Broken Tongues By Alex Dang

Broken Tongues

I remember not knowing how to speak.

When I was in pre-school, my family was worried
that no one would understand me.
I spoke in this Frankenstein monster tongue
of Vietnamese and English.
(The gaps between two broken
languages cannot make a full sentence.)

Every other Wednesday, during kindergarten,
I’d be called out of class to fix my speech.

My words
blurred like hummingbird wings
and the song came out as a whirlwind:
too quick to comprehend,
too fast to decipher.

There were strands of line
pouring out with different clicks
and keys. A broken Morse code
that twisted wicked confusion easy.

I learned how to smooth and comb
the knots of my talk at the same time
I was taught Chinese in school.
No one would expect chipped china plates
lined along my soft gums.

I only mastered English, though.
During family gatherings,
uncles and aunts
spoke slowly to me,
sentences hanging in the air,

while on the other hand,
I would read letters with important headings
and big government stamps to my parents.

I made speeches;
I learned to do jump-rope rhymes like
“99 nuns in an Indiana Nunnery,” or
“I wish to wash my Irish wristwatch.”
Things my parents could never say!

And in class, I studied Chinese,
found out how to say the things
I already knew how to say in English
but forgot to label in Vietnamese.

There are some Chinese words that
sound exactly like their English definition:

And there are some Vietnamese words
that sound ugly and jagged when they
dangle from my mouth:

They hang awkward and loose
from my teeth; I speak elbows
and frayed vocal cord.

As hard as I tried
to adopt back my native voice,
it never came out as smooth as
the silky, commercial talk
that I heard on television every day.

My mother is Chinese.
My father is Vietnamese.
I am American.

She speaks Chinese.
He dreams Vietnamese.
I speak repaired tongue.
I dream renovated dialect.

I’m sorry but can you say it a bit slower?
em không biết nói tiếng Việt
I’m sorry but can you repeat yourself?

It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you,
it’s just because I can’t.
It’s because I don’t know how.

I’m still trying to tell you.
I’m still holding on so tightly to the stitched words
and patched up language of my childhood.

Even in my perfect English,
There are some things I just can’t say.

Xong phim is a Vietnamese word does not exist in English.
It means
I am done.
It means
I am through with you.
I am at the end of my rope.

By Alex Dang


Alex Dang is a member of the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Portland Poetry Slam Team competing at the National Poetry Slam and the youngest representative from Portland in the slam’s history. Alex is the Eugene Grand Slam Champion of 2014 and 2015. Videos of his performances have amassed over 1.5 million views on YouTube. He has been a speaker at two TEDx events: TEDxReno and TEDxUOregon. A nationally touring poet, Alex has performed in over 35 cities, 20 states, and is a world renowned burger expert.

Boy Learns to Sew By Mica K

Boy Learns to Sew

You gotta learn to love
what can kill you in order to survive.
This is why I’m enamored with God,
the ocean, and the palms of my hands.

Everywhere I go, a piece of my heart
is asking for something. Muddy street corners
turn me into a beggar. Sunsets turn me into a poet,
which is another form of beggar.

I open my mouth and church bells fall out,
crack open when they hit the pavement.
Doves and orphans climb out of the shards
with my songs in their throats.

In the window of my kitchen
there is sunlight. Look through the window
of my skin and you’ll find an ache leftover
from wisdom teeth, piles of salt, piles of unthreaded
needles, all the dreams I’ve buried like ashes
in the backyard beneath the maple tree.

I keep pricking my fingers on accident.
My mother says, “It’s all a learning process,”
the blood on my shirt, the oversized stitches,
the wounds in my chest that never seem to close
no matter how many times I mend them.

By Mica K


Mica K is a twenty year old Virginia kid who gets sentimental about constellations, sunrises, hot tea, and good poetry. They were more than likely born with a book in their hand and a poem in their mouth. They currently study English and Creative Writing at university.

