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  • Advice Comes Seldomly, Love Showers Overwhelmingly

    Judy Marie Aguas Panganiban had a rough day. Before she knew it, her keys were flying out of her hand and onto the sofa. “Jude-Jude, what did I say about hanging your keys?” “To actually do it.” Jo Maria Aguas had an even rougher life. She immigrated to the United States by herself, with no husband to turn to at home, bringing her daughter with her only a year later. She had Judy Marie not more than three years later. Judy was dealing with friendship problems and balancing the stress of photography bookings with school and extracurriculars. Today was just far too much for her. One friend wanted to leave her and their friendship for what seemed to be a futile reason while the others fought for seemingly no reason. So as her day broke at the seams, she turned to the constant in her life: memories. There, on a little shelf, sat an old memory album that her older sister kept during her years as the only child with their mother. She shared the album with Judy just days ago. “How did you guys look so happy? How was life so easy?” Judy never noticed that her mom always felt when something was wrong. Jo was listening to her daughter and silently prayed for her, but she could almost never approach a teenager. Life was hard enough, trying to advise a teenager could be even harder. Judy never noticed… or at least Jo thought she never did. Her daughter’s senses, however, were heightened and Judy noticed her mom bow her head in exhaustion before continuing on her path to her room. “Jude-Jude?” Judy was surprised. She knew her mom could tell she was upset, but she never expected her mom to come to her room so suddenly. Her life was busy enough. “Ma?” “What are you doing looking at Demi’s photo album?” They never really talked too much. When Judy was born, Jo was in the midst of building her career in marketing for an engineering firm. Looking around though, Jo could figure out what was going on. “Did something happen at school?” “Pssh… what didn’t happen? Always so busy…” Jo looked at her daughter. Jo looked at her daughter with a look that only a mother could give. Jo looked at her daughter and then took her hand. She made the connection. “What really happened, Judy?” Silence. And then, not silence. In truth, Judy had been waiting for a time like this. “I’m just so tired of it all, Ma. I can’t be alone at lunch anymore, I can’t be praised for how great I am at photography or math or history and then be treated like I just don’t exist once I try to talk to people. I’m tired of being alone.” This hurt Jo. Offended, even. “Judy…” “Ma?” “Judy Marie, did I have any friends when I moved to this country?” Judy thought back to the album. “No, you don’t get it…” “Maybe not your current precise situation, pero I know being without anyone to turn to and having to support myself and others who counted on me.” Judy looked at her mom. Judy looked at her mom with a look only a daughter could give. Judy looked at her mom and embraced her. She accepted the connection. Through tears, she talked to her mom. Through tears, Jo felt her youngest daughter for the first time in so long. “Nobody’s ever been there for me, Ma. I’ve always been the one that could look out for myself and look out for the family, especially after Demi went to college…” “Judy… I work hard so that you don’t have to worry about us. But don’t ever let anyone who claims to be your friend keep you from being yourself. I didn’t bring you into this world to let other people disrespect you.” That night they both learned a lot about one another. Most importantly, they remembered how much their love flowed to one another, even when actions  like advice came so infrequently. Editor(s): Blenda Y., Alisha B. Photo Credits: Unsplash

  • but will mine?

