June II Issue: 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 Rozlind Silva

“To Angelica—a 17-year-old Lumad student”

Paradise means free land.
The exorcism of demons
and the evil that drinks the earth dry.

But you are the blessing.

The tubig ng buhay that cleanses the people,
nourishes life into bodies,
into stems,
and spines alike.

The babaylanes salute you.

The katalonans spring in nearby groves,
in the water underneath your feet.

The herbalaryos,
my great-grandmother,
sprouts in the soil,

and you,
young goddess,
Harvest it all.

“monday mourning”

today, sun arrived with sorrow
air heavy, breathing souls
lost too soon

the night takes
& takes

the boy
perches atop the galaxy
begs the void to swallow him

he points hands to heaven
& the police make a falling star

of his glow
the morning came.
& we wept.

“Mama Amy”

This poem is for Mamang Amy Baclig
Nurse, Mother, Ate
A woman whose glisten is modest, yet lights a room
Like a candle in pitch black

Like a nurse in a pandemic .

⅓ of nurses who passed in the pandemic were Filipino
100% of them braved through history in the making
all scrubs, n94s, and ppe shortages alike so

This poem is for nurses
a eulogy for the sacrifices laid down for this country
& the dawn of the future where we are all safe because of your hands

Maraming salamat will never be enough.

I wish you didn’t have to die for us to live. 
That we protected you
as hard as you fought to protect us. 

We know the flag of the Philippines has four stars. 
Maybe it is because our people are burning just to keep the world warm.

Maybe it is because our mothers are the lighthouse guiding our safe journeys home
Our nurses the speckled twinkle of tired light that dare shine in the darkest night 

Maybe Mama Amy is just a reflection of the light coursing through our bodies already.

Maybe the fragments of her are reflecting the luminescence of four stars leading a country to safety.

To Mama Amy
To every nurse and healthcare worker:

Your struggles will never be in vain.
We will fight to protect our protectors. 
We wont let you down, but instead
let you pass like a dawn
Like the morning sun over the horizon
Sharing its Light
With all of us


“What makes me” by Nimisha Sharma

I am my fathers pride and my mothers courage,
Made from passion to love and survive.
I am a thousand stars and the moon,
Even if I break, it’ll always be to let light in.
I am my past and my future,
Each time rising like a phoenix from the ashes of experience.
I am the storms and I am the sun,
I’ve learnt to harness my seasons in the tempest of life.
I am grief but I’m also hope,
Where tears dissolve into embers of fiery faith.
I am who the Gods made.
I am me.


Poems by Marielle Valmores

“Home Away”

Cries of callous mockery and disdain fill the streets
With us against them crawling through every corner
Thorns and claws that push away voices into nothingness
Cold shadows drawing near in every step, although

The rays would arise and bring forth more light
Crimson walls crumble down to build a vast bridge
Muted voices will turn to laughter and bliss
As a mosaic spirits of culture merge into harmony

Flying away from a land they have long-called home
Stepping into uncertainty while planting a new life
Paving brick-paths for the younger ones
While they open doors into daylight

“Oh, How I miss”

The taho vendor singing the morning as he carries buckets ‘round the streets
The pitter-patter of children skipping on the rain-soaked pavements
The chatter of neighbors as they greet each other with plates of home-cooked dishes
The chapel air infused with the sweet sampaguita and the musky burn of votive candles

The motley of bright hues floating about as festival music fills the warm air
The close-packed jeepneys flying through the bustling streets of Cubao
The layers of colorful rice cakes laid atop hand-woven trays
The afternoon spent spread on cushions of green grass as the golden sun settles down

“For Better, For Worse”

Buttered toasts and crackling bacon sway through the room
The hum of grinding coffee beans lifts up his eyelids
His wife’s laughter echoes the ringing of the church bells
She cradles his face like a fragile cup of tea
He traces the auburn curls stumbling down her shoulders
Her kiss drifts through the air like the last verse of their vows
Then
Whispers arrive, knocking at their front porch
Her office hours turned into days of confusion
Scarlet wine stains the curve of her lips as she grins
He searches the depth of her beady eyes for answers
Her touch grows cold, waiting for another man’s warmth
Yet, he continues to tie together each shred of his trust

He awakens by the tap of her heels against the floorboards
Dawn rises as she climbs onto their bed, silence fills the gap
He stares at the band embraced tight around his finger
Burned underneath: Always and Forever


Poems by Melanie Lau

“so quiet”

i don’t know what you’ve never told me i learn
my grandmother’s name on her gravestone

stones sit as grave and silent as a lifetime
memory serves me the slim pickings of a story

half a history is swallowed by the time i’m 20 i
want to retrace your diaspora across the Pacific

but a clean death leaves no traces of a life
i fear so much about having no one

i fear so much about having only myself
my quiet has never been quiet like yours

my quiet is magma—virulent, roiling red the
very core of my story is molten and buried

your love is too buried to even be heard
i don’t know what you’ve never told
me

“外婆 – Mom’s Mother (Passing Away in Four Stages)”

stage I – warning 

there is something wrong . her mouth . a salmon sliced open . pupils unfocused . eyes milky wells . she coughs up body’s first sign of flooding . there is a wreckage inside of her . 

