Emma Stout

Cup your ears to listen to the blackish blue –
the in, out
the echoing crack of knuckles

Do three whole rotations beneath the surface,
under the wavering white
because you can’t seem to grasp Her cord
because the sun circles as you spin in tandem with this Earth

It’s nearly time, but you don’t know that, so you ask to the blackish blue:
If the only walls to this womb are continents, does that make me an orphan?
before Her cord detaches
before the last breathe ascends into the gyrating white

You allow yourself
one more rotation
The amniotic currents of this Earth can’t mother two
The choice is not yours to make

For sinking will not feed the sediment
and the womb you’ve convinced yourself
you belong in
you made as a home

Is not yours to heal.

And as you’ve been spinning in the unrelenting blackish blue,
She has sighed and returned to her morning paper.

And as you’ve been spinning,
She blew craters into the foam of her coffee

And, in doing so, has pushed you to the bottom
and drowned you in Her undulating oceans.


by Nuha Shaikh

Secret Heart

[English version]

o my dark-eyed bird
i give you once shiny treasures of faded gold
and tarnished, twice loved silver

this act is a language you won’t understand
and i know this, but i would give you anything
to make up for the unfamiliar words
pushing their way out of your mouth

o mimic mind
leave me behind if you must
i will watch your wings, longing

the night is short with the company of a pearl
next to your scattered stars in the sky
my name in secret for you
to always find your way back to

o your melancholy spirit
my eternal companion
settle with me in the shimmering light


[Chinese version]


我一定认识你这样, 但想给你任何东西
补救我 陌生的字




两半的我 (Two Halves of Me)

by Alex Eliasen






Two Halves of Me
(English Translation)

My brain is hot and sour soup
Daytime creates pink sweetness that lives in my mouth
I gnaw and gnaw, but cannot swallow
When I try to spit out the unchewable candy
I can’t help but freeze
What can I do?
Fall into a slumber

Close my eyes

The war in my head’s opening ceremony
Creates fire and flashing lights
The floor ignites, feet begin burning
Chilis play inside my stomach
They force my skin to boil
I think I’ll die
But my heart has already burned to death

I slowly heal
But still chew
My feet still burn
No heart, just dust

skinny hurts (sometimes)

by Anonymous

Maybe we have already passed the epoch of the body as an attribute, and maybe I’m just wasting time to lament the passing of time, but —

#1. My arms only fill up one half of the sleeves on my T-shirt. I yearn for three quarters. 

#2. I wish to use the fat on my legs to dress my shoulders.  

#3. Imagine football padding on a skeleton. Comic and unattractive. My upper body.

#4. There is such a thing as a thin person’s blessing: unlimited food intake. Or at least people seem to think so. Nothing I intake is taken by my body. I want food to grow from under the skin. 

#5. I like baggy clothing. They make balloons out of my features. 

#6. Mom said avoid black because the color “swallows” me. I wear it regardless. I wear black baggy clothing like a beast in the night, except I am smaller. 

#7. Sometimes I fill the mirror with junk. The mirror knows & smiles ruefully. The mirror is particularly good at storing my emotions.  

#8. I get scared by massive figures in the gym. They may be able to swallow me whole and make a shadow of my existence. 

#9. When I choose to be a nocturnal animal, my skin deflates like a balloon in the morning. All my T-shirts run big. 

#10. The mirror reminds me to check my shoulders before stepping into the shower. I do push-ups before leaving the room.  

#11. There is no such a thing as a thin person’s curse. Or at least I seem to think so, when I repeat the mantra in my head. 

#12. I wouldn’t stand a chance in football.  

#13. Sometimes people tell me that I should work out. They say, laughing, “you are tall enough, but not strong enough!” I laugh too, saying, “yes, I’m comic and unattractive.”

#14. Sometimes I feel like nothing I feel is felt by anyone. 

#15. Sometimes maybe only half of what I feel is worth being written about. I yearn for three quarters. 

Manifesto Destiny

by Ivy Lockhart

Who can save america?
Wiley peyote cowboy of my fevers and my sugar highs!
Sexy and brooding,
Conquering, cattle herding
to the reaches of the sunny land
Wanderlust! Wander less. Rootless!
Never finding that roadside diner and diet soda
and pretty waitress and farmers daughter
and chieftains daughter and brothel mother.
Lonesome! Oh so very lonesome!
Lone wolves on such pure and virginal land
Evolve with us! Rats of the fake philosophizing,
bourgeoisifying, mystical herd.
Don’t get left behind.

Oh cowboy! Save us from ourselves!
Save us from sin and bank tellers,
the drink and the darkness of night.
Gold rush, maidens’ cheeks flush
with you! Power rush!
Oh trusty steed! Oh reliable tale!
Bareback tissue treads thin.

I love you america!
america you cowboy! You wonderful thing!
You bucking and brazen,
you fucking and razed,
You owning and wielding.
I love you, america, I love you!
Your flask, your rifle—you playing the hero!
It’s all for you?
Every last scrap
of corn?
and hair?
and sugar?
Every last scrap!

Post-outbreak confessional, January 27th, 2020

by Blane Zhu

“Do You Have a Home? Do You Feel Warmth? Do You Know How To Care For Your Family?”

As I write this, entire cities in China are in lockdown.
People are trapped and unable to reunite with their parents.
Schools close. Markets close. Trains stop. Airplanes stored away.

Only things that are open:
The constant flow of information between face masks.
My mouth.

Mother’s words
Strike me like a gong:

“Do You Have a Home? Do You Feel Warmth? Do You Know How To Care For Your Family?”

I don’t know why.
I don’t know how she managed to send this email,
Or why she needed to feel
A connection that couldn’t
Last for longer than a
“Are you ok”
Or “I’m just fine”.
I could just show her my face,
Or I could hide
Until tomorrow,
When she stops thinking about me.

“Do You Have a Home? Do You Feel Warmth? Do You Know How To Care For Your Family?”

I read the news again.
Spreads to North America. Thailand. Britain. Australia.
Death toll confirmed.
Authorities will “try their hardest” to respond.
Death toll rises.
First death confirmed in Beijing.

My home city.

“Do You Have a Home? Do You Feel Warmth? Do You Know How To Care For Your Family?”

I don’t know
What my parents are up to,
Where my relatives have traveled.
I don’t know if they made Jiaozi.
(They usually stuff a coin in one of them for good luck.)
I can’t see what they are seeing
On their screens,
In front of their eyes.
I am just an icon, a little red dot.
Meanwhile I turn to my calendar,
Refill my deadlines & due dates,
And hope that from now
until February 15th
I won’t receive another message that says:

“Do You Have a Home? Do You Feel Warmth? Do You Know How To Care For Your Family?”

I’m afraid I cannot answer. I don’t know the answer.
But I should apologize. I know I should.
The average time of my weekly video calls
Stands at about 30 minutes.
More than enough time to say hello,
To say I feel warm because of you,
To say I care about you,
To say anything…

“Do You Have a Home? Do You Feel Warmth? Do You Know How To Care For Your Family?”

But I didn’t.
I didn’t call last weekend.
Didn’t know what I was up to
Besides being who I thought I should be.
Didn’t feel. Didn’t read the news.
I tucked myself into a cloud
Until the arrow
Breaking in from the other side
Bearing the news
Shot me down in list format:

  1. What are you up to in your college process? Why don’t you tell us? Are we not supposed to care about your future?
  2. It is SPRING FESTIVAL. Why are you not reaching out to relatives?
  3. The coronavirus outbreak here is affecting everyone, yet we have not heard a single word of concern from you to your relatives. Do they have a place in your heart?

Do You Have a Home? Do You Feel Warmth? Do You Know How To Care For Your Family?

Dear Vera

by Matthew McGovern

Dear Vera,

How long it took I do not know, but over the hills and through the woods, my letter found its way.

I’ll write to you until we’ve chopped down all the trees and left none for paper. Until each and every last wellspring – of ink, oil and inclination – has dried. Until the USPS goes bankrupt and carrier pigeons have gone extinct. Until carpal tunnel wrenches my wrists and there are no more ways for my words to get through. 

Having said that, I’ll neither email nor instant message – direct, indirect or otherwise – I’m categorically opposed. You see, despite my zeal, I’m afraid you will read me right off the bat, and leave me as such, merely ‘read’, crossed off a to-do list or, worse yet, lost in the ether. Web worldwide and images moving, I want to be more than a figment or pixel. 

Digitized words are a distraction like a fruit fly or gnat, batted away, a bright screen piquing from which you turn. Instead, please stop for a moment, hold the envelope scuffed and traveled, before opening with a penknife or peel and tear in. I hope you can acquaint yourself with my odd lettering that weaves and bobs and abbreviates, thoughts which wind across the page and escape their given partitions. 

I aim to be legible in the full sense of the word, but  what’s the harm if you have to squint and decipher, hold up the letter to your eyes? I invite you close! May there be no gulf between these words and what reaches you. 

Two stamps and a kiss, I send my words. Be in good health and high spirits, we’ll see each other again and I require no reply, foremost I want to be read true. Namely, by you. 



don’t say ocean, say unending blue

by Alice Hickson 

puddles break
into streams forging their
path down the driveway and
absence bores through me

we lie in mid morning twilight
snowflakes jump from the windowsill
to the rooftop and
I beg you

don’t say absence say abyss
it’s not a hole it’s a valley
for empty words
to echo off and

my fingers are blistered from carrying
these memories and running
across the faded fissures of a map
measuring the distance between us
what we say and what
we mean

don’t say it gets easier say
you will participate in the slow and painful process of forgetting
that maybe letting go is not dissimilar
to pulling splinters from skin

I am

by Sarrah Hakimjee

Moonlight on a stormy night/ My mother’s hushed prayers at the brink of dawn/
shoulders colored with hope/ eyes drowned in oceans of tears/ my sister’s alter ego /
A home to mother-tongues, the ones that began in India and found themselves in East Africa/
Blossoming frangipanis/ the essence of curiosity/ A novelty to the idea of feeling/
oceans apart from my lover/ a heart mender/ an ambassador for faith/ my father’s dreams incarnate/ the liquid that drips out of the fractured moon/ amber hues in autumn/
sunflowers smiling at the sun / a blooming forest fire/ fire.
I am a beating heart.
My name is سارة .