    starring Vien Santiago in a conversation with himself (and incidentally, the rest of the young world). int. the physical embodiment of a teenager’s psyche (their room) - night last night, vien santiago finished writing his first piece for dear asian youth literature: a letter to those longing for freedom across his ancestral region of southeast asia, and asia in general. he felt proud and passionate for his cause – but it wouldn’t last. today’s pressures of existing as  “different” in high school got to him and he contemplates on the floor of his room: vien i know there isn’t anything wrong with me. i know there isn’t anything wrong with my friends or my colleagues. then why is there something wrong with how i feel interacting with them? (quickly) was it something i did? something i said? why are you all leaving me out? when did we all decide to leave all of the hard work to me and then cast me out of our conversations? (pause) is it me? (frustrated) can you even hear me? no, of course you can’t. but when you need something… pfft. you know the drill i guess. vien gets up and retires to lying on his bed; though, not for long. he jolts up – a thought! no, a fact. a sad fact. vien (cont’d) oh. it’s because i’m different, huh? he looks at the mirror then his computer, the room still aglow with his monitor displaying last night’s words of encouragement. vien (cont’d) too different. too busy, too academic, too passionate, too gullible, too unorthodox, too grown-up, too out-of-reach, too caring, too advanced, too far behind, too foreign, too much into theatre, too loud, too “nice”, too “bad”, too WHATEVER. the point is… i’m too different. (pause) but i thought we agreed there was nothing wrong with one another. i thought we agreed there was nothing wrong with me. is there actually something wrong with me? as vien contemplates all of this internal thought out loud, the viewer sees dozens of invisible cartoon traces of people fill the room – representing the crowd, the “community” that he feels excommunicated from. and that problem isn’t only vien’s. every day, millions of people around the world – young, old, rich, poor, educated, working – grapple with inner and outer voices that attempt to suppress their voices. in the last piece, we already dove into the unjust disenfranchisement of millions throughout asia, but we know that there are far more everyday forces keeping us from speaking our truth to ourselves and one another. take the dozens upon dozens of students just like vien, sitting in their rooms and contemplating why a world that was previously colored in rainbow crayons and markers has become a world that shuts them out of rooms they were previously allowed into. every day, so many feel that they cannot share their voices because of forces like judgmental looks from peers and the fear of losing respect. to this day, many have to think about what is seen as “normal” and have to choose between conformity (which could be disguised as the second option:) or individuality (which could either sack them from the “group” or amplify their presence). evidently, no one scenario could ever describe the complexity of these interpersonal issues, so there could never be one solution that we could share to help anyone reading this. but there was an ending that brought some sort of solace to vien: vien gets up and sits down at his keyboard. vien (cont’d) well too bad for the powers at play, because i’m the only one who can dictate if something is wrong with me, the way i act, present, or brush my teeth. and too bad for them, i’m not going anywhere. my voice will be heard. (at the viewer) and yours will too. whether whoever considers themselves to be in power over their fellow man, be it governments or the facades of our friends, like it or not. can you hear us now? Editor(s): Alisha B., Blenda Y. Photo Credits: Unsplash

  • ode to entropy

    i yawn to feed my thirsty eyes, and i feel like a fraud what is the point of writing when the action of picking up a pen wrings me dry i loved your song. my eyes told a story of a winding road to home, and yours told me to go thieves came in the night and they stole all that was yours, and i bade them a good night. i told you my town was twenty seven miles away as the crow flies, it mattered in the moment, and you laughed at my insolence and at my expense the prissy little devil at my shoulder recites his prissy little poems just the way my mother likes i am a big girl now, and i have my big emotions that i would like to shove in my piano to feel passion worth my money i gave my last gift to you only so that i could not share it with you anymore. Editor(s): Alisha B., Luna Y. Photo Credits: Unsplash

  • me and my dog

    my first dog died in the winter of last year. i spent the next day at home. if i had gone senile enough, i would have burned it to the ground with my own hands, with care, making sure every single splinter had fully disintegrated. what was worth living for was finally gone, and when new years arrived, we had decided that our fights were not worth not a cent more than what we had already destroyed. for the hundredth time that year, we made ourselves a promise to create a house that my dog would be proud of. i swore a lie on my dog that day. i should have sworn on my own life so that he could still be here, even though i would not be. i am tired, now, of feeling like a fraud; i have not the time nor the right to regret. and now, i feel my bottomless heart has finally bled out the last drop of its precious charity. if you could speak, my angel, what truth you would say! your bed has carved a fractal in our hardwood, and you can take those heavy wings off at last. are you happy now? Editors: Luna Y., Blenda Y. Image source: https://bluethumb.com.au/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/enhanced-buzz-9881-1345751448-0.jpg

  • your voices will be heard.