she flees into herself . an internal war for her system’s survival . heart desperate . keep blood blushing at fingerpads . 

time suspends as solace . just enough of a moment to believe there is no such thing as fate . only wishes . only what we feel we deserve . a tranquil nontruth . 

stage II – a quiet unleash 

the vines in her dermis gray . 

my mother tells me not to think about it . like she can wash off her grief with water . memories absorbed into droplets . waterbound trauma . slowly . the water turns murky . my mother presents herself as fresh . clean . 

i have to think about it . i think about it . and think about it . until my own head hemorrhages . because my grandmother bled . and cried out . and laid on her back cold in the day’s warm embrace . and the sky shed all signs of weather . cloudbare . revealed to be a true blue . nothing to hide how still . how naked . how empty . it really was . 

stage III – plea 

monks hum . buddha sits golden and silent in the temple center . 

my mother does not cry . yet her sisters hold her . hands cupping elbows . the smallest touches . like using fingertips to lift a body up . 

flowers frame seven portraits . there are seven faces of my grandmother . i cannot look away . they gaze across the room . they all smile at me . like they know i am here . her faces float above a table of offerings . fruits sent off to her spirit by the lighting of candles .

if my grandmother is reborn . buddha . i want the sweetness of oranges and pomelos to touch her lips again . 

stage IV – you, my grandmother 

when the monks stop humming . we pour water into the grass . ground steeped in blessings . 

i wonder how it feels . to have the warm weight of the earth on top of you . like you could be but a layer of dirt yourself . compress until you have become no different than the roots and grasses . 

we place flowers on your grave . daisies . dahlias . and when it is time for me to return home. you are a pile of flowers on an endless hill of green . 

i gaze at the sky . the one which wraps the earth in a blanket of blue . sometimes . the blanket is orange and pink . sometimes . gold . 

外婆 . i wish . more than anything . i could breathe you in .

“room with no direct sunlight”

my room in boston is so small. it is just a hallway with a bathroom attached.

i don’t call this place home. 

outside my window is a wall. when the sun hits its highest point, 
the wall turns white. 

my grandmother’s hair is the color of snow. 

her hair sifting through my fingers—my first snowfall. 

my room echoes with my father’s voice. he asks me if i know how to survive the cold.

snow sits as grains of salt on my windowsill. heaven’s urn has tipped over upon the city. 

outside my window is a wall. when the sun hits its highest point, 
the wall turns white. 
sunshine streaming down the brick. 

a memory: my grandmother’s legs give out. she falls to the floor 
and lays mute like nothing is wrong. my father 
grows so angry he spits when he shouts. my grandmother’s face wrinkles with hurt.

i am pale as a ghost. but i am not a ghost. 

if i were a ghost, i could walk through walls, i could see my grandmother again. a memory: my father demands i stay home. he does not ask what he can do to make me stay. 

my father does not know 
i left home because i am tired of him 
looking through me. 

outside, death is just falling from the sky. 

my tears taste of salt. sunshine streaming down my cheeks. 

the night after my grandmother dies, it snows so gently. i catch a snowflake in my palm.
i think that snow is a sign of love. i think she is watching over me. 

if the world is an oyster, people are pearls, lacquered and lacquered with grief.

home was my forehead pressed to my grandmother’s neck. 

i refuse to be my father. i swear he was the reason for half my grandmother’s bruises, patches of blood just beneath the surface of her rice paper skin. 

the afterlife is a box with a bathroom attached. 

the snow outside is white ash on my windowsill, light and loose, gleaming.

crushed pearls.


“Simply Beautiful” by Lyba Salman

Had you noticed her crooked white teeth
when she smiled?
A smile she wore like armor
And used like oxygen

The beauty that came from her perspective
Her damn laugh, sung like a melody.
Her words of intelligence,
Dripping like honey

How she hid her every imperfection with a certain grace
And even with a world so obsidian
She was applauded for her dynamic to see it so vividly
She was oh so beautiful the roses wept in envy

The way her beauty cascaded to what we see
Her body was Aphrodite’s child
Painting a delicate image
Deceiving how powerful she truly was

How do I make you understand?
That looking at her,
Was like looking at magic
Make footprints on the earth.

Implicitly beautiful
She was lost art.
A creation of confusion, soul and goddamn beauty
A meaningful masterpiece in this meaningless abyss
Simply like an old film

Had you noticed her infinite desire to cherish even a moment so insignificant
And her burn to dream?
And how she bides for the unspeakable
Which to her will one day come true

How do I make the world see such beauty?
How do I make her see herself?
Shall I make the birds sing it?
Or make the trees dance to show it?
For she did not dare to believe
The whispers in her ears
That she was simply beautiful.


“the model minority” by Malvika Shrimali

screams and cries and kicks.
thrashes like a shark in hot water so they can’t fetter our frail body
with the cold steel of expectations made by an angry people
who never took the time to know us.
we have been cut open with kids’ scissors
and dissected in a high school history class.
the model minority. they poke at our organs and our parents
our spices and our science.
then they force us back together with gorilla glue and wonder why our stomach hurts.
we learn our own names incorrectly
such that they may be a nicely wrapped gift on a foreigner’s tongue,
the same foreigners who loot and riot and rob us of our American dream.
they pushed us onto the runway, naked and gagged
and painted red, white and blue. the model minority.
still, we remain convinced our tears will mend the wounds of that jagged scalpel
and for that day our parents have cried and our siblings cry and we will teach our children to cry.
but for the white man who kept us in a cage and laughed at our pain like we were mourning dogs
no longer can we imagine peacefully that angel island
will deliver bread into our praying hands.


Poems by Zenia Kazmi

“Prose;”

My body is too vulnerable to be erased of all the wounds,
They keep reminding me I’m weapon for ending all these
miscreants. A warrior in a women ready to place my wrath.

“Poem;”

Is it wrong to say that I was the villain of my tale.
I expected him to be my hero but I was Cleopatra designed
By Lucifer itself.
When the angels attacked my kingdom I expected him to
Be my saviour while my witches were already being that
without any instructions.
He didn’t gave up on, didn’t unloved me. I did all of that. I did
It to myself.
He couldn’t tear twisted chapters that were inscribed in my
Dark Scripture but I couldn’t let him suffer
my sabotages I sat him free without hearing at my heart.
They told me now I should rewrite it all. But why should I do it?
When I can continue my faith with the flaws.
When I can befriends with the demons that once lived in my head.
When I can live with the memories that I ended for love's sake.
When I can be guardian of other immortals.
Why should I disgrace Lilith? To stand with a man’s strength rather
than
crawling on my feet to reconstruct my wings.
(the dark alternation. For when the world is trying to be pure and
pious while making you feel like an outcast or impure one)

Author theme description: Trying to recover from a disastrous phase of life by expecting one’s past.


Poems by Nidhi Reddy (IG: @nidhisreddy)

“Comatose cacophony”

Flit, flat, flitter, flutter
my focus floats to fiery fibs and foibles
I’m feeble from the fictional facts and fables
I flail, failing to free myself from the Feed

Buzz, blip, babble, bumble
I bend to balance the bad in my bloodstream
but am bewitched by the brightness of the Blue Beam
it bleeds my brain, I blink to block the blur

Ding, drip, dribble, dabble
I dip and dive and delve into darkness
Do I dare to drop my device down,
and decisively delete my dependency?

“no worries if not”

another year, another reminder
that we will work through a pandemic
that we will work through an attempted coup
that we will work through social unrest and unjust deaths
that we will work, work, work regardless of
the ice caps melting
the hurricanes, ever more frequent, landing on entire countries
smoke and carbon cooking us all to a medium rare

we will work on silly work
little pieces that ultimately are inconsequential
frivolous, flippant functions, really
and on top of our silly work,
we have our side projects,
or ‘side hustles’ to make them sound more favorable,
the real work we care about,
or at least will somehow get us out of the cycle of needing to work,
hobbies that turn into forced passion for a capitalist machine,
the dream.

i would imagine if the aliens landed,
and news outlets everywhere report on it
we would briefly look up from our screens, and say,
“wow, that’s wild”
and continue working until our shift ends


“Fight for me” by Chu Chu

Fight for me
More
Much more than you’ve done before 
One time isn’t enough
You can’t walk out that door

Grieve for me, cry 
I see it in your eyes
Talk to me, lie 
Once more before I die


“My Kinkakuji” by Melani Carrié

In your gaze, enter Winter.
Velvet frost across 
a steel blue, glassy lake
Evergreens bearing the weight 
Of a million snowflakes 

A rustle and a gentle nudge 
Snow falls to the ground 
A wistful sigh and soft goodbye…

Your golden light shines on. 

In your words, Spring like sakura
Transient, resilient life. 
Shades of jade and rosé 
Surround this haven placed on Earth

A hint of a smile, 
A sparkle in cinnamon eyes 
that linger upon…

Your golden light. 

In your kiss, sweat and Summer.
Skin under cerulean skies 
Where sunlight lies, 
The Celestial God, 
reflecting the beauty and majesty 
That is 

You and gold and light. 

In your arms, Autumnal bronze and terracotta.
Sweetest maple
Glazing the lazing branches with warmth
Skimming the surface
Of the water beside

You and gold. 

A gentle touch…
Calloused to soft 
Rough to tender 
Palm to palm
Heart to heart 
The winds blow softly through the trees that surround… 

You. 

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.

We hope you’ll join us.

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