Here Is The Aspen Tree By Martina Dominique Dansereau

Here Is The Aspen Tree

He says fuck you, queer
and the words roll down my spine like a tractor
plowing away at my dirt-and-stone
pride, catching the roots of the budding flowers sown
into my heart and tearing them out of the earth. You and I
had gardened for a long time before those flowers had sprouted.
I remember sitting with you in the
early hours of morning and
trying to plot the land, eyeing the pothole-weed-rock terrain
and sketching how to make
something beautiful out of these disasters we called our
identities, reaping parts of ourselves
until they crumbled into sand. We have a lot of work to do,
you said, and so we marched through cities
and took back the night, painting ‘queer’ across wind-roughened
cheeks and stamping it on lips tasting of stale smoke and chapstick.
Behind the wall of reclaimed slurs, we planted seeds that we hoped
would grow into a forest.
Here is the aspen tree, here is
the birch, here is something
unrecognizable that we made out of the shadows. There
are the tulips we whispered out of the ground, softly. There, our
orchards that we had worked to cultivate from
these pieces of ourselves that we have only just begun to understand,
carving ourselves homes out of unfamiliarity.
You and I are walking in the city when he
comes up from behind, says fuck you, queer
and spits at our feet. You take my hand and try
to squeeze me strength
but here is the aspen tree
and here it is falling, and
there petals are shedding as the flowers-turned-glass shards pierce
through skin, splitting open, bleeding inwards.
We tried to grow forests,
but men cut them down.

By Martina Dominique Dansereau


Martina Dominique Dansereau is a (gender) queer writer and anarcha-feminist from the lower mainland of Vancouver, Canada, who spends the majority of xyr time blogging, crying over spoken word, and attempting to leave xyr house to attend anarchist/activist events. For xem, writing is a vital part of healing from trauma and mental illness as well as a platform to share xyr voice as a marginalized identity. For over a year now xe has taken up performing spoken word at the Vancouver Poetry Slam and other venues, including organizing a monthly spoken word event at a local café for LGBTQ+ people. Xyr poetry is forthcoming in Doll Hospital Journal. Xyr passions include anti-oppression and social justice, queering platonic relationships, radicalizing self-care, cuddling pythons, going on midnight walks in the rain, and dreaming about one day being a renowned writer-activist with a house full of snakes. You can find more of xyr work online at

Eurydice Speech By Emma Bosacki

Eurydice Speech

you suck the poison out
or at least
that’s what i heard; snake bite
sucker punch, the works. i’m
trying to delineate what i know –

bad orchestras, ugly hymns,
his voice warbling above it
all, splitting the notes in two

it’s hard, my broken toes
skimming the river, my smile
like a dog bone or peach pit,
the kind of thing that
gets buried

it’s not so terrible, this following,
his fish tackle heart trembling
while he searches for me & then
tries not to look

but that’s a girl i’m not
haunted shack hybrid,
his back as straight as
an unlucky arrow
& just as true

By Emma Bosacki


Emma Bosacki is a poet and storyteller living in Toronto, Ontario. A soon to be student at Queen’s University, she is studying a degree in both English and Classics. Her inspiration comes from other Canadian writers such as Anne Carson, Michael Ondaatje, and Timothy Findley. She lives with her girlfriend and two cats.

Eurydice Walking By Mica K

Eurydice Walking

My heart is full of candle wax
and the deep-belly hunger
of the Dead.

Everything here moves slow:
the flickering shadows,
your tender footsteps,
the poison in my veins.

Do you remember our wedding?
Us both in white, pink orchids
woven in our hair? Hymns
echoing off the clouds?
The softness of our kiss?

Do you remember the tall dry grass
swaying? The jealous satyr
who descended like a fat, heavy fly,
red wine in his beard, dark dirt
beneath his fingernails?

How I fell back slowly,
mouth open, into a black tangle
of wild, seething vipers?

When I woke up in His Arms,
Hades told me that above us
you were weeping.

Love, I hear you weeping now.
Love, your body might be quavering
but it is still so beautiful.

It will be alright. I know
you are brave. Sing
something sweet,
sing something of home.

(I can see your fingers tremble
as they touch the lyre-strings.)

By Mica K


Mica K is a twenty year old Virginia kid who gets sentimental about constellations, sunrises, hot tea, and good poetry. They were more than likely born with a book in their hand and a poem in their mouth. They currently study English and Creative Writing at university.

