To Proud Boys By Kanchan Naik

To Proud Boys

Your flag is the color of sun-stained backs
drenched in the blood of their brothers,
drowned by the stifling stench of cotton residue,
drizzled in gashes ruptured by men
who looked so much like you.
Your stars were once stitched
from bruised fingers in bare attics,
every thread tamed into fabric
you hoist into a screaming sky.

Perhaps you won’t hear me
over the whistle of pepper spray,
but damn.
I would walk across
this injured American earth
that belongs to its wounds,
And whisper in your ears:
the brown man cries not of the burden on his back,
but because the white man thinks so deeply
of his own.

But alas,
this earth between us,
ablaze in nervous laughter,
laughter at the sightless pride
of a boy.

By Kanchan Naik

This poem is the recipient of a Scholastic Gold National Key.

Biography:

Kanchan Naik is a junior at The Quarry Lane School in Dublin and the Teen Poet Laureate for the City of Pleasanton. When she’s not doodling or writing poetry, she is most likely untangling her earphones or looking for something that happens to be — much like herself — lost.

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

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.

Poem I Should Have Ended At Once Again By Deonte Osayande

Poem I Should Have Ended At Once Again

My uncle seeds himself, growing
into a forest of my despair. My father

consults nobody as elder sibling
or parent. Presently awaiting

the darkness, somewhere
in the basement of a cocaine

covered house lies a book,
inside this book lies my uncle,

within my uncle, he teaches, lectures
about business, about science

somewhere, in a different snow clad house
he lies there, for three days wondering

does anyone care for him, think of him
and he always remembered the time

I cried for him when he left me
as a baby, and here I am again,

silently watering plants with my eyes
over his loss once again. In space

time passes differently than it does here,
takes twelve years on Earth to equal one

on Jupiter. Fascinating, how all those
moments can pass and all my fears

might be realized. Fighting my own
genetics, but giving in to generational

condemnations, me and my kids, and
their children and their grandkids

might share. Universe cares not about fate
just gives us something else to fight while we’re

here, and I think about that now, how he must
have known that we’re all living in the same present.

By Deonte Osayande

Biography:

Deonte Osayande is a writer from Detroit, Mi. His nonfiction and poetry have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, and the Pushcart Prize. He has represented Detroit at four National Poetry Slam competitions. He’s currently a professor of English at Wayne County Community College. His books include Class (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2017), Circus (Brick Mantle Books, 2018) and Civilian (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2019). He also managed the Rustbelt Midwest Regional Poetry Slam and Festival for 2014 and 2018.

 

Soup in Chinatown By Spencer Chang

Soup in Chinatown

what feels like hollow bones, I have yet to find
a cure for. but here, here’s a soup that smells too close
to home. here’s a soup with the warmth of blood,
asking how are you? how are you? this spoon is too
small to drown in, and I’m dreaming of sinking
my head beneath the whole pot. I gulped down
the entire bowl craving more. please, more herbs
this time more dirt to grind my teeth against, to bring
me back to our old garden, to claw my way out
of the dirt, sprouting new skin glazed in sunlight.
split me by the chest and you’ll find an entire house
woven from purple orchids by summer breeze twirling.
but it’s winter here in New York          and all the bruised
petals are scattered across this consuming snow. this is
all I have: a letter from home and a shadow forever
chasing across the globe. neon signs        across the street
flickering welcome welcome like a thousand fireflies
with mouths for eyes. Ma, I know I can’t leave, but with
each sip I’m drinking up the ocean          between us,
a little closer to you,           a little closer to home.

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.

Proud to be an American By Sarah Fathima Mohammed

Proud to be an American

Your sweet tones ring in my ears but
I can’t hear your voice
I want to feel your hands, strong and brown
across the sinews of my spine,
comforting,

But all I feel is sturdy, languid rhythm,
your palms kneading chapati dough

You tell me to be obedient,
like yourself, like the other women in the house,
Make the meals for the family.
Don’t fight back.
Listen.
Cover yourself in a burka.
Cook, clean, take care of the children.
Stay home.
You pass down the psalms of your generation with grace,
your soft words so easy for me to soak up like melted honey.

I want to nod I want
to see your eyes worn with age
crinkle up at the edges, happy because I would
be the good Muslim girl I know you want
but I live in America: the land of the free.

America: #MeToo
“Join the women’s march today: we fight for equality”

I want to listen to you, but I want to be free,
not stuck in the dusty cage of definition.

So I choose to live as a sole bird
and I will explore the heavy scent of the sky
embrace the colors of the earth
and fly
free.

While exploring the endless sky your words morph into caresses
those soft touches reminders of my heritage
but not my beliefs

By Sarah Fathima Mohammed

Biography:

Sarah Fathima Mohammed is a high schooler from California. In 2019, she received a silver medal for the NJCL national creative writing contest and a gold medal for national Latin. Her work has been accepted in Canvas Literary Journal. She has been accepted and will attend Iowa Young Writers’ Studio in 2020. She enjoys writing various pieces in literature and Latin; creative writing, to her, is a raw form of self-expression that can be conveyed at any depth without the worldly barriers. When she is not writing, she teaches English to disadvantaged students, plays music to raise funds for kids in hospitals and enjoys archery.