The Romance 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!

Seaside Reflection
For Bing

by Emily Avakian

There is something to be said about a connection

A connection so deep it serves as a reflection

The waters of my heart still

Free at last from waves

You became my moon bringing light to dark days

Illuminating my world in so many ways

No matter how dark the water

With our connection the path to shore is paved

Deep is the ocean but not as deep as the hopes we have made

 


 

A Friendly Reminder

by Hanna Zealu Ysabel V. Apolinar

Remind me of how we began.

How our eyes met and instantly despised each other.

We were two wandering souls who didn’t want to wonder because even the thought of thinking of us was a sitcom waiting to be laughed at.

But, the joke was all on me.

You became the person I would laugh at and cry with.

You were the rest that I needed at the end of every day.

You made me want the best in you bring out the best in me.

You gave me this feeling I thought I never needed 

and I wish you knew.

So, here’s a friendly reminder of how we got here

 


In love:

by Hanna Zealu Ysabel V. Apolinar

1. impress me?

 

You don’t have to impress me.

Every string you pluck does not compare to the music of your voice

Your voice is the sound that I long for when everything just seems to suck

It’s the tone that I want to listen to every night as I rest my head on your arms because they’re somehow warmer than any pillow ever known

 

Trying to impress me will change nothing because everything you sketch cannot fathom how much of a masterpiece you are 

You’re the only painting I would flaunt to the world, the only art I would display in the museum of my life 

 

Oh you wouldn’t be able to impress me

Have you seen the person in the mirror? 

Their mind overpowers all the wisest men

It’s the home I’ve been running from all my life,

the most beautiful thing I’ll forever be grateful to have been in

 

2. sand

We’re like words written in the sand 

with hope that every stroke will last a lifetime

but tides come and waves flow,

washing all of us into the sea as if we never existed 

so hold on to every grain, every memory

let go and let the current lead us to where we’re supposed to be

 

Heartbroken: 

 

1. my world

 

I’ve never felt love quite like you before

I’ve smiled wider than the skies we used to gaze into, but I’d always end up staring at the scenery i prefer, you

now, it’s just darkness up there

no stars to align

no moon to brighten up my horizon 

no you to lie here next to me 

to tell me that “it’s alright.

the darkness will pass. there’s gonna be a new day waiting to amaze us”

the thing is, you’re my sky

you’re my star

you’re my moon

you’re my light

when you faded, so did my world

 

2. the jacket

 

Do you remember the time you wore my jacket, noticed how comfortable it was, and decided to keep it?

Well, I forgot about it until today.

Who would have thought that a simple “ding dong” 

could bring back so many memories.

A simple “ding dong” 

could bring you back with the symbols of what I thought that four letter word meant because we all know that gifts was the only language i could speak.

As you hand over a box filled with pieces that were reminders of me

the only words I could utter were

“keep them”.

keep them, throw them, burn them

it doesn’t matter 

Keep them like how you kept me hoping for so long.

Throw them like how you threw away the could haves and would haves.

Burn them like how you burned my walls down.

It doesn’t matter anymore 

It’s not as if you can come back and hand over a box filled with pieces of me i lost

 


 

a note to self.

by Arianna Louie

You are a mean girl. 

You pick yourself apart and bully the salt into self-imposed wounds. And when your brain bleeds your skin red, you scrutinize how the folds of your elbows, knees wrinkle in the blood.

You dislike how the ends of your hair fade into splits and how the scars on your cheeks are rusted into your skin. 

You are constantly, dreadfully afraid of time. How it’s rushing past you. How you just can’t seem to keep up. You are so worried about losing it that you write every word, grasp at every thought hoping, pleading to remember every piece. 

You hate that you love to nitpick at your nails and the scrapes on your chin. 

You are too self-aware and you pay too much attention to your self-conceived perception of yourself. 

You want to be pretentious. You want to be charming. You want to be smart. You want to know words that are at least three syllables long and twist at the ends. You want to read like how you did when you were younger. You want to learn so much. But you are stubborn in your talents. You stay confident in your comfort zone. You are hesitant at starting anew. 

But you are trying. 

 

And I love that you love drawing stars on your wrists and smiley faces on your hands. 

That you love when the light hits the side of a building, preferably when it’s a skyscraper. 

That you love the small moments. The quiet moments. Maybe because you are quiet or maybe in the quiet there is peace. 

That you love foggy mornings. The smell of rain the next day. How everyone unanimously stares at the sunset. At the sunrise. 

That you are a listener. An open ear and ready shoulder prepared to hold their weights. 

That you love being alone in your own company and you love being surrounded by people you love. 

That you love compliments and you love giving compliments. In fact, you brim with excitement when writing them in your head and you love the way these fluttering words make them feel special.  

That you don’t believe in a god but you believe in the universe. So you try your best not to stomp down on others and you bite your tongue down because you know better.  

That you love dreaming of the future even though ninety-nine percent of the time you are terrified.

That you appreciate the beauty in simplicity. Fading seasons. Long mornings. Errands on Sundays. Bike rides with hands-free. Open windows. Sunlight streams on the sides of tables. Reminiscing. Pinched cheeks. Bare feet on the pavement. Warmth of the sun. The line in the horizon where the sky kisses the earth. 

That you love tea in the mornings. Tea in the evenings. Tea at the peak of the night. 

That you love how your eyes turn into crescent moons when you smile. How it’s one of your favorite parts of you.   

That you love when street lamps switch on one by one in brisk evenings. It’s yellow light in blue air. The empty streets. 

That you peel yourself up from regret and with a strength I have long forgotten, you keep dredging onwards. You are someone better than who I ever was.

 


 

Night Nurse

by Joan Missiye 

You wake up alone in silent cold.

Images of a dream follow you to the bathroom sink.

Barefoot children in a sunlit meadow, their giggles

hurt as much as they delight.

You open the door to the dark sidewalk

and you see your young mother at the door 

thousands of lifetimes ago.

You are a little girl walking away 

with a bag of boiled yams for lunch.

 

You know all too well

mothers can spill their tears inside of them.

You forced yourself not to feel anything

when you pushed your children off your arms

at the departure gate.

 

They made you think there was nothing here.

They made you think it was fine to leave your children.

They said you were headed to the land of dreams

where every day they let you know 

you did not actually belong.

 

Our country has become a country that people left.

It hurt too much to miss those we left behind.

So, we bring that hurt with us to the future

to the people that will love us.

And even hate us.

 

And now you are at the arrival gate 

your own children watch you, a stranger now.

You grab at them, desperately missing them 

even as they are now in front of you.

But you are holding a newborn baby 

that is not yours,

in a land

that is not yours

in a dream

that is no longer yours.

 

Which is the dream?

 


to the boy in 4th period,

by Caitlin Louie

comparably we were never alike but starved and longing for the attention, 

you spoon fed me those side glances and crackling jokes as if we were anything but close

(i think i made you up inside my head)

you didn’t look like someone who could break my heart

because you didn’t 

no, you made me dread the quiet and i resorted to pressing my thumb onto the violet and soft ocean grass veins just to feel the thumping of my pulse and i flinched when your laughter bellowed through the halls and now i’m left grimacing at your name and muttering to god why in pity, he made me sit next to you

i never loved you and you never loved me 

this is a given

because i hated the person i was when i was with you – a girl of milk and bones dry heaving sprinkles of laughter till the period bell rang and your ego was filled

you never knew what i was feeling and that obliviousness was what you fell for

 but there’s a boy

who passes me after 5th and onwards to 6th

i’m curious about him

we met at camp

when the preacher cried for god and we were dirtying our mouths with fistfuls of gummies till our stomachs ached and the cards ran out

he said he noticed me around the hallways

and i asked about his band

but you know what’s strange, is that i didn’t feel looked down upon when i spoke to him, 

isn’t that funny

(you would laugh)

maybe because i didn’t feel like i was breaking my legs, my personality, for someone who never cared to begin with

maybe it took time to understand when to say no

(you always lived for the rush)

i’m older now and sometimes your voice still echoes beneath my eardrums

but i’ve learned to swat it away

i’m no longer weak to praise from indifferent eyes

i’m picking up the pieces of me you carelessly left behind

and i’m going to wave to the boy who passes me after 5th and onwards to 6th 

so thank you ex-crush, for teaching me that love wasn’t meant to be exhausting

 

xoxo,

the girl you always once smiled at

 

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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