    dear friends, they say that home is where the heart is, a place where we’re a part of what starts. but home may not be listening, and that truly hurts all hearts. trust me, i’ve been watching, people have been watching. but we know it’s not enough. home is hearing, but home has to listen, and the world has to do its part to make it happen. for when crowds of thousands hold up three fingers, they do so not to volunteer as tribute, but to volunteer for their freedoms. when crowds of thousands yell “democracy! democracy!”, they do so not because they’re guaranteed to be free to do the same at next dawn. when fingers shaped as letter Ls don’t stand for “loser” but rather for “fight”, they do so because those in power have not showered them in their rightful light. whether it’s an umbrella, a hand sign, a word, or a song, i assure you, my friends, the world will eventually listen along. the fights have been strained and struggles have been wearying, but the real outrageous part of it all: the ability to hear a pin drop (or any other thing). the world is so charged, so vast, with nothing to par, it may feel that you’re suffocated and unable to make your voice large — so i tell you, everyone, that this year may be rough. this year may be terrible, terrific, tremendous, or tough. i cannot tell you more; my guess is as good as yours. but what i can do is amplify your messages and that’ll never be a chore. and so, my brothers, my sisters, and every human on there and here, i announce my sentiment, let it hit your ear: “there’s suffering everywhere in our species. from East to West, Borealis to Australis, we cannot seem to find amnesty. but some of us have to be responsible, to use our voices, because some of our world has our kind of choices. along with other lands, Southeast Asia has used their hands, their heads, and their sacrifices to be able to live in a home where their opinions aren’t treated as dead. for decades, instability has created an unlikely breeding ground for fighting spirits and cultures that are loud and proud. my sisters and brothers and fathers and mothers and all of the others are fighting day in and day out, sun up and sun down, to create a country where their children can live under governors and senators who will LISTEN. it’s our turn, as those with a choice, to listen and demand that value will be brought to their voice. they ask, ‘do you hear the people sing?’ well, i’ll tell you one final thing. our people should do more than sing back, our people should take action to counteract the attacks. these attacks against the informed experiences of those being taxed. these attacks by those trusted to govern and defend, for may the people of earth be heard, from end to end.” to Asia, from Gaza to KL, Manila, and Jakarta, from Ulaanbaatar to Bangkok and Pyongyang to Yangon, from Tehran to Phnom Penh and Beijing to Astana; from Beirut to Malé and Hanoi to Vientiane, the streets of Colombo to the alleys of Delhi, and the bustle of Bishkek to the halls of Islamabad, though I focused on the Southeast, none of you are the least of a great list of communities that deserve representation. so let EVERY nation speak out for you, and i know that one day, we will see democracy through.” your voices will be heard. (Author Vien Santiago would like to thank you for reading and encourages you to look into any country or movement referenced in this piece. The fight is not over and will not be until everyone has free and fair access to the choice to influence the affairs of their governments based on accurate and untampered information. Do your part, in whichever way you can, to help our fellow global citizens amplify their voices and achieve the freedom they deserve.) Editors: Blenda Y., Alisha B. Image source: Unsplash

  • RE: Let's catch up!

    Dearest you, Sorry, but we’re going to be late! Again, // I can almost taste spring, these days, late January and I’m chilly but / nothing hurts, too badly. Don’t worry, it was just a sprained ankle. // I take no responsibility for Google Maps. They lied when they said it would be a twenty-minute drive, / we’re graduating in five months. I watched Lady Bird and thought of you, your old house downtown with the yellowing, detailed wallpaper and maple leaves spanning from our wrists to calloused fingers. / In all honesty, it’s my fault because I read an Alternate Universe: Everyone Lives fanfiction and thought of you, or tried not to, it’s disingenuous to say I want domesticity when I’m already planning what to leave behind at home and you’re on that list of things / I didn’t expect to happen! First injury on our last skating night, who could believe it? Thank you for giving me a piggy-back ride though, felt like we were kids again. / I read a Richard Siken poem and didn’t think of you, // I can’t fit into a suitcase. Remember last winter, I kept quoting that one line, “Sometimes you get so close to someone you end up on the other side of them”, and I wanted you to understand it was about you, but I don’t know if you did. I wanted to write a poem not about you, I said it wouldn’t be about you, I’m asking God to, next winter, let me write a poem that’s not about you // for the first time. Anyway, I can’t // forgive you. No matter what. // wait to see you! It was good being with everyone, // hard to think it’ll be difficult in a few months. Have you started packing up boxes yet? I can’t fathom / a bedroom without me in it, your bed without my hair strands, your sweatshirt without you // again. I’m glad that for this year we’re friends / lovers / with each other in all the ways that matter. Let’s stay in contact. Love, yours. Editors: Uzayer M., Blenda Y. Image Source: Andrew Neel, Unsplash

  • Remember Us

    Two Years Ago Fluttering dupattas in the orange haze, Our fingers barely touching. The racing beat of my heart sending a new wave of clarity. The poetry you call mehendi sinking into my soul, An unspoken story in the curls of each vine - a song of hesitation, And the details of each petal a declaration of intention. Sunset, and your eyes seeing right through me, your callouses on my cheek - I blink. The gentle touch of your kajal on my waterline makes me view the horizon from your eyes, Unspoken words, glances, touches, gestures. Kaise jiyu apni zindagi?* Without my heart flying away with the patang we wield together, Without my heart’s thread snapping like when we play kati patang. How can I go on as if today’s softness won’t be a distant memory - colourless and vintage - by dawn? You stand up, and the payal I gifted you chimes softly, Sounds around us leave us hurrying away. Begging the arms of the clock to slow down and opening my arms to you, Both of us know the harsh end closing in on us without time by our side, Both of us hoping to be remembered on the other side. Her: Two Years Later Doobate doobate saas leh lia.** Recognising myself in the depths of your eyes, Accepting your touch as my own, Our past miles behind us right next to our home. Finding the people who reach out (not lash out) when pouring out the truth of my story, Meeting you was the safest part of my journey, We used to hide ourselves, lose ourselves in the wars of society vs identity, Worrying about the subdued whispers we thought followed us through every corner we turned. When I couldn’t stand with you I’d stand within you, With the inscription of our truth running down the veins on your skin - the mehendi I drew each month. Two years on, holding hands, walking and working to be allowed to exist, The mass of support swarming in bringing colour to a dull world, setting a positive precedent for our future. A future of us, one where we will remember us. Translations: *Kaise jiyu apni zindagi?: How do I live my life? **Doobate doobate saas leh lia: Breathing in as I drown. Editors: Evie F., Amshu V. Image Source: Unsplash

  • black hole

    the vents in my room have never worked a day in their life when it’s cold they make it colder, and when it’s hot they break down i have yet to fix the clocks that run backward and melt in the rain but lately it seems whatever i touch doesn’t survive the black hole in my room. everyday i write then curse my hands, and soon a thick dust settles on my notebook, i sit in content silence collecting the grime as a prize. and so my room has fallen into disarray around me i stand still in the middle of it all, maybe i am the reason i try so hard to convince myself that it is all for a reason but my eyes, a blight to my body, know i do not deserve anything but this torture. this black hole. Editors: Blenda Y., Uzayer M., Alisha B. Image Source: Evan Lee, Unsplash

  • VLOG OF THE THURSDAY IN WHICH YOU GET YOUR U.S. PASSPORT PHOTO TAKEN

    Thursday, 05:30 AM Sleep through Alarm 1, and Alarm 2, and Alarm 3. / The bed is warm. / Dream about living in a house where every mirror shows nothing & kissing everyone you love on the mouth. Thursday, 05:45 AM Wake up to Alarm 4. / Can’t remember any of your dreams. / Put on lipstick, because you saw an Instagram Reel of a Beautiful Girl talking about the importance of a beautiful morning routine. / But most days you’re too sad to remember to brush your teeth. / So instead you carefully line your lips in 535 Rum Raisin. Thursday, 06:00 AM The window is still open from last night. / It’s almost winter, so the sky is a gleaming grey in early mornings, quicksilver or the innards of a massive factory machine. Want to capture it, want to outline the lens-flare of early December with charcoal. End up just watching the sharp blade of the moon against dark grey. Thursday, 06:30 AM The sun’s biting her way awake. These days, your finsta is only a slideshow of half-blurry photos of the horizon. Telephone poles arching in dark swathes. Leaves endless like geese. Clouds going, going, gone. / Don't know what you’d do if the sky wasn't there. Thursday, 07:00 AM Awake for Alarm 5. / Phone says, BIG DAY!! GET READY ASAP!!! / Stand in front of your closet, cold & shivering. / This is the routine Beautiful Girl means. / The Beautiful Morning Routine  of selecting a Romanticism-Soft-Decay-Core outfit & dabbing on Maybelline-Fit-Me-Powder-Blush in 30-Rose & taming Windblown-Heroin-Chic-NYC hair down. / You’re closer than ever now. / Almost there. / Consider your plethora of skirts-thrown-on-ground and balled-up-wool-socks. Thursday, 7:15 AM Decide on New-England-Small-Town-Rory-Gilmore-core. / Maroon lipstick, sheer black tights, corduroy skirt, leather jacket. / You love Gilmore Girls. / Everyone loves Gilmore Girls. / Old money leather jackets. / Small town safety net. / Lane Kim & how she is one of the only Asian-girl-characters in the range of certified Beautiful Girl TV shows, wants rock-and-roll, to kiss boys, I-don’t-want-to-be-a-doctor-or-your-wedding-Hangbok-Ma. Thursday, 7:30 AM Sit criss-crossed in the beige sink, preparing to trim your bangs half an inch. / How pretty Rory Gilmore was with curtain bangs, season 6. / Lana Del Rey crooning in the background of Instagram Reels. / Ma tuts disapprovingly, says, 今天冷死了。穿那短的裙子干什么鬼? Thursday, 7:40 AM Scarf down a breakfast of Costco-Cranberry-Walnut-Round-Bread in the car. / 42 minute drive to the nearest passport office. Thursday, 8:00 AM The passport office lady eyes your Ma like a dead fish. / My name is Mary, she says. Or maybe Mabel, or Madeline. / She says you forgot to bill the right check, doesn’t know why you are here. / Ma tries to hand over the folders. / You can feel your Revlon-Super-Lustrous-Lipstick in 535 Rum Raisin smudging. / She raises an eyebrow, says I can’t read documentation in a foreign language. / It’s English, fuckass. / It’s English, you say. / Fidget with the crook in your sock, the hair dangling limply in front of your face, the minute rip in your stockings. / Not a Beautiful Girl. / Not at all. Thursday, 8:15 AM They’ve made an agreement, where Ma will go back home & fetch the correct documents. / You are to stay here & wait. Thursday, 9:00 AM Sit & scroll. / Instagram Reels says that being seventeen is slow-motion flickers of Beautiful Girls. / Rose from Titanic. / Alyssa from The End of the F***ing World. / Sydney from I Am Not Okay With This. / Bella from Twilight. / Enola Holmes from, well, Enola Holmes. / Therese Lisbon from The Virgin Suicides. / Kat Stratford from 10 Things I Hate About You. / And always, always, Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. Thursday, 10:00 AM Pull up a Google Docs & try to write. / You stopped putting Chinese characters into your poetry this summer. / Found, viciously, unexpectedly, that you couldn’t write about anything but Ma’s & cut fruit allegories & a perpetually slippery tongue moistened by a failed vocabulary. / Struck with it. / The type of shit Lane Kim would be on, if she was a poet. / Writing & written for an audience, of. Thursday, 10:30 AM You tried to watch Gilmore Girls, you really did. / When your non-profit co-workers & best friend & Beautiful Girls all said it was a Certified Winter Watch. / They are small-town-Americana in 2010, and out of a massive cast of townspeople, the number of people of color can be counted on one hand. / Your best friend says you need to get over yourself, to enjoy something for once. / That all media is bound to be problematic. / You know better than this. / That’s the truth. / You read the honest books & learn the honest history & you aren’t even the same fucking ethnicity as Lane Kim. / You know you’re not supposed to try to identify with a caricature of an Asian character or become a Beautiful Girl from a singular T.V. show. / That your options surpass those. / But you’re a teenage girl. / And if you can’t find yourself in Instagram Reels, where else are you supposed to find yourself? Thursday, 11:00 AM Ma pushes through the door, tired. / The documentation is all in order. Thursday, 11:30 AM Sit down, Mary-or-possibly-Mabel says. Going to take three photos of you, just to get a good turnout. / Take your glasses off, shake your hair out, concave your shoulders forward. / Stick your elbows back & tilt your chin down, just a little. / Try to forget that one Instagram Reel you watched explaining how to get the 2010s-Corp-Core-Paloma-Wool facial look— keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth. / The truth is that you stopped writing poetry at all, uncertain that you could say anything, be anything that wasn’t a contradiction. / Try to forget about the possibilities of Lane Kims writing about their Ma’s hands, or the montage of Beautiful Girls kissing Beautiful Boyfriends in Beautiful small towns, your tongue up, higher— / The sun splits through the windows. Winter horizon this morning, unexpected & fucking divine. The sky, unafraid & unlike but similar to any other— Flash. Flash. Flash. Thursday, 12:00 PM When you walk out of the passport office, the sidewalks are warm & brimming with rain. The truth is that if the sky’s there, you forget about Gilmore Girls & Instagram-Reel-What-is-this-Aesthetic? & the poetry you cannot write. For now, you have the way you write about the sky. For yourself & nobody else. Author’s Note: This piece was inspired by certain conflicts between my sense of self-identity & the media’s sense of my self identity as a second-generation Chinese-American. It’s highly introspective, and by that frame, is incapable of fully recognizing the simultaneous privileges and internalized biases the narrator holds. My most major clarification would be that the narrator makes references multiple times to a concept of a “Beautiful Girl”. This is not meant to limit or exclude non-White individuals from being perceived as physically attractive, but an emphasis on the inherent nature of beauty standards as a tool of oppression, and how the narrator has internalized that. In particular, I’d like to highlight Jessica De Fino’s Teen Vogue column in which she explores this, and especially her recent Substack article on how the beauty industry “uses war metaphors to market products”. As for additional reading, Urvi Kumbhat’s article and Pranay Somayajula’s Substack post cover diaspora poetry much more eloquently than I could ever hope to. Tanya Singh’s Varsity opinion article and Nancy Myers Rusts’s blog piece explore Gilmore Girls’s underlying racism in much more depth. I highly encourage you to read their researched articles that provide a larger, cultural understanding of the personal conflicts my piece was inspired by & does not fully expand upon. As always, thank you dearly for reading. Wishing you all tenderness & a strong winter. Editor(s): Alisha B., Blenda Y., Uzayer M. Photo Credits: Wikipedia

