to maintain,
all this pretending was overwhelming for my brain.

For I had to be strong, had to pretend,
when all along I knew it would never end.
I had to be happy and free from stress,
because all people cared about was my progress…
Because all people care about is my progress!


“hidden stars” by Swati Agarwal

Interesting, how they’d never know who we are
Hiding in the shadows
Asking stellar questions, and sometimes dumb too
They would never know
that we were stars of our universe

Answering, instead of asking
Understanding, instead of demanding
We looked at it as fun, now all we see
is a compulsory take-or-leave, stressful
and no longer an education

We have the brains and can even find the time
But the mind wanders to only adventurous places
Places that ignite curiosity,
not instill boredom

Now we just play dumb
We have been at it for too long, and we just want out
We do it all, stay quiet through it all
While our brains explode silently
urging the soul, the mind, the body to find
refuge elsewhere, somewhere out of the ordinary
Afterall,
they never recognized that we were the stars
sitting in the front seats of our show


“Hineni (Here I Am)” by Meorah Ha-Me’ir

Transcript:

My ruach is from a land faraway from where I was born.
I feel it when I breathe— blood rushing through my veins.

I am a native and a stranger, in a land I call my own.
My nefesh dwells in Babylon. My neshama is in Zion.

But in the Hermit Kingdom, my ruach feels still.

It breathes and I breathe.
It calls and I hear.

In the land of my fathers, I claim the ruach of my mothers.

“Ayeka?” He calls.

Hineni.
Hineni.


Poems by Jessica Yu

“A February Like This”

This room is not a castle 
And we cannot stay forever
They’re trying to kick us out 
Saying we’re behind on rent

Which I tried to pay with daydreams
My most precious of things

But apparently, you cannot afford time
With unpublished fantasies 

It stopped snowing outside
Still, I refuse to leave
The landlord threatens me
And my lover asks me why
She says we have coats and gloves
And each other

I don’t tell her that it’s not enough

How do I know?
I just do
That dark bitter taste
Won’t leave my tongue
Whenever the city’s dry cold
Seeps in through the windows

Even through the glass
I can hear the wind whistling in that
Shrill, sneering tone
Waiting for my, her, our destruction 

As the days pass, I see her
Looking out the window and 
Oh, my mind is losing to itself
New York is still beautiful in her eyes
And I wish to keep it that way, so I say
We have all we need in this bed, stay.

She nods but I feel that her mind has wandered
Far outside of this room, 
On streets she dreams of
As shiny and new

Her body is tethered still
But oh no, no it won’t last much longer

I can’t keep drowning our skin in the fickle
Naivety of white, crisp sheets

We’re in our last moments now
Before her skin is bitten by the city
Before she blames me for the 
sober disappointment 
before I can bargain with love and
refuse reality no more

I know what I already know

My daydreams were not made
To withstand the elements

Especially not in a February like this

Oh, why did I bring her here?
Oh, God
oh god, I think I should send her back

“Tangerine”

Sucking on tangerine peels
Bitter dryness, I tried to extract
Insistence of more
If I try harder
I’ll taste the juices
That were promised

I suck and 
Grimace
At its wrinkles and
Strange porous echoes 
From which nothing comes

Then comes someone 
To say you fool,
Peel the tangerine and
Throw the shell away
The wedges are where
The sweetness lives

In my defense
No one taught me
Something so simple
As to how to eat
A tangerine


“Sisterhood” by Marian Koshiba

I won’t be your role model 
Speak smooth and peacefully 
Laugh low, act discretely 
Match your expectation
All for your satisfaction.

I don’t look like everyone else
But I am not exotic either
Available for your fetishization 
Waiting for your dissection 
To tell if I am good enough.

I am bigger than myself
My voice tells stories
Beyond my own suffering 
It bears all the dreams buried
It carries the screams silenced 
It brings all our power ignored.

My soul evokes our glories 
Igniting all my sisters’ chants 
Uniting our hearts in desires
And actions for a world to change
Pursuing this new era that respects.

So look into my eyes and see the flames
All this energy can’t be restrained 
It’s a matter of time to our wishes
become a reality that remains.

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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