My Namesake by Chloe Basch

A tangerine
Savored in juice or whole
Seldom served as a middle name.

 

Flakes of white
And a shell of supple epidermis;

 

A seed-chipped tooth
Beckoned by whispers of sweetness.

 

Round to be juggled,
Round to be prodded.

 

Titan-saffron
Under the beaming hospital bulbs
Which crackle and spark

 

Wishing to escape the confinement
Of all-knowing glass;

 

Waxen pale
Under the grit of the obstinate clementine sun.

 

Scapulas flash
In insight of their hindrance.

 

Your tongue splits its syllables
Into gelastic pairings of giggles

 

A sound never enshrined.

 

My name bears no romance,
Burdening no fame

 

Blooming from the teeming seams
Of my jaundiced-yellow veins.

 

 

Chloe Basch is a sophomore at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry. Chloe grew up in Manhattan and is passionate about impacting change through the written word. Her writing has been published in various publications including Creative Communications, Poetic Power, The East Hampton Star, and Bazoof Magazine. She is the recipient of the Scholastic Award Gold Key for her poetry. She was recently awarded a grant from Riley’s Way to amplify the voices of Ukrainian teenagers displaced by war. Chloe believes that words create our world and that the ability to write freely in society is a basic human right and one that allows for connectivity and powerful change.

 

Visual Art by Anthony Johnson
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How to Ride the 14 Mission Bus

1.
Avoid the loopies; if a nearly naked man
begins bathing himself in milk by the folding origami doors,
run. Or if a ravenous lady bites into your shoulder
for a mere morsel. Or if a man with RDA (resting drunk attitude) and
a skullet, enveloped in a power puff bathrobe,
describes his tumultuous love life
with the most unneeded details.
Or if a guy playing air guitar in a cascading cream ball gown
offers you a lollipop from deep in the flounces around his crotch, say no.
Or if a man cleanly removes his shirt and begins slathering himself
in slickening lotion. Avoid all eye contact.
They’ll just start talking to you more.

2.
Ignore the irrational, irritating teens,
infesting the back of the bus
like the stench of bubblegum vape and piss,
chucking half-open bottles of neon Gatorade at passersby,
tip-tapping random folks like woodpeckers
on a tree. And if they profusely repeat
“Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday,”
when you know in fact it is not your birthday, or when
they chuck bouncy balls at you, and even
though it shouldn’t be unbearable, you have the urge to punch them.
Instead, flip them off and run, knowing full well
they are much older and much stronger.

3.
Don’t be a dick. If a triple sweatered old lady
heaves herself onto the bus, and lurches towards your seat,
freighted with torn pink plastic bags
bearing broken bok choy and broccoli,
then you must stand. Especially,
if the bus is like a can of stewed tomatoes,
all mushed together, practically red sauce.
Or if a life-sapped mother trails by
clinging to a stroller, a boiling tea kettle of sorts
delicately adorned with lavishly looping leaves
and inside a ceaseless screeching,
then quickly make way.

4.
Escape.
Plow through piles of people rushing in
like ants to the nest before rain.
Dodging elbows, backpacks
and deafening debates
as you hurdle to the shit decorated sidewalk
shout ‘Thank You!’ to the driver.
This is non-negotiable.
Stuck in an endless loop
of bathrobes, tossed gatorade and screeching,
this simple courtesy might do them some
good.

 

 

Jude is the product of his Chinese, Indian, Native Hawaiian and bi-national US and UK heritage. Jude’s unique background and multicultural perspective enables him to contribute to the broader conversation on race and diversity. This background deeply informs his poetry, written while a Junior at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Creative Writing Program in San Francisco. His work is influenced by writers he greatly admires, Frank O’Hara and George Saunders. He is working on a novel that he hopes to publish before turning twenty-one. 
Visual Art By: Sherry Ruohan Huang
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This Isn’t Worth The Ink

This isn’t a poem. I’ve never written a poem before. You’re crazy.
This is a duck, a mallard man with a beetle for a head. You’re holding him, this
Fowl fellow with a yellow beak, as one might hold a hoagie, ready to bite, and
You complain about his lyricism? You’re crazy. Your brain is on strike, protesting
Working conditions, a little tiny thousand-neuron black lung march
With little tiny thousand-neuron National Guardsmen on their way to break it up.
The tiny working man has thrown off his tiny chains and extended his tiny
Still-raw hands in tiny kindness, and you critique his verse? You’re crazy.
Your stomach’s in your fingers and that is why you’re holding this avian American,
Thumbs salivating, because through feral eyes this is all just
A hoagie with mayo and mustard.