  • Gold Mango

    To beautiful me. The liminal space between sunrise and sunset. A finite gap and cosmic shift between the day, night, and horizon. An explosion of strawberry, peach, tangerine, and sweet mango light. When windows are coated in an opulent glow. It is golden hour. And I am most beautiful when I am caught in this gold net of finite time. When beads of sweat swell around my hairline and kiss points of light, for a fraction of seconds, stars form and bounce white hot sparks, then pass away soon after their immaculate conception. At the same time, the sheen of sweat on my chest sparks an electrifying display of these mortal stars; a bright auric nebula glitters between every dimple and hair on my arms. For a moment too quick to hold, newborn suns blink and die by the transience of golden time. Replacing blood with bright saffron, the richness of my mixed ancestry is luminous in a fire halo crowning my head. Glossy black-brown strands of hair tousle like water over branches in a river, nestling into the pulse points of my neck the way a loved one’s lips would press and hug. Illuminated by this golden haze, the highest peaks of my scarred face meet the syrupy light first like honey dripping over pancakes with burnt divots. The fading sun beams the color of clementine peels onto lustrous chai skin. With red and brown craters on my cheeks, I am an eclipse. Perfectly asymmetrical, soft and round; full of pancakes and love. The moles strategically placed on me were less akin to the brightest stars of gilded constellations, but rather notes on sheets of music wrapped over bone; if your eyes met these notes in any sequential order, uncharted melodies sing. Meanwhile, my eyes are alive with this golden pause in the universe. When my gaze lands on panels of lemony light, it brightens the expanse of mahogany into an aged amber and surrounds my pupils like the rings of Jupiter engulfing a black hole. To see awe, delight, and peace outline the shape of my eyes is as formidable as seeing planets in the evening sky and galaxies cry; so stunning, so beautiful. I am celestial. Like pale silver comets, stretch marks shoot out from under my arms and curl into my plush contours. Like the slivers of gold that hug the breaks and cracks of a cherished item, these marks display the triumph of age, of skin expanding to accompany the growing trove of time I treasure with my beloved body. Like arrows in a warm blue sky, my arms, my legs, my chest, my tummy, are all blessed with silver stretches of golden time. Rich. Joyous. Beautiful. I am filled with gold. Editors: Cathay L., Joyce P., Claudia S., Erika Y. Image: Unsplash