Earthquakes and Hummingbirds By Darcy Vines

Earthquakes and Hummingbirds

Ever since I can remember,
I’ve been terrified of earthquakes.
Growing up just west of Detroit,
I had never felt one before,
but the cracks in the pavement
were all I could depend on.
How dare they think about tremoring
Hummingbirds’ wings beat 70 times per second
but my hummingbird heart beat
so much faster the day
you thought my name
for the very first time.
I swore the earth was rumbling
and splitting and swallowing up
my runaway feet, all my history
following them close behind.
The first time my father kissed my mother,
she said what the hell did you do that for?
and didn’t kiss him again ‘til he apologized.
The first time she told me that story,
I cried.
I have no idea what you’ll say the first time
I kiss you, but I want it like that.
If you’ll hate me, if you’ll hit me,
if you’ll blush ruby-throated red,
I want to find out.
And if the earth does open up,
and all of my feathers burst out of my chest,
I really wouldn’t mind.

By Darcy Vines


Darcy Vines is a 20 year old free verse poet and freelance journalist who has been writing since the early days of her teenage angst. While occasionally covering feminist film festivals and office furniture conventions, she prefers to write about falling in and out of love too easily, gender and sexuality, and her dog named Huckleberry Finn. She cites Kurt Vonnegut, Betty Smith, Richard Siken, and Andrea Gibson as the loves of her literary life and her biggest inspirations. In her free time, she is a senior in the Insignis Honors Program at Aquinas College and studies English, journalism, and writing, all while staring down the barrel of law school applications. She is a staff writer for her college’s newspaper The Saint, and has been published in the first volume of Literary Sexts as well as the 26th and 27th editions of The Sampler. In 2014 and 2015, she was a top ten finalist from Aquinas College in the Academy of American Poets Student Poetry Prize. Someday, she hopes to write something that makes sense. Until then, you can find her anywhere you can also find a good dirty chai.

Gender Fears By Mica K

Gender Fears

You want a body
with which you can identify,
a soul you can expose.

You want someone to peel back
your fuchsin cherry-flesh
and hold the damp pit of you
between their teeth.

An act of war, an act of love:
it is all throwing yourself away
for recklessness, all waking up
to smoke and flames,
all existing like a live wire
about to shock the next person
with a good grip.

See, there’s the real conflict-
you want love but the moment
it raises its bloodstained
muzzle you become a deer
that flees again, that skitters
through the laurels with a lost
girl’s song in your chest.

You dream about shapeshifters
who shiver from one skin to the next,
becoming oceans, becoming
church windows, kaleidoscopes,
things that sparkle in the light
of a hundred different Sundays.

You dream about holiness,
and a lover who will kiss the chasm
between your ribs without
feeling afraid of the weight
that emptiness leaves.

By Mica K


Mica K is a twenty year old Virginia kid who gets sentimental about constellations, sunrises, hot tea, and good poetry. They were more than likely born with a book in their hand and a poem in their mouth. They currently study English and Creative Writing at university.

It By Martina Dominique Dansereau


“Are you a boy or a girl?”
When I tell my mother to call my friend ‘they’,
she says, “Why not it?” and I am wondering, if she refuses
to use gender-neutral terms for my friend because it is
“too hard and takes so much conscious effort”,
if she considers them                 to be an it,
then what would she consider
“You have to accept me the way I am, too,” she insists
and I want to tear myself         out of my body
to sever the ties
between our DNA because                 I know
that she wouldn’t accept me as anything other than her daughter,
wouldn’t believe that I could be something else
and still be her child.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”
“Transgender, don’t you mean trans-confused?”
my father jokes at dinner when I’m trying to explain gender
to him, passion kindling my eyes with a fire that he smothers
with words that fill my ears with ash—
“Genderfluid? What is that, a slut?”—and he tells me
that maybe I should find new friends
who will talk about ‘normal things’, before he dares
to meet my eyes and ask,
“What about you, what           are you? Are you
a real girl?” and I laugh it off, caging my storm of fear inside
as if he isn’t a predator that can scent it
crackling in the air between us.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”
When I tell a counselor that I’m agender, she says,
“I don’t understand how that’s possible. You have to fall
somewhere on the spectrum, right? You can’t really
be genderless,”
and I feel like folding myself into smaller and smaller pieces
until even the crawl spaces between my vertebrae are
to non-existence
like that fundamental part of my identity, crushed down to bone
and carved away to water that slips through fingers
and evaporates without anyone seeing; I want to make origami
out of the remains of my flesh because a paper crane
would be more seen          and more beautiful than me.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”
As soon as my teacher mentions a game, a streak of dread
like lightning                 splits                   me in two,
a current that electrifies my nerve-endings with panic
as he says,        “Boys versus girls!”
and I root to my chair as if embedding myself in its stability
could keep me from falling apart. My friend tells me
to pretend to be a girl
and imagine that I am keeping the balance, but all I can think about
is how my axis is spinning out of control because
I don’t belong here, I don’t even
exist to them; the teacher calls me to the front as a girl and
nobody walks up the aisle between seats because I
am Nobody, I am not a person anymore.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”
I say, “Neither, and sometimes both;
occasionally, I am a combination of a little more one
than the other,” and most days their faces are blank,
my voice catching in the filters in their minds that don’t process person
and only hear freak, and I remember
that sticks and stones may break my bones,
but          words are killing me softly,
words leave deeper scars,
words bleed me from the inside out and silence me,
words are grinding me into something
thinner than the air so that one day when they
finally ask, “What are your pronouns?”
I answer, “It”               as if by reclaiming my skin stamped
with their brand, I can somehow make it
almost human again.

By Martina Dominique Dansereau


Martina Dominique Dansereau is a disabled, non-binary lesbian writer and artist whose work centres on trauma and marginalisation, particularly through personal experiences with violence, disability, mental illness, gender, and LGBT issues. When not entrenched in academia or creating art, xe enjoys reading books with xyr snakes, who often fall asleep between the pages. You can find xem on Twitter and Instagram @herpetologics.

Apollo 11 By A. Davida Jane

Apollo 11

A rocket fired and a
breath taken, in unison.
Two pointed gazes tilted
up towards the night.

The stickiness of the
atmosphere traps in
all the words I never
wrote down, and the poet
in me flinches as I soar
into outer space.

Above, the moon watches with
a calm serenity the oceans
would deny and the stars
scatter out of the ship’s way,
eager to avoid a collision.

The poet starts counting
her breaths with her heartbeats,
one timer in each hand as she
writes with the ink
on her tongue across the
surface of the rock.

With no gravity to weigh
them down her words float
into the sky, splaying across
the black like constellations
and interfering with the
satellites, till they transmit
only poetry

By A. Davida Jane


A. Davida Jane is a writer and student from Wellington, New Zealand who studies English Literature and Classics. She spends most of her time around words, from poetry, novels and essays to working in a bookstore, and can’t imagine ever not writing. Find more of her writing at

Natural Satellite By Emma Bosacki

Natural Satellite

during the moon landing we don’t
we fiddle out thumbs stick our
tongues out at
our sisters ask the air “when is this
over i’m tired i want to sleep”

during the moon landing we rip holes
thru our dirty sneakers
giving ourselves ample time to find
new words for the excuses
we tell when asked about
ruination, the chastisement from our
who can’t understand why we tear
thru everything we touch

during the moon landing the older
generation holds its breath, touch
a lecture from the tiny speakers of the
old tv telling a story about the 1960s,
a history
of 1sts long before our parents were
even alive

during the moon landing we get up
brush our teeth and thru the window
see the first light from a long
hot blast

“a star” our baby sister says but
she is wrong & the ocean finally

By Emma Bosacki


Emma Bosacki is a poet and storyteller living in Toronto, Ontario. A soon to be student at Queen’s University, she is studying a degree in both English and Classics. Her inspiration comes from other Canadian writers such as Anne Carson, Michael Ondaatje, and Timothy Findley. She lives with her girlfriend and two cats.