 

William Bittner is a high school junior from Birmingham, Alabama. He enjoys writing absurdist and natural poetry, essays, and short stories. He has received several awards from the Alabama Writers’ Forum.

 

Visual art by Samantha Su

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Three Poems by Eric Pak

Like My Father

 

When you told me I acted just like my father, I thought it meant I sported veins deflated by tar, scavenged for some twenties to fuel hunger, prayed to the toilet every night just to collapse on ceramic tiles.

 

When you told me you took care of me like my father, I thought you would have to scrape me off the floor of a gas station bathroom behind the Indianapolis Zoo, listen to the fading oscillations of heartbeat monitors, and bite your nails until four in the morning as the doctors fumbled through the halls.

 

When you told me I looked just like my father, I didn’t know I collected abscesses injected with abyssopelagic ecstasy, studied the mazes of flushed skin for the next needle, and balanced upon thinning marrows.

 

When you told me I lied just like my father, I didn’t know I sold the family ring for another hit, sifted through the crowds of junkies at the corner street, or told myself “just one more.”

 

If you tell me I will be just like my father, my veins will siphon until the ends tie shut and the pallor in my forearms begins to frost the skin like the sleet coating the chrysanthemums behind the Indianapolis Zoo.

 

 

Broken Tides

 

When it’s Monday morning, you will walk out the house and invent new features that you do not dare show at home: gentle hands, a painted smile, anything to abandon your true self. You will think about our walks on the Santa Barbara coast. The way the grains seep through your boned toes or how the waves beat at your ankles because you cannot stand on your own. You will clutch that flask in one hand, the one rinsed by war, the one trapping your wife’s pleas. In the other, expired meds you were supposed to take. You will try to keep the flask closed ‘cause you know Mother’s cries fill dead space. But when the day grows old, you will take a swig, the sleight of hand will chip away your soul and the ferments will bloom from your mouth. You will not recognize his sunken eyes and the red florid off skin, his weighted gait or legato’d words. When he fades, you will think about how Mother abandoned you. Perhaps you will wonder why you chose her like how a farmer picks their favorite hog or how a soldier aims at free will. Maybe, you will even think about the waves on the beach, glazing her wounds as she walks away.

 

 

Heirloom Recipe

 

  1. Visit the market past the bamboo stalks where azaleas cling to thin air and swindlers grift the crowd.
  2. Among the distant chatters and leaking floors, pick out the Napa from the vendor with calloused hands.
  3. When you reach home, wash the Napa with water, careful not to let any leaves drift to the mud.
  4. In the kitchen, fan out the leaves so they resemble the crescent moon the day Appa fled the village on his tricycle.
  5. Flick the salt in the veins like how the dirt spiraled in the air as his rubber tires carved the road.
  6. When the skin around your nails begins to shrivel, imagine they are Ginseng roots: Health, Luck, Prosperity.
  7. Mix the shards of Gochugaru from the hills of Jeolla-do with the ingredients from Halmeoni’s garden, where the back gate lay open: ginger, garlic, fish sauce, shrimp paste
  8. Knead the ingredients into each leaf so they turn crimson like the hibiscus fields that Eomma fled from.
  9. Fold each leaf into the clay pot behind the Mugunghwa trees.
  10. Bury the pot in the ground and sit by the window, watching the swallows flit by and the firs flutter while you wait and wait and wait.

 

 

Eric Pak is a 17-year-old Korean-American living in Thailand. He has lived in diverse countries around the world and aims to share his experiences through his writing. His works have previously been published in K’in Literary Journal, The Paper Crane Journal, and The Cathartic Literary Magazine.

Visual Art by Nahyun Sung
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Witching Hour

The ceiling smelled like old lace and the sigh of a dying star. Hovering there, I peered at the nun who glowered at me the same way an ancient, grizzled tiger eyes a young hyena. I threw my head back and cackled with the lubricated mirth of my cynical father’s lauder. My gaze travels to the lush forest of palms and cedars on my desk. Beneath their foliage of entwined fingertips and toes, a meticulously groomed garden of doorknobs, seashells, and Abbey Roads overthrows its gardeners and cracks beneath the pressure of a violet spotlight. A city, bedecked in the afternoon-kissed tears of ancient pearls, rises from tangled vines. The gates at Babylon Fall to children with water pistols and all around them, the baseball stadium erupts in a chorus of that forgotten anthem of constellations exchanging words in passing. The crowd departs, babbling beneath the sea of dried rose petal confetti. They return to homes of spun sugar and formaldehyde. They fill their goblets with diet pineapple juice and something from an angel-shaped bottle. Everyone is more palatable when they are sedated, and I am no different.

