Special Feature on Asian American History II: Poetry Roundup

Each issue we feature pieces of prose and poetry from Asian women, nonbinary, and other gender minority writers around the world. Here are this issue’s pieces!


Poems by Zahura Akter

“Search for the Young Girl in the Picture…”
I found an old picture of my mother.
I look at the young girl and then at my mother.
                    The two do not match!
I am looking for that beautiful girl, 

whose eyes once shone with dreams, within my mother.
           But I can’t find that young lady–
Is it because I am a daughter looking at my mother!
Can grandma now still identify my mother as that bright young girl full of life?
Grandma in her old aching bones, 

can she know that this Unknown young lady/ now my mother, 

once was her daughter.
I am looking for that brilliant young girl.
Where did she go—

Where is she now!

I know after seven kids, one lost, a few days after birth, 
her model-like body became alienated.
Bags and dark circles under her doe-eyed
Long, silky hair fell thin and short.
Once her lily skins now are covered with some aging marks.
I am looking for that young lady who once had the world to offer.
Where did she go—

Where is she now!

 This mother now is  living for her children.
When did that wondrous young girl got lost and become a mother?
She burned her dreams and hopes on a pan like roasting bread to be a mother.
How long has this mother left that your girl outside that her soul became hard and creaked like old iron.
Or was that cooking for her six children long years in the kitchen, malt that young girl’s easy-going smile.
I want to fight for that magical young girl–
But this mother erased all traces of that young girl. 
I am looking for that girl who wanted to once live for herself.
Where did she go—

Where is she now!

“Two Half in One!”

After 21 years, I am still not fluent in English
I still have to stop and think—

what does that word means

I do the same with Bangla— 

due to lack of practice.

I switch my tongue between both languages.
  ¡I am Gemini!  

Two half exits within me, keeping me in balance.
The same way these languages do.
I don’t belong in one but both.

Yet,

I really don’t exist completely in either.
My footprints are here and there,  

Yet,

  I can’t find myself anywhere.


Poems by Yuu Ikeda

“VACUITY”

She clings to
a string of vacuity
to float on her life

Balloons full of vacuity
decorate her life

She always looks at them,
holding a string of vacuity

Vacuity becomes a shield
to protect her from every pain
Vacuity becomes a match
to dissolve her every pain

So, she clings to
a string of vacuity

“WHY?”

Why do you send
a demon your warmth
to soften pains that you feel?

Why do you hold a smoky knife
to give pains to someone
although you also feel these pains?

Why do you make your anger rampage
to avert your eyes from unreasonableness?

Why?

“i scream”

I scream,
holding an ice cream

It’s chaos

Yes, my life is chaos
because I scream
with an ice cream

It’s ridicule of madness

Yes, my life is ridicule of madness
because I scream
with an ice cream

Yuu Ikeda is a Japan based poet. She loves writing, reading mystery novels, and drinking sugary coffee. She writes poetry on her website. Her published poems are “On the Bed” in <Nymphs>,“Love? or Death?” in <Sad Girl Review>, “Poetry Drops Like Raindrops Do” in <JMWW>, and more.


“Tumeric and Puffed Rice” by Zayan Rahman

My grandma once read me a poem
She said never trust a mirror for it lies,
It makes you think all you are worth can be seen from the outside
You my dear are rooted in spice
A tapestry woven from all our might

I saw the pain in her eyes
As I unlearned the way of her life
Turmeric and puffed rice
Became things I no longer recognized
Cold to the warmness of cinnamon slathers
Voices wistful at political matters

A desire to obey
At the expense of my culture’s decay
They have taught me to unlove myself so sweetly,
Lulling me into this false security
With all their sanitized purity
For a history romanticized,
Revered
And painted white..

I know you said to never trust a mirror
For it only shows you skin
And not what’s within
But it is only now that I realize
How my name tells a story about a bloodline
That just wanted to survive


“happiness” by Capri Huffman

elusive
a school of silver fish in the net
all slick     small enough to slip 
drip through the cracks
gaps plink wriggle back 
into the sea 
where even the minnows swim free
so I stay on the waters and cast the nets again
and wait to haul in my next catch.


“The Nian Monster” by Brittney Pflanz

PoPo and GongGong adorn each door with couplets 
And we wait for luck in the color of red
And in the feel of smooth paper.

People fear this year is different.
Headlines rage
     –  Nian is Back! Stay Inside!
Silly journalists. 
He was never even gone.

The firecrackers still are not loud enough
To drown out the screams.
Nian rears his ugly head outside locked doors
He spreads liquid luck on sidewalks.
          On driveways.
                    Over us.
Turning us into plums.

The sticky red liquid spills into our eyes 
And chokes our lungs
Fireworks explode between our ears
The sound of each bang buried 
In our brains like bullets

We try to send him fleeing 
But instead he mocks
The sound of our drums and crashing of cymbals
ching-chang-chong
Each sound he makes hammers away at my soul
Like my ancestors did the railroads
                     –chink
We raise our voices
Raise awareness 
To the slaughter
the terror
But you turn a blind eye.
“Nian is a myth, he doesn’t exist”
But he does. 
He is real and I hear him talking 
louder with every word you spit—

And sometimes 
He’s in us.

When he finally retreats 
To terrorize another town
he lingers in the sighs of relief,
festers in the thoughts
“he is finally gone.”

But don’t they know better?
He.
Always.
     Returns.

And in those moments, his influence grows stronger
In my brothers and sisters.
And I weep. 
For he begins to destroy us from the inside out.
I weep for those tired from the fight. 
They only make him stronger.
I weep for his victims,
Because New Years is about luck
About family.
About new beginnings.

But we don’t get beginnings here.

Only ends.

Brittney Pflanz (she/her) is a 19-year old music student navigating life and society as a mixed individual. She identifies as Chinese American, Inuk/Inuit, and overall multi-racial. She enjoys reading and writing, as well as playing percussion and raising awareness and taking action to make change regarding intersectional social and political issues. She attended her first protest in 5th grade and uses her platform to uplift other communties in anyway she can. She also enjoys Squishmallows, noodles (any kind!), and bubble tea a little too much.

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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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.

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