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.

Sleep Song By Serrina Zou

Sleep Song

We sleep to become clean
Where demons
Meet their oblivion,
Our eyelids
Fluttering in heartbeats —
Episodes from hell
We never dream.
We spend hours curled
In cocoons
Cradling the moon in our fingers
As if to capture
Starlight
In lunar gardens
Strung with fairy lanterns
My mother tells me we are cursed
From the past eight lives,
Whispers prayers
From textured nonsense
Etched between the creviced grooves
Of our altar’s incense
In jasmine we trust our gods
To save the fragments
Of our flesh
We lost to the diaspora
They wrap our wishes in feathery tissues
And sink them in obsidian urns
Like poetry for someday
When the sky falls
Blanketing
Across our shamelessness
In the new year we beg for the river to swallow
Our blood —
To say we lost
And were lost
We cannot.
We sleep instead.

By Serrina Zou

Biography:

Serrina Zou is a junior at Basis Independent Silicon Valley in San Jose, California and a 2019 California Arts Scholar in Creative Writing. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Just Poetry!!!, the Asian Pacific Fund, In Parentheses Magazine, and the Bay Area Book Festival. When she is not writing poetry, she is either catnapping or avidly devouring novels.

Null Hypothesis // Chaos Theory By Julia Zhou

Null Hypothesis // Chaos Theory

In America, it’s ok to play God
in the woods. It’s true, my father

helped me pull the trigger.
We started small, like rabbits,

while our cross hairs itched toward
bigger game. Remind me again of that

summer, before we stumbled
upon green upon green upon

rot. How we plastered our arms
to our eyes. How, with these

small hands, an explosion.
How un-Cambrian, as

we trace muzzle to tail
for fun. Count constellations

in flesh wound. Trade zodiac
signs for numbers – 32 gone

& it’s only June. Remind me
again of what comes next –

my memory is hazy. Shadow,
with no clean exit. Who is that

loading Life Magazine cartridges
for fun? Nature hands us a large

lemonade and no answers and
that’s it. Love it or leave it.

There are two ways out
– by bullet or by mouth –

and you & I both know
which to prefer. Us millennials,

we know a cold case by heart.

By Julia Zhou

Biography:

Julia Zhou is a high school senior from Herndon, Virginia. Her writing has been recognized by the Poetry Society of the UK and the National YoungArts Foundation; they can be found in Antithesis Journal, Blue Marble Review, and Typishly, among others. Find her napping with a Campbell’s textbook cradled in arm, playing quizbowl, or staring at the moon.

Aubade for mothers in America By Nicole Seah

Aubade for mothers in America

in the aftermath, a boy plays with a toy gun.
a mother houses and feeds the stray
black dogs that come running. large hands that fed
are closed around the neck of a water bottle and spill
its contents on a burning plaza. tapes are wrung
out and hung to dry.

boy unbuckles his holster like a belt tied too tight.
the walls are whiter than the air we breathe.
dark meat against china plate. a flower
soaks itself in its own blood. a mother
houses and feeds the stray black dogs that come running
from the steel plants, weaving through black metal.

a sister kisses boys with the back of her teeth, long hair
bursting through the back of her braid.
in a hotel room somewhere a daughter says a word
like fruit ripped off a tree. somewhere, a mother
relinquishes god and lights candles at her grave.

the coffee cup snaps against the ground like hands
clapping. the black dogs are running. the sky is white.
the passengers brace themselves in the planes.
a boy unbuckles his belt like it is too tight
against his skin. the crunch of knuckles.

the ice cracked a long time ago. the spoon hit against skin
made a loud thump. the rabbit bitten piece by piece by wolf,
a mouth filled with blood. somewhere, a mother cups
her hand around her son’s, gently calls his name when he
wakes up. He sees the city burning, red city. The dogs
search for food in the bones.

By Nicole Seah

Biography:

Nicole Seah is a student residing in Singapore. Her work has been featured in JUNOESQ, Glass Kite Anthology and Eunoia Review amongst others. She is a senior managing editor for a youth magazine, Parallel Ink, and participated in the Adroit summer mentorship program 2016. She won national commended young poet for the National Singapore Poetry Competition with her poem “Stage Fright.”

Climate Change By E Wen Wong

Climate Change

It seems this may be our tomorrow,
a once lively sea of colours, an array of creatures,
burnt down to blackened embers,
charred islands surrounded by parched desert,
hot, arid, uninhabitable.

This is the tomorrow we have created today,
out of selfishness and ignorance,
leaving the problem to fall
to the bottom of our agendas.
It is the flame that we ignited ourselves,
one we left to burn,
darkening the edges of our great green globe,
scorching the hairs on our stubborn legs, still fixed to the ground.

This is the flame that stands
between us and life,
a flame we refuse to extinguish,
merely watching it destroy our land, our people,
everything that has been created for us and by us.

When will we realise what we have done,
what we will cause,
what has become?

When will we stand
with those who’ve already stood,
in an effort to extinguish
this burning flame?

By E Wen Wong

Biography:

E Wen Wong is a 13 year old young poet studying at Burnside High School in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her poetry has featured in several anthologies around the world including Printable Reality (New Zealand), Rattle Poetry (US), Allegro Poetry Magazine (UK) and Meniscus Literary Journal (Australia). She has also been placed in numerous poetry competitions, most notably the Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Poetry Contest. As well as poetry, E Wen holds a newly found passion for Diplomacy and International Relations, perceiving poetry and diplomacy as having the ability to introduce new perspectives and work together in ways which are mutually beneficial to their respective fields.

E Wen is responding to an issue that is growing by the day, an issue which we all seem to be ignoring and rendering small. It is the issue of climate change, which is affecting all of us.

Trigger Loving Blob By Juliet Cook

Trigger Loving Blob

The Blob scared me when I was a little girl.

I would scream inside my own head
and then mentally hurl The Blob until it broke
through a window and entered the house across the street.

Was it my fault if it grabbed someone there?
Was it my fault for not screaming out loud
to let them know The Blob was coming?

I waited for it to slink its gelatinous slime covered,
menstrual blood colored globular shape
back towards me. I wondered who else was stuck inside

that Blob’s body, silently screaming, but trying
to work their way out with scissors, crayon,
colored pencils and their own words before they melted

into another pointless misshapen warning sign
that resembled a life sized doll injection
mold shrinking smaller and smaller and

The Blob will outweigh our existence unless we agree to dissolve.

By Juliet Cook

(The title of this poem came from Kelle Grace Gaddis and the poem’s content was partly inspired by poetic conversation she and I had about trigger warnings. Thank you kindly to Kelle for her creative inspiration.)

Biography:

Juliet Cook’s poetry has appeared in a small multitude of magazines, including Arsenic Lobster, DIAGRAM, Diode, FLAPPERHOUSE, Menacing Hedge and Reality Beach. She is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks, recently including POISONOUS BEAUTYSKULL LOLLIPOP (Grey Book Press, 2013), RED DEMOLITION (Shirt Pocket Press, 2014), a collaboration with Robert Cole called MUTANT NEURON CODEX SWARM (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015), and a collaboration with j/j hastain called Dive Back Down (Dancing Girl Press, 2015), with two more forthcoming. Cook’s first full-length individual poetry book, “Horrific Confection”, was published by BlazeVOX and her second full-length individual poetry book, “Malformed Confetti” is forthcoming from Crisis Chronicles Press. Her most recent full-length poetry book, “A Red Witch, Every Which Way”, is a collaboration with j/j hastain, published by Hysterical Books in August 2016. Find out more at www.JulietCook.weebly.com.

The Battered Wife By Khalypso

The Battered Wife

She
keep house holy
graffiti temple
Unrenovated, lettin the rain in

He
preacher with unclasped hands
always takin communion but
givin no tithes
he gon worship his way to hell

She’ll stay standing though
even after his death

it gon be a righteous rapture

praise The Lord
praise The Bullet
praise The Fed-up
praise Her

that was a glorious exorcism there

By Khalypso

Biography:

Khalypso is a 17 year old poet and actress born in Berkeley, CA and currently residing in Elk Grove, attending Franklin High School. Ms Osborne has been writing poetry since she was in the second grade and is currently beginning her first year of submitting her works to different literary journals, reviews, and anthologies.

Her work centers primarily around charting the existence of being a black woman living in America, although topics such as mental health, queerness, and coming-of-age have been known to Charleston themselves from her fingertips, transitioning into a frenzy of Historical references, extended metaphors, homages to soul food, and jazz connoisseurship, duels between religion and logic, onto her notebook pages, ending in a pirouette of humanity.

Aftermath By Karuna Chandrashekar

Aftermath

Every time she leaves

I break hourglasses / I refuse the gift of regret

When she returns

with her hands empty / and eye bruised / like a child’s knees

I whisper / forget your emptiness

you are the night’s husk /

I have uttered her name / like falling lilies /from a clenched fist / at a gravesite

her name / is the last wishbone / to fill the china of my palm / its madness

echo / I have read like psalms.

She pretends she has not heard

the jacarandas chatter / how I have been livid with love

viscous with blood / a heavy duty wire sparking / in a vicious flood

her heart’s incoherence / is a fist full of flowers

stuffed in the raw mouth of childhood / she refuses the gift of deliverance /

and I am the bruised fruit / of this resistance.

Every morning / she blinds each eye

to love me,

every night / I sleep dreamless

a wolf cut from her howl / I have watched dreams die / ships sinking

in a sea’s wail / a neon stoplight / blinking its last /

on a deserted highway

Yet I am still wild / teeth and hair / dust and bones /

a hurricane’s eye open wide, wild /

so there.

By Karuna Chandrashekar

Biography:

Karuna Chandrashekar is a psychotherapist practising in New Delhi India. Her work has been featured in A Blackbird Sings, The Sunflower Collective and is forthcoming in Eunoia Review and Anomaly Lit.

Ornithology By Athena Dixon

Ornithology

for Sandra Bland

They say in the mugshot
you are dead. That you are lying
on the floor, your hair spread down-
ward. Your collarbone swollen.

Your eyes vacant.

That the curve of your body is arching
from the utilitarian grey. That you
are another cause for war.

We tell the world to speak your name.

But there are others who see your wings.
A black beating, building beneath the distance
in your eyes. A moment from breaking the shocking
orange swallowing your sallow skin.

And for the tiredness of death we don’t want
to believe in the stiffness of your body being moved
to position. Because the truth can never be that cruel.
And even at the far edges of life there has to be some
fairness. Because even nightmares are dreams and believing
this cruelty is nothing short of madness.
Is nothing short of normal.

So we believe in the power of flight and in the shifting
of your body to bird.

A starling iridescent.

By Athena Dixon

Biography:

Athena Dixon is Founder and Editor in Chief of Linden Avenue Literary Journal. Her poetry and creative non-fiction has appeared in Compose, Pluck!, This!, Blackberry: A Magazine, and For Harriet among others.

She writes, edits, and resides in Philadelphia.