March 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!


Poetry by m.m

“Broken Clocks.”

 I’m stuck in a moment.

I’ve lost track of time.

I can’t move forward and

I can’t rewind.

“Baby’s Breath”

An empty garden.

A seed that would not bloom.

A spring this heavy

always stays with you.

“Icy”

She looked like an Angel

with a voice soft as snow, but

she could freeze hell over

with a whisper that

Could make the

Devil

Cold.

“Chaser”

They wonder what

it’s like to

taste a sip of Gin

as it drips 

from those cherry lips.

“Sunday Brunch”

There’s something so divine

about that sunday type of love.

where  you cuddle in bed

with champagne on our tongues.

Making avocado toast 

while  we hum along

to records of our favorite songs.

Holding each other close

as we make sweet love.

taking in these moments

where we become one.

As the day moves forward we’ll hold on

until next sunday comes along.

“Butterflies”

Meeting you made

me want to change

my colors for the better.

With a hint of love

we blossomed into something

rare and special.


“Today” by Reeti Roy // IG: reetiroy

 Today took the-
wind out of my sails,
under a jagged sky.
What followed was a shifting gaze
a hapless haze
atop a half-moon tree.
The sky-
 was painted midnight blue
a surrogate for rainbow hues
scars against
the hard-won fights.
today took the-
the owl from its delight
of watching other feathers fly.
you came in-
 bursting at the seams.
 And dreaming many 
half-dreamt dreams
an antidote for fireflies.


“bien affectueusement” by Khushi Ramnani 

underneath the cool linen we watch as the light escapes from our silhouettes on the wall. 
let the swirls of the rose-tinted clouds dissipate in to the blue. 

paint me with your lips. let your words contour my shadow. soften my edges with your broken breath. kiss my palms warm, as our thoughts swim untethered. 

spill your secrets into my hair, while you trace the patterns of the rays. name the streetlights after me, when you remember my scent. 

lock your lips with our hushed wishes and our duvet talks, spin what we had to silk, and dress me with that gold. 

i would tell you how beautiful the sunset was but the window was too dirty and the sky’s blushes all blended behind this summer’s white cast. 

my plants no longer listen to me though i raise them with love and my violet playlist on shuffle, their leaves flicker yellow too often as they twist and turn around their pots as though i sheltered them naught. should i be free them? but what of the heatwaves and the beetles and the cars that would strain their hearts? 

perhaps they don’t know how grateful they should be, under the set a.c as they sip on filtered water. or maybe they’d find solace amongst the ruthless jungle that festers within our city, fighting for shade and basking under bridges that lead across rather than beyond. 

for now i’ve named them like i’d name our children who’d grow to be just as relentless and chaotic. from clementine and jerry lee, names that would scare my brown family. i suppose each plant documents a different time in my life where i felt lonely without you, and now they’ve grown to be such beautiful earthlings with their six leaves and more. 

i can’t seem to let go of the thought that someday these plants will be a home i once forgot. 


“Disoriented” by Bona Park

Who interrupted the quiet
buzz in the streets
Of downtown Laredo?
Who drove a hole into the
window of my father’s store with
rocks and contempt?

I left Michigan in a
frenzy to return to the haven
of this Texas border town,
and found that
the music of discord
greeted me here.

An air of paranoia entered the country
with the arrival of the pandemic.
Mislabeled as a Chinese virus,
blame shifted toward
East Asians, regardless of
our country of origin.

People now come charging
after us with their words and their fists.
They don’t know us,
our histories or our struggles,
but they glare at
our slanted eyes, and
brand us as Other.

Long ago,
my eyes met those of
a young Mexican kid,
through a wired
fence that divided
both our homes.
She greeted me strangely.
She called me Chinita.

But she was wrong.
She couldn’t see how the rivers of
Tejano, Korean, and American
cultures merged within me.

I didn’t feel very different from her,
but she called me by another name,
and I felt myself receding.

One afternoon,
my grandmother came into the house
soaked.

She was gardening, when
two teenage girls
shot her with toy water guns.
Unable to speak a word of English,
she sprayed them back with the
garden hose and they bolted
towards the pavement,
laughing.

After hearing this,
I was so angry,
my tears tasted metallic.

I remember following her to church
early one morning.
Church was the one space
where I did not feel out of place,
where my silence was not 
an act of fear,
but of solemnity.

With our heads bowed down,
the parishioners, my grandmother, and I
recited the same prayer in different languages:
저희 죄인을 위하여 빌어주소서.

Ruega por nosotros, pecadores.
Pray for us sinners.

Although the world starts to skewer us,
fracture our bones,
target our businesses,
the sun can never set on our Asian heritage.

Despite the hailstorm of bigotry,
we will land on
the soft ground of hope.

We will regain our dignity,
and not rest
until we are rightfully seen.

Moving forward with my
faith as my armor,

I ask for that salve,
compassion,
which does not discriminate.

I ask that He
allot each of us our
portion.


“Being Nervous” by @hsouen on IG

[2/3/2021]

Eyes perk open at 7:27AM on a Tuesday morning.
Blast! Blast! Blast! Blast! Blast!
Dogs simultaneously woof! Woof! Woof!
The air is filled with thicker than usual fog.
Or is that smoke?
What is happening?
Those were not gunshots, were they?
Those were not loud and long enough to be gunshots.
How can I be sure when nobody knows?
Do I sense something unusual?
Has someone just committed a crime?
The water in the kettle on the stove has not boiled.
The lights and circuits inside flickered suspiciously,
According to my family just moments ago.
No internet connection to check what has happened.
Residents asleep at an otherwise quiet time.
The electricity office did not know till informed.
The murders have begun their daily cawing.
When there is nothing that civilians can do 
But carry on with their routine while in impatient wait.
Oh wait, I hear loud sounds again at 8:19AM.
No, that was someone washing their sarong.
Electric power is restored at 8:22AM.


“Adrift” – Spoken Word Track by Christy Ku (Prod. Nush)

Transcript:

My first breath was the sea
I’ve been drifting ever since.

I live in borrowed rooms and rented time,
no walls will ever remember me 
but my body carries the memory 

of every place as I sleep.
These houses borrow me too
names, hands and bodies they’ve been through,
fingerprints and atoms from every move.
Do rented homes make their souls from everyone they knew?

I leave homes better than before 
dance in their dark on the kitchen floor.
I clean and care and adorn and
restore order in every corner.
They’ll hold me for a tenancy, 
but it’s always temporary, 
we’ll move on to another somebody.

I disown the past like dead weight 
to make space and keep sailing
but I can’t explain why these boxes
feel heavier leaving each front door.
So much of me left in houses I no longer know,
how much of me is left is an unknown.
It doesn’t get easy, I’m still grieving.
How many goodbyes until I find my home?

I can’t forget my childhood bedroom
where the ghosts and the past are buried 
where I hid the real me beneath the mattress and drawers
where I locked the doors knowing what I locked in with me
where I believed 
the world must be bigger than this, better than this.
One day I ran, I didn’t look back 
and I’m still that kid with a backpack
trying to disappear by the train tracks

taking the batteries out of my phone.
And that house is long gone, only dialtones,
everyone’s gone on to their time zones.
But at night I think I’m in that room.
I used to dream of getting out 
now in dreams I’m in that house.

With each move I don’t know what I’ll hear.
Locals think only they have rights to live here.
And you know what? They probably do.
I move into neighbourhoods they put years into 
their feet are more rooted with lived truths 
of systematic misuse 
and generational issues
and I just want a roof 
before I move.

Instead I’m under scrutiny
racism and misogyny coming to bother me 
like I’m an unwanted anomaly, a novelty. 
Local warfares never cease or desist
there’s distrust and unease
no neighbours want me.
You know they used to follow us?
Throw slurs or rocks –
is this how you’re supposed to grow up?

Your kids are still staring at me. 

When will I stop having to move?
We’re unrooted unanchored untethered
trying to get it together
it’s breathless up here. 
We are indefinitely 
Generation Rent 
we’re left bereft in debt
except for those 
inheriting wealth instead of traumas.

I’ve been asking why I don’t have survivor’s guilt. 
But it’s because I’m still adrift.


“Broken Parts” by Joan Marshall-Missiye

 We found each other and we forgot to heal our broken parts.
We forged a journey and drank happiness too soon too fast.
We ran through corn fields laughing,
drenched under the heavy rain,
and drunk from millet beer.
We sped down red dirt roads on your motorbike,
my head resting on a cozy dent at the base of your neck,
our skins collecting the Harmattan dust.

We looked up at the sky in the darkest part of night,
stars beyond stars,
as if forever could never catch up.
We stood together on a hill,
in the middle of nothing and everything,
looking across a hazy landscape bathed in rosy dust blown in from the Sahara,
to the horizon we will never reach.
We could have soared to the setting sun.

And then you found yourself in a car with me
on the other side of the world.
My fiery anger melting the frozen road.
The unhealed parts of me showing themselves.
You took me in your arms, held me close to quiet the rage,
your heart beating against mine.

But there is a little boy crouching inside you,
Hugging himself in his loneliness,
Wishing for someone to wipe the tears falling on the empty floor.
And he holds on to you in a dark spiral.
And I am again your enemy, the one you cannot trust.
You hear voices that I cannot.
You believe in truths that I cannot.

I would move mountains to set you free,
From this spiral that is drowning you.
I throw myself in just to be with you,
but I hit a wall again and again.
I reach out and feel nothing.

Once in my loneliness I asked myself if I could still love you.
And I saw you walking up a hill on a path of wildflowers
under a never-ending blue sky that shimmered in the sun.
Your shoulders hunched over the stroller
where our daughter lay sleepy in the languid summer breeze.
I put a hand on my chest to soothe the clanging ache inside me.
I love you still and maybe that is all I can do.


“Lock In Moisture” by Tess Harold

Not since I was a teenager have I had so much time to moisturise.
Hours spent exfoliating as if I could scrub my way to a new me.
A glowing me.
Trying fake tans, each promising that airbrushed model bronze, to hide my bumpy chicken skin, my blue veins drawing maps on my legs.
Sex feels like something that happens to other people again.
Nights wasted messaging guys who frankly set a low bar for both effort and conversation.
Waiting for life to start.
Breathe it in. This second adolescence.
At least this time you have booze. And the internet.
Workout videos at home trying to get abs.
Always with the abs.
Looking at coupled-up people, wondering what they know.
I feel 15 again but this time with grey hairs.
I live in my head again, biding my time.
Making plans and going for walks — but never touching.
I’ve never spent so much time moisturising.

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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