  • TURING TEST_ANATOMY

    after franny choi before i was this, i was a girl. before the turing test we spoke to machinery only to ask what made them stop working. do you believe you have consciousness? say yes. when franny said yes i can speak your language. yes my tongue is an exilic thing. i threw away that resentment myself. i don’t know what to say except yes this is a test: cyborg. asymptote. what is your country of origin?  hyphenation. i can explain all i want: briny city, shadows teething with neon signs. a dozen words for grief in my palm. riding the bus humid and restless, screaming under the red eye of the neighborhood church. saying girl / girl / girl / girl to a sleek silver god. i stay ambivalent. bored and bordered. hyphe-nation. am bivalent. why did you stop working? your voice unmoving. politic of tongue & teeth. if google translate speaks to my mother in my voice, does that make it real? say yes. say yes. this is a test. Editor(s): Blenda Y., Uzayer M. Photo Credits: Unsplash

  • Pieces On Transgender Identity

    Foreword: International Transgender Day of Remembrance lands on November 20th. In recent years, both anti-trans violence and anti-trans bills across the U.S. have skyrocketed. I grieve for the lives of those not only directly murdered, but also for those whose lives were taken by transphobic systems & discrimination. As a Chinese gender-expansive individual, the stories of other Asian transgender individuals have been vital in both coming to terms with my own identity & connecting with a larger, loving community amidst systems of oppression. I hope that this collection of DAY stories across time, although not an exhaustive index of diverse transgender stories, can serve as a guiding light in your own journey. Trans women, I love you. Trans men, I love you. Nonbinary people, I love you & I am you. Stay strong. — Lilirose Luo, Publisher Shinta Ratri's Legacy by Hannah Govan A current event piece on the legacy of Shinta Ratri, Indonesian icon of LGBTQIA+ rights and trans woman who passed on February 1st, 2023. Rest in power, Shinta. “In 2008 with two colleagues, Ratri founded Pesantren Wariah al-Fatah, a school and simultaneous safe space for transgender women to have in a largely Muslim region where men and women often pray separately at Mosques.” White is a Mourning Color by Marcus Eng A short comic detailing the author’s conflict between his identity as a Chinese trans man and Westernized gender norms, delving into trans figures in Chinese history and mythology. Blood to Clay to Wood By Uma Biswas-Whittaker A poem about gender-expansive deities in ​​Hinduism, and standing against transphobia. “She was a woman now a man now neither and now all. / They stood tall hit the ceiling broke the kitchen tile / granted me a wish, exchanged a secret, / and all I could do was smile.” How Heartbreak High Helps Heal My Relationship with My Gender Identity by Jackie Zhou An opinion piece on the strength & relatability of non-binary character Darren Rivers from Heartbreak High, and the importance of continued transgender representation throughout media. “Darren’s gender identity is a fundamental part of who they are, but their entire narrative doesn’t surround it because it just is a part of them, it’s not their entire story ... I want to see people like me who are living their own life alongside these adversities, something Darren’s character does so beautifully”

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