Each issue we feature pieces of prose and poetry from Asian women, nonbinary, and gender minority writers around the world. Here are this issue’s pieces!
Poems by Audrey Kim
The rain comes down and I overflow, fears and feelings dripping down my skin like blood flowing from a head wound. Cloud vapor condenses, precipitates, penetrates puddles like bullets as the thunder holds my grief at gunpoint.
I pound the air and atmosphere. I pummel it, I inhale mutilated oxygen, and exhale inverted flesh. I hurt; I harm myself; I stand willingly in the rain; I learn to become an umbrella.
My mother thinks I enjoy the pressure as if standing at the cliff’s edge means I crave death. She doesn’t know I do it for survival. Mother, in breaking myself, I have become unbreakable.
By the time those rejections roll in like high tide I will have drowned many times already and will know how to swim. If I cry and scream and feel worthless today, grief will feel as familiar as a friend when I fail to get into my dream school.
Please don’t worry about me; I won’t develop immunity without catching a cold. So just — let me stand out here, in the rain. I promise I won’t live here forever.
You are an off beat individual but I move with your motions like they’ve always been mine.
How I long to unmake you, to pull at your strings
You are a cryptic dream, and would fall apart like one: Lovely, fleeting, and then far away. You are the green stretches of the Earth, the flower garlands of spring, the angel hair I long to braid; hum low on my neck, coy snakes of the Garden; I want to sink my teeth into your nature.
You are a caricature of reality, the prophetic devil on my shoulder I can’t seem to shrug off; you always urge me to break free of the circles I walk in.
I love your out of tune trumpet of a laugh and how your too bright eyes catch fire; The smell of smoke when you speak poems into your cigarette makes my eyes water; makes me go absolutely feral.
And as if I could forget your hazardous smile, climbing up one corner and grasping at the edge of the other.
Consider this a testament to how deeply I love you. Consider these roundabout metaphors the vessels of your praise.
Twisted beginning… knot of feelings… in my stomach… bullet proof vest. My fragile entrails… flinch at your fingers… stun gun paralysis submission obedience love.
You’re tying them… into ribbons… my liver, my arteries… calling it pretty… calling it a blood oath… face pale. But I feel the light.
I am a bird with you. I am Icarus with you. We are sun bound, sun seeking; Hot oil seeps from your palm. Will you… light me… on fire.
The running never stops… and the surprises keep coming, some good, some bad, some in between. But as we laid there on the cement, staring at the sky and pretending to float, I realized… that I could never… live without you. And I still —
Each passing day is marked with the quiet scar of absence. The scars on my body barely bother me. It’s that feeling of being left behind that stings like a shot. I never wanted it to end, not even in death.
A forever open ended, a forever possibility, an eternal red string that doesn’t mean soulmates, but survival. We were dancing at the edge of a cliff and I didn’t mind if death, or anyone, was watching, waiting, for the fall.
It’s true, I held my breath around you, but I hope you’re waiting at the end, so I can lose it again, and again… and again… and again.
Poems by Ashley Kim
She wakes with nothing short of haste No rule nor land too tall to breach Her life a song of conquering A short-lived thing of catching flame And though each day is nothing but a fight to be a lonely light She wakes each day with far-off dreams and dares not let her eyes lose sight
I am tired. I string air from my lungs, dig for weeds in a dying garden, tear my fingernails on soil. I am drenched in cold life, sustained on shaking legs, fueled by a rusting heart. I lie in bitter warmth of night, chew at threads of yarn, chase shadows on the wall. Yes, I am tired.
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.