 

Caroline Adams is an eighteen-year-old high school student living in New Jersey and going to school in New York City. She’s studied creative writing at Columbia University over the summer of her sophomore year and is currently finishing her senior year at Loyola School.

Visual Art by Yuga 

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this is summer

the lady has the rugged streets of my mother’s
          hometown and my hometown carved
in her skin. arteries drawn across generations
          and people spilling like seas. imprint
the curve of my shoulder to theirs. mouths match
          rhythms of inheritance. glow like
manmade moonlight. thick oil slick against
          the ridges of my patchwork tongue.
we eat bingsu and i taste shavings of the city
          and sand slipping through my shoelaces.
we bury ourselves at haeundae fossilized into
          scratch marks. my father prays
hamburgers from the grill burnt just right
          with redwhiteandblue.
we plant flags in our backyard and they
          whisper to the wind words of
belonging. firework shadows curling
          behind us. pulsing sea pulsing salt
in my neck in my crumbling wrists. paper
          wrapping my bones. humidity
like my first skin. fingers linked we sink
          together into grass we grew. we let
ice cream carve seasons into our throats.
          tattoo the sun into my inner thighs.
every year i shed on the last day of may.
          my cousin trips on the sidewalk
buried in my pores in the grooves of my
          orchid veins i follow. we do not
hold hands. this is summer to me. this
          is summer. this is my egg yolk
sun. this is my peeling white paint. this is
          my dear halmeoni and grandpa.
this is my two-faced heart. this is summer. what is
          this.

 

bingsu (Korean) – shaved ice
haeundae (Korean) – a beach in the Haeundae district of Busan, South Korea
halmeoni (Korean) – grandma

 

Jeannie Kim is a high school junior from Chicago with a love for poetry, reading, and playing the flute. She is a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards gold medalist, and her writing has also been recognized by the Genius Olympiad and the It’s All Write Teen Writing Contest. In her free time, she is usually editing submissions as an editor for Polyphony Lit or listening to music.

Art by Saki

 

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An Elegy, Aided By 20th Century Japanese Literature

        i.        Night on the Galactic Railroad — Miyazawa Kenji

 

grandfather is rushed to the hospital

                as I wait for him to awaken

        I sit on a leather stool beside a window overlooking

        a soulless city of iridescent noise and raucous cars

on my phone, I read the book—

        the kanji are simple, easy for one like me who speaks

        broken

        Japanese

                to understand

its themes of death,

        the endless sky,

                and liberation of true heaven

make me whisper to my unconscious grandfather, fresh from a stroke,

“this book reminded me of you.”

 

        ii.        Naomi — Tanizaki Jun’ichirō

 

we know with some degree of certainty that

he will die

                within the next few days

and I go out to a nearby mall

        and buy a book— Naomi,   Naomi,        Naomi!

it is disgustingly raunchy

        borders on the pathologically inappropriate

the English translation, though, is lyrical

        yet still so hilarious.

                I can nonetheless tell how badly

        its salaryman protagonist would love

        to live again

        to begin again

        to love again

I tell grandfather over his

                wire-tangled

        bed

                in the ICU,

“you would be so disappointed if you knew

I was reading this.”

        he’s brain-dead, he won’t care what I read

 

        iii.        Dogra Magra — Yumeno Kyūsaku

 

once his body has died with his brain

        I return to the grotesque, surrealist comforts

of eclectic creatures like Yumeno

reading it online on my phone during his

fluorescent, Sprite-filled funeral with

                hopelessly slow internet

through    my   tears, barely comprehending    complex kanji

and incomplete, aberrant

        sentences that   repeat in 

        ludicrous loops

        ludicrous loops

        ludicrous loops

presenting its message of parlous life and rebirth,   the insanity of

being       alive      and being      dead      and being in the      womb

that motivate me to lean against a

                stretcher-like thing, not quite a coffin

and screech ugly, incomprehensible sounds to match Yumeno’s

        meaningless, yet so unbelievably integral, onomatopoeia

before the memory sprints away and

        all I know is the silver-scarred dust you

        return to

        you

        return to the womb

 

now I remember what to say

        “in another life,” I tell you, “we’ll meet again.”

 

CA Russegger is a high school student from OB Montessori. CA loves visual art, writing, history, and literature very much, and spends all day with these things. Can be found with many, many stacks of books of many, many genres—Shakespeare is always a guilty pleasure.

Visual Art by: Dawn Jooste

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To Fit The Part

 

Japanese square watermelons glisten in edges

a perfectly rounded cube, never sharp enough to draw blood

but shaved into beauty, enough corners to stay in place.

 

I wonder what came first, did an abnormal watermelon

happen to grow into a square that happened to be the shape of its cage

     or did the cage halt the fruit’s breath

     just early enough to fