dear eomma By hyun-joo kim

dear eomma

a. denial
there are walnut trees toppling sidewalks, pointing ways past
the bell-ringing church & the drain pipes & the scores of rats.
i pass them every day & every day since that september
i am haunted by you.

b. depression
when i was walking earlier today i imagined my
half-sister as an incandescently pale, oval sort of moon,
but knew, deep down, how i am yellow, mother, &
damaged, just like you.

sister said that we are searching, always, & only for you,
but i’ve loved only one type of man & every woman because
i am reaching out to find
myself, not you.

c. anger
on second thought, don’t
say a word, eomma. your words, like so
many pearls, aren’t nearly enough.

d. bargaining
tomorrow i’ll step through the walnut-rot—inky spots
marking where they fell & then dropped. but
what if i never find the right words to write you, eomma?

i am careening, somewhere between sidestepping & flight,
thinking, surely, “someday, but not today,
i’ll put you to rest.

e. anger
they called me a gook all my life because of you.
i didn’t think about what that meant at the time, but
now i think about it every single day.
was i cultured, eomma, or purposefully made? & how
could you have made me any differently?

f. acceptance
homeland, to me, is walking carefully under these
deep, stained walnut trees, edging
closely, tensely, safely,
near, far, further into this double-edged life, wondering

g. reconstruction
as i walk, i am waiting for the walnuts to drop &
knock me one way or the other, as i am
balancing between worlds,
but they don’t. & the longer i walk the more i realize
they never will
three years have passed like slanted sidewalks & i
thought i’d know where to begin, how to
write you by now but i still can’t say
your name
in my head, eomma, because it
keeps coming up as mine

By hyun-joo kim

hyun-joo (“virutous pearl”) kim was born to an unmarried korean mother and american father during the height of the korean international adoption trade in the early 1990s. she grew up in NJ with white brothers and sisters, eventually finding her biological half-sister, nicole, and biological father in 2017 and 2019, respectively. she holds a bachelor’s degree in literature and a master’s degree in history but is currently working on a ph.d. in african history. she has published poems in journals such as forbes&fifth magazine, 70 faces magazine, and collision literary magazine. email her ( or follow her on instagram (@thekatieladybird).

Sheltering California By Emily L. Pate

Sheltering California

One way or another, I am always leaving California,
even driving south down the I-5, even coming back
over the border from Mexico or Nevada or Oregon.
At border control, I say no apples, no fruit and California
ushers me in, my childhood state an envelope of blue sky
folding over. I spend the spring of the pandemic
with my parents in the house that raised me,
just outside San Francisco. Every evening,
I take the dog through the open spaces
tucked behind suburbia, riding my bike on deer trails,
grass hip-high. I’ve ridden these trails so often
the dirt remembers the shape of my tires like I remember
the way my brother walks, so that two years ago,
when illness leaned his face unrecognizable, I still knew him
across a crowded airport, just by the way he moved.
These California hills love flowers: the delicate orange cup of a poppy,
the thin reaching of yellow mustard flower, little purple blossoms
close to the ground. The dog runs beside me, breath fast
as my feet on the peddles, grass folding him in as he startles
a turkey into the neighbor’s plum tree. There is no purer blue
than what arcs over California, pouring between
the branches of oak trees, catching threads
on the barbed wire fences. Fishline-thin telephone wires
bend between hills round as sleeping hips and heads and shoulders,
ready to roll over into the California earthquake
we’re long overdue on. Cows cluster in oak-tree shadows,
stick-legged babies in the center. A breeze carries
the hay-heavy smell of horses. Once, my cousin lay in the backyard sun
so long a vulture started silent circling the blue above her,
singing hunger through the heat. So much in this life is singing,
air whistling past my ears as I pedal an incline,
hawks screaming overhead and cutting the horizon clean.
Wings are always circling in California, something always
cutting this sky. Grass bows under wind, bends
to the spring sky, and I sway with it, some part of me
always coming home to California.

By Emily L. Pate


Emily L. Pate is a writer, avid traveler, and collector/over-sharer of bizarre facts. Born and raised in California, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Her poetry and travel writing have appeared in Funicular Magazine, Willawaw Journal, and The Northwest Passage, and Blending Magazine. She can be found at

Hollow City By Yixuan Wu

Hollow City

The sound of the braided waterway gutted
the silence as if someone was fiddling
with a güiro, a sound that rasped against
the night sky.
The northern snow-capped Yulong Mountain tells
the story of the lonely traveler lost on its peak, perhaps that’s
where I should call home; only there
will I understand the scarcity of warmth.
The altitude might stiffen the air, but
I know that it can’t be more
than how it feels when
Shuhe Town holds me, as if I’m the only
drop of diamond filtered out of a city-sized ore,
letting all other people drain out
of the town’s hunger. Why me alone?
A gale gave an answer by
casting a rain of cherry blossoms
each of which striving to flutter, but only
to be scattered on the ground like chunks of
human skin. All dyed with red, some lighter,
some soaked. Sometimes it’s not a matter of trying.
I walk through the moss carpeted pathway
only to find myself at the dead ends of Hutong
Alleyways, with weeds sticking out
from narrow rock openings and jagged
tiles lacing on top of one another.
I always ended up alone,
although at first there is always
a couple at the end of each alleyway
and I somehow arrive just on time to watch
the pair of Yuanyang
morph into silhouettes.

By Yixuan Wu

Yixuan Wu is a Chinese who currently lives in the Philippines. He is a junior attending school in Taguig City and will graduate in the year 2022. When he is not studying mathematics, he is either exploring different genres of music or chatting with his peers.

Sad Girls Like Busts in Art Museums By Dana Blatte

Sad Girls Like Busts in Art Museums

My chemistry teacher demonstrates stoichiometry, how
one number becomes one particle
becomes infinity.
I might not have an aptitude for science,
I am versed in the art of metamorphosis, of
coveting the comfort of another’s skin
and sculpting away the geometry of my silhouette until I achieve perfection
until I belong in a museum
with mannequins and cocktail dresses.

So I solve my chemistry homework in a mirror
and decide I like the sound of transmutation, the ability
to repudiate my identity and step into another,
a sketch becomes a painting becomes
contemporary art.

I am still delineating word problems in my reflection,
and my chemistry teacher might not like my answers
but these are the units of my life:
fleeting smiles and assignments, engilded in foil like gelt,
and words that prime my lips with oil paint.

stoichiometry is the article of change
and what better paragon of change
than a girl rendered
in clumsy brushstrokes of chemicals and calories.

By Dana Blatte


Dana Blatte is a sophomore in high school from Massachusetts. Previously, she has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and NaNoWriMo’s Young Writer’s Program. Additionally, her work is published in or forthcoming from The Aurora Review, The Heritage Review, and Second Revolution. An aspiring illustrator, author, and polyglot, Dana dreams in lyricism, fairy tales, and obscure indie music.

(a prayer for) the thriving season By Trishita Das

(a prayer for) the thriving season

admittedly, i have always found it difficult to pursue joy –
it is suspicious, being too light to hold onto, and too fleeting;
all it does is birth a hunger for more. i don’t want to crave,
i want perfection – untouched and holy. empty stomachs
have no use for joy, so i reject it for the dark and immaculate.
from the gaps between my ribs, it is easier to see my body
as being haunted by dust and memories, discarded
by the world. thus divorced from joy, i pretend to be hollow –
my body rooted like a deciduous tree, always shedding,
holding fast onto the ground to avoid being flung into the sea.
it has been this way forever. we are born whole, i think;
the disintegration comes later. i don’t think i fell apart
so much as crystallised into a compendium. what am i? a chaos
of transformations. how many women live in me:
starved, forgotten, buried? how much joy? i have carried fear
and regret on my shoulder-blades forever, let them curve
the line of my back, slow my steps. i have grown tired.
now i just grow. it hurts at first. i will remember my roots
and unclench them from barren earth, quench their forgotten thirst.
how long have i been holding onto dust? i am not atlas,
i am defined not by what i carry but what i choose to put down.
now i will come for joy with needy, sticky fingers, be ballooned by it,
grow large with it. i want to make the world joy-coloured, and light.
i am an amateur, not yet good at anything, so i will do things for love.
i will brush off deadness. i will come back into the world.
i will try to want to live. i am
almost there.

By Trishita Das


Trishita Das (she/her) is a teacher and writer from Mumbai, India. Her poems have been published in anthologies and magazines including Sundays Mornings by the River, The Remnant Archive, Plum Tree Tavern, Ayaskala, and Narrow Road. She also enjoys fluffy dogs, culinary experiments and bathroom singing.

They Tell Me By Nina Escueta

They Tell Me

Mangoes, ripe and green, to start off the day
Balmy breezes singing, whispering ‘stay,’
Orange skies painting, fruit-filled trees bending
With lychees to pick for night’s sweet ending

Sat by the window, thinking of home
Of jeepneys and carabao and green sea foam
Of friends and family, so close but so far
One call, one day, and one ocean apart

Thousands of miles and I feel each one’s weight
With each slur hurled, with each message of hate
Confusion, longing, and defiance stew
Go back to your country!
I miss my home,
But I belong here, too

By Nina Escueta

Nina Escueta was born in the Philippines and came to America at 6 years old with her family. She has been building bridges between these two worlds since. Nina’s now a medical student at UC San Francisco where art, hikes, and her loved ones are keeping her sane throughout this pandemic.

Double Shift By Sean Lause

Double Shift

Even when he worked a double shift
at the plant, my father gave me night rides,
his shoulders strong, weighted with time.
He carried me up to another world
of breezes and branches. Weightless,
I became all reaching hand and air.
The sky crayoned purple, the moon
a pleasant zero, content and
whole in silver.
A space between the trees opened
with a gentle stirring, revealing
stars and planets, patient, waiting.
So briefly, the interlocking gears
of the sky—paused—their labors,
time’s punch clock frozen for now.
My legs clenched round his neck,
leaves lowering like medals
I would pin on him if I could.

By Sean Lause


Sean Lause is a professor of English at Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio. His poems have appeared in The Minnesota Review, Another Chicago Magazine, The Beloit Poetry Journal and Illuminations.

Escape Plan By Yixuan Wu

Escape Plan

Someone from the realm
of the dead is sending
you an invitation, opening the door
and calling for you, like

a scream in the Gobi. It
smells of withering
gingko leaves, a smell that carries
dopamine, leaving you craving

for more. There is only
one way, you thought,
while stumbling through empty
Maotai bottles and rattling

them against the walls.
A sound made in a grave
but of silk, like the braided stretch
of carpet you’re walking on

robbed from the Eastern
Qing Catacombs by your
grandfather. You open that drawer
and look for the way out.

The way to slip into
an eternal dream
where the sea hangs above
the horizon and the sky

sits below it. And now, you
have two options: take it
fast through the blood or take
it slow through the nose.

You decide to do both.
You want the salty pinch
in the face and that hazy
waltz in the fog at the same

time. Here, you became
Antarctica yearning
for the Northern Star,
or perhaps a raven that forgot

where it built its nest, or you
might just be a piece of black
mint unhinged from the branch,
slipping into the soil.

By Yixuan Wu


Yixuan Wu is a Chinese who currently lives in the Philippines. He is a junior attending school in Taguig City and will graduate in the year 2022. When he is not studying mathematics, he is either exploring different genres of music or chatting with his peers.

The Cleaving By Samuel A. Adeyemi

The Cleaving

Say, depression is a guillotine kneeling
towards my chest. Say, it is a blade

seeking to pray on my flesh. My body, a
sacrament. My bones, clean alters of grief.

Tell me this calvary will pass over me with
the night, that the morning will be a new

attempt to gather myself. I’m left in shambles
like the language cleft on my terrible teeth,

graceless as a name fumbling on an infant’s
tongue. I have longed to be elegant, deliberate

as a garland, for joy to place a kiss on the soft
of my palm. I am not convinced whoever made

this body desired me relief—I approach my joy &
it turns into a knife. Who will come take this boy

& make chaplets from his hair? Who will press
me into a garden, let lilies fill my mouth? Lord,

unthread me in the wind, till I am the limbs of
a whisper. I want to hold up a mirror & not see

a face—just an inspection of glass, shimmery
like a pocket-sized lake. I want to be some lake;

boneless, cooling my own thirst,
washing anew, tide wrestling tide.

By Samuel A. Adeyemi


Samuel A. Adeyemi is a young writer from Nigeria. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Palette Poetry, Frontier Poetry, 580 Split, Leavings Lit Mag, The Shore, African Writer, The African Writers Review, Jalada, and elsewhere. When he is not writing, he enjoys watching anime and listening to a variety of music. You may reach him on Twitter and Instagram @samuelpoetry

CHAIN SMOKERS By Charles Duffie


I know now it wasn’t the cigarettes.
The burning was behind your eyes;
you saw the world through smoke.

You came home like a man going to war,
set up camp on the living room couch.
You occupied our childhood.

Hands, words, and glances struck,
scraped like matches across our hearts
until we felt the burning too.

This legacy of fire didn’t start with you.
Your father left you a smoker’s birthright;
we come from generations of arsonists.

Now you’re gone and I have a family of my own.
This should be easy, breaking chains of smoke.
But how do you build a firebreak against history?

By Charles Duffie


Charles Duffie is a writer working in the Los Angeles area. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review of Books, So It Goes (The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library), Anastamos, Bacopa Literary Review, Prime Number Magazine, Exposition Review, Mojave River Press, Meat for Tea, Heavy Feather Review, FlashBack Fiction, Riggwelter, and American Fiction by New Rivers Press.