Unbecoming By Emma Miao

Unbecoming

It is 1966 and bodies throng the viscid streets.
Mao laughs on 736 million walls, eyes plastered

On the mantelpiece. I dance for him in the dappled sunlight,
Through filtered piano lullabies and red ribbons,

Powdered porcelain faces and cracked flesh.
But powder cannot last forever.

He’s flashing yellowed teeth as fires enflame
四旧 : photo albums, books, my ballet shoes.

The Yellow River’s running red with blood.
Street’s splashing, ichorous. I’m knee-high

In secrets of Mao and Mother’s ashes.
In dampened attics, I pray to God.

Look now: our husk is sheathed in bruises,
Sopping the bitter light. We’re huddled at

Hangzhou’s sprawling fingertips.
Close enough for the beast to caress.

By Emma Miao

Biography: 

Emma Miao is a high school sophomore from Vancouver. She was recently named a commended Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2019. Her work is forthcoming in Up the Staircase Quarterly and Sine Theta Magazine and is recognized by the Poetry Institute of Canada. She also holds an ARCT in piano performance.

New Land By Spencer Chang

New Land

we keep our eyes ahead,
sand chips at our blistered
feet swollen the size of boulders.
we curl our toes, and keep trudging.
I imagine the city we left,
the city burned bare bones:
a child rubs crumbled concrete
into his wounds. his ribs poking
through skin with every breath.
a dog, what remains of its fur,
charcoaled, feasts on a broken
bone, fresh marrow spilling out.
I remember passing a man
who looked too much like Ba,
burnt hair, face ruined, tattered
camouflage, his fingers clinging
to a crumbled photo of two children,
laying like a question forever unanswered.

still, we keep our eyes ahead, never behind
Ma hands me a bottle of expired milk,
foaming at the top, canned peaches smell
of a place that no longer exists. the moon
fills our irises, floating like a distant island
we’ll never reach.

By Spencer Chang

Biography:

Spencer Chang is a writer based in Taipei. He is also a dancer and freelance web designer in his free time.

i know the origin of my tremor By Ugochukwu Damian Okpara

i know the origin of my tremor

to my neighbour who says he is not homophobic but. . .

i know why the tremor lies in my body
but if this body was on fire what would you save
i know where the swing lies in my hips
but if this body was bashed with stones
will you stop to pick a stone
what would you save
i know where to kiss love into
but if you find me behind the closet
tracing his lips what would you do
i know all these
but i don’t know how to love anymore
i don’t know which stays in the right nor the left
but i know how harmless two boys
trace the arches on their bodies
no better way to sing praises to god for his creation
than to admire one’s body with a tongue
again
if their bodies were on fire what would you save

By Ugochukwu Damian Okpara

Biography:

Ugochukwu Damian Okpara, Nigerian writer & Poet, is the 1st Runner Up in the Nigerian
Students Poetry Prize 2019. He was one of the 21 mentees in the second cohort of the SprinNG Fellowship and an alumnus of the Purple Hibiscus Trust Creative Writing Workshop held annually by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. His works have appeared/forthcoming in Africanwriter, Kreative Diadem, NSPP 2019 Anthology, Straight Forward Poetry, Barren Magazine, The Penn Review and elsewhere. He is currently interning as the Contributing Interviewer for Poetry at Africa in Dialogue.

Somewhere, a Lighthouse By Cindy Xin

Somewhere, a Lighthouse

In the summer I learn escape is
just another word for sky. A boy
tells me how women are created,
how half do not make it past the
first scavenge, the first teeth. He
licks up the storybooks—their oceans
stringing from his lung in salt-hung
hooks. A woman tells me she would
be my mother, that there is nothing
I have forgotten. There are multiple
ways of mercy; she promises them all:
teeth sharp enough to pull, shadows
the shape of sun, and the sand—how
I could stand and forget, how I, the
hollow, could be obliterated under so
stocky a season’s tongue. In the
summer, I couldn’t look at any mouths.
I made home out of consumption, felt the
stars as skin. My ribs sunk from silt to
water to wish to song. When my arms went
black along the sea, everything had let it
happen. I was my own because no one
wanted me.

By Cindy Xin

Biography:

Cindy Xin is a junior in Albany High School in California who enjoys writing poetry, listening to music, and staring at the sky. Her work is forthcoming in Earth Island Journal, Half Mystic, After The Pause, and Glass.

 

Dependence By Marisa Silva-Dunbar

Dependence

“The Devil is real. And he’s not a little red man with horns and a tail. He can be beautiful. Because he’s a fallen angel, and he used to be God’s favorite.”

You asked me to come along for the night
ride, said I was the only one who knew
how to light up the dark road ahead.

I’m a Banshee screaming down the highway,
but you’re so deep in your own blood
you don’t hear sound escape my throat
as you speed through me and the night.

The rhythm in your ears creates the only
song you wanna hear. Put my wrist through
the window, apologize for how the glass
creates red rivers from my palms
to your seat. You say this wound
was my doing—undoing either way.
Your laughter echoes when I tell you
I expected morning to be five hours
on the horizon.

By Marisa Silva-Dunbar

Biography:

Marisa Silva-Dunbar’s work has been published in 24 Neon Magazine, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Cabinet of Heed, and Marias At Sampaguitas. She is a contributing writer at Pussy Magic. Her work is forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, Sybil Journal, and The Charles River Journal. Marisa is the founder and EIC of Neon Mariposa Magazine. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @thesweetmaris

But Again By Cindy Xin

But Again

it begins with blindness: the indistinguishable swarm of
sun and dark       your enemies swaddling chrysanthemums
across the darkest plumes of your body. by your face: a
hand struck with hope, a garage of pulleys and medicine,
a mother and a father who call you by a name until the
doves whittle sky-thin. They are moondust. They are catalyst.
Wherever you wander, you will return to those faces:
in the mirror, father is waiting on the bridge by the pond
father is waiting without books in his hand      father is by
his desk again creating life         with a pipe & some smoke,
evaporating blood through his palms into your throat.
can you believe in river?            that in moments desperate
enough, your blood will suffice as wings? you learn the
names of trees to understand his kind of wisdom:
acacia thin, hemlock wild.            you visit his god, drape
his angels over your eyes, and learn the steady nature
of violence.           when the snow came in torrents, you
reached for his hand only to find an empty salve:         the ice un-
peeling to river, water-blood warming you to safety,
love in fragments too small to hold

By Cindy Xin

Biography:

Cindy Xin is a junior in Albany High School in California who enjoys writing poetry, listening to music, and staring at the sky. Her work is forthcoming in Earth Island Journal, Half Mystic, After The Pause, and Glass.

Yuppified By Zoe Canner

Yuppified

If unique is a hibiscus-infused doughnut / i don’t want to be
unique / lavender lemonade / mason jars / gingham / i don’t

want to be pea soup / i don’t want to be potato / i don’t
want to be chicken soup / i just want to be / lavender

lemonade in a mason jar on a gingham tablecloth

/ overlooking the sea / nothing is affordable / but if you
follow my rules you can outsmart the system that is stacked

against you / don’t you want to be outstanding? /  don’t you
want to separate yourself from the pack? / & be part of the

special? / the few? / the well off? / and own property?

owning property opens up a whole world / & when you own
property you can have a garden / &in that garden / a picnic

table / & then you can buy your own tablecloth / & be draped
forever in gingham / grow your own lavender / have a lemon

tree / wander around your garden in a straw hat &gingham

/ dazed / as the earth quivers / &the people of the resistance
get old / get cancer / or die by suicide / crouching /

grabbing / squeezing all the gingham for yourself / paranoid
/ nobody is going to take this special / relaxing / gingham

from me / you think / it’s mine / you say / i need it because

i have anxiety / i suffer / you say / i worked hard for this
gingham life with my cunning / my moxie / my grit / you

say / if you guys were as exceptional as me &could afford
gingham / you wouldn’t blink / you would be draping

yourselves in stiff gingham so fast you’d get a burlap burn

By Zoe Canner

Biography:

Zoe Canner’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Laurel Review, Arcturus of the Chicago Review of Books, Naugatuck River Review, SUSAN / The Journal, Maudlin House, Occulum, Pouch, Matter, Swimming with Elephants, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Chaleur Magazine, Nailed Magazine, Indolent Books’ What Rough Beast, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles where she indulges in hilly walks at dusk when the night-blooming jasmine is at its peak fragrance.

saying: deracination By Kavi Kshiraj

saying: deracination

love is a dead body, waterlogged and
sweet, the mistranslation of ancestry.
my grandfather’s hands mix pale rice
for hunger-pang wolves, and the sun’s
opened yolk is liquid light in the sky. he
does not recognize me when i blink.

substance does not pass my teeth. i
shake, hollow, hands lepidoptera pinned
to a wall. my love is a misappropriation
of grief, swallowed to say: i want to carry
this. i want to wear this in my body. when
i’m gone, will it make you real, finding
your name carved into still-slick riverstone?

By Kavi Kshiraj

Biography:

Kavi Kshiraj is a queer, Indo-American poet found in New Jersey. They spend time on hobbies such as writing, mythology, and their various identity crises. tumblr: @kavikshiraj ; twitter/instagram: @klytaimestra

In these blue-white glades By Jenny Shi

In these blue-white glades

Shanghai, encysted to the moon. Suspended
in the grass-fished air. Below, a seething dialect.
To domesticate language, I pried open the throat,
rimmed its cilia with haunted prayers.
Where dull souls chanted the same: open, open, open

Here, we opened the lights. Pried open bulb-mercury like fruit.
Shanghainese was a corn rind, the sound of static tuts
and shrieks, spit leaves, rusted breathing.
To swallow that language, I stained my teeth.

I wondered if I could escape that place. It knocked me
when I went outside it. To America, washed
like fruits in the sink. Peeled the calcified lips
off my face, split hers into lullaby.

I didn’t know her songs became lesions. Blades.
In these blue-white glades, I said something
smaller than the moon. Fit it in the palm of my hand,
and I lost it. When I opened my fingers, America
had already cradled it away like an afterthought.

By Jenny Shi

Biography:

Jenny Shi is a senior at Palo Alto High School in California. A recent graduate of Fir Acres Writing Workshop, Jenny has blossomed into the world of poetry. Prior to that, she won a Scholastic Art and Writing award for a nonfiction essay (she prefers poetry). Additionally, she is a visual artist whose knowledge of the sciences seeps into her brushes. Jenny speaks three languages: English, Mandarin, and Spanish, and her favorite food is any kind of noodle.

So we bring mooncakes to the playground By Katherine Vandermel

So we bring mooncakes to the playground

in a ruby red tin riddled / with gold pimples and black / graffiti. We perch / above chocolate wood-chips, jade / grass. Mei’s sweaty hands / dive into the tin of flour crumbs, sucked / into tiny gaping mouths / from the playground floor. A girl / sits at the end / of our slide, where the teeth of the tube / bite an orange climber. Her eyes / flicker into my lap, back / up to me. From the tin / we eat, bean and pastry / wedged under fingernails. The moon / grazes her tongue, and her face / cracks into a thousand / pieces of porcelain we couldn’t possibly hope / to pick up. We xiǎo nǚhái, we / can never fall for fear / we might shatter.

Soybean, green bean, red bean, bullet / holes. Soon, the playground slide is filled / with shrapnel and we burn / through our clothes. We wear scars / as freckles. Freckles, dark / freckles, foreign.

I think back / to the Laotian boys, the boys / at the bakery, the boys / pressing flour and rolling dough / in the corner. Waving their white / powdered hands, the prettiest skin / on their bodies. I trace a finger along / the face of my moon, feeling / for a crater, the blemish of a star. / Sticky legs kissing / our yellow slide, sunflower / cheeks bearing lotus seeds / and painted bread, a red tin balanced / across our knees. Our moons / inside.

By Katherine Vandermel

Biography:

Katherine Vandermel is a writer who strives to use language as a tool to resist the erasure of marginalized ethnic communities. She loves music and a good, warm croissant. Her work has appeared and is forthcoming in Alexandria Quarterly, Blue Marble Review, Poetry Resistance from Youth, and has been recognized by Behrend College and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.