Breaching

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.

心腹事

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

“心腹事”

[Chinese version]

啊我暝目的好鸟
我送给你明宝玉以前黄金
而发白以前心爱的银

这语言是你不会知道的事儿
我一定认识你这样, 但想给你任何东西
补救我 陌生的字
退出来口里

啊学像我心
如果你敢于,把我遗弃在后面
又看又欲你的羽

珍珠跟我一起,夜间是短语
旁边是你星罗棋布
我的名字暗暗地
让你总是回来

啊你的忧郁的心灵
我的永远的同伴
栖息等到粼粼光

两半的我 (Two Halves of Me)

by Alex Eliasen

我的脑子是酸辣汤
白天造成了住在嘴里的粉糖
我一嚼二嚼还吞不下
试吐出无吃的甜食
我不禁一愣
怎么回事
睡甜美觉

眯着眼睛

头里战争的开幕式
引起大火和闪光灯
地越来热,脚烧伤
在肚子里玩儿的辣椒
让我肚皮成了煮锅
我以为我会去世
不过我心已烧死了

我慢慢地愈合
但我嘴还嚼
脚还烧
就灰没心

 

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:
Hospitals.
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?

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 .

To the government (or whoever masturbates to my mail),

by Anonymous

Words are omnipresent, they are dictators of a population. The Mandate of Heaven, Constitution, Communist Manifesto, Magna Carta have provided a historical lineage of political leaders owning the spirit of the masses. Doomsday preachers on Houston, children in the rural villages of Yunnan, even the great grandchildren of John F Kennedy all recite the prayers of such statuesque and now nameless leaders (do you know who drafted the Treaty of Westphalia?). I, for one, admit I have remained trapped in this genealogy. In fact, a portrait of George Washington officiated my marriage, he watched me sign off on the government’s possession of our every thought. Now I insist on enacting my revenge.

Here are my demands:

1.

Fuck me
Fuck me every singe day, even when I’m crying
Especially when I’m crying.
Use my tears as lube and fuck me
until I start crying again

2.

Chant my name, the name of my hermit crab, street name, grandfather, middle school science teacher whose toad like eyes remain repressed in my vision
Chant like you believe that Franco existed outside of the Iberian
Chant until the words you shriek are a generation’s doctrine
Chant until each little red book is worshipped in chapels, mosques, schoolyards
Chant until declarations outlive the image, until Mao is not just an Andy Warhol portrait
But a secular god
Chant until Mount Rushmore is Olympus
Chant until your esophagus fractures, collapses
Chant until it’s just sounds, a yodel through your teeth
Chant until even Roosevelt gets hard

3.

Open each door you come across
Before I pass,
Kitchen cabinets, cars, chests, books
All doors must remain unhinged.
I want my face to smash into all open doors, shins bruised battered, A/C units
Plummeting from your open windows
Keep them open
Wide enough to free each syllable
Sentences mean nothing
Unless they’re open
Open high enough
Open low enough
To where my blood and the words commingle
Form an unmovable mass that keeps the doors open

4.

Clean your hands before you touch me
Please God
Not with Mississippi tap,
No holy water
No mountain, snow, valley, river, glacier, sleet, rain, acid
Cleanse your hands with the creek water
By our house
And If the water runs dry
Wade in the dirt
Wait until the creek flows
Sit in the stars
Expect the creek to flow it always does
Rub your hands until they’re raw
Only then can you touch my skin, hair, toes
I want you to steal my words with your pristine hands
Translate your touch into writing
Into a notarized pledge
Feel my theories
Letting only creek water drop on my brow
Letting only the flow of each sediment build upon my mantras

5.

Read my thoughts
Repeat biased opinions back at me
Back to back
Create a dictionary of my images
Speak my transgressions
Regardless of my apologies
Wait for the moment
Wait for the anxiety before our first kiss
Wait for me to blackout, unfettered and filled with a Stalinist rage
Wait until I’m so emotionally exhausted from carrying the limp body of my desire that
I can hardly rise
Then pounce on my words
Vomit these phrases back onto my shoulder, pour units of language down my tank top
Fill my boxers
Briefly
With the constitutional doctrine of my love for you

6.

Marry my tongue, feel the saliva
Drip down your throat
Think of it when you’re showering
When your fingers
Have touched what I own
Rather
What my words own
And
When you start cumming in the shower
Think of your vow
The transcendent paper certificate
Your commitment to my legalistic possession of you
What is our love without a judicial signature
Without a vocal claim, our relationship is merely a transition phase
A waiting game
Where this social contract
Is purely carnal
So when the cum starts dripping down your leg in our shower
Don’t think of my face, not the minute details of my hip bones
Revive the promises
Wordy affirmations of power
Remember the documentation trapped in the fourth floor of city hall
The verbal agreement I’ve shoved down your throat each night since
Retain that spit for it is no longer mine

7.

Kill me when it’s time
Publish my diaries for I want to live forever

Is this not how you expected me to build a nation?
A family only exists with demands
Words piling on each other
Fulfilling the primal urge to exist infinitely
When you meet my demands
I no longer exist
Just words
But my words are what’s always been
Where would Russia have been without Lenin
Yet
There was no Lenin
Simply words
Sufficient to rally a population
Peace, land, and the orgasmic desire to remain submissive
The toe-curling, eye-rolling, leg-shaking gratification for oppressive language
Terror and words are codependent
If no-one died this wouldn’t exist
And so I demand you to follow them
But do you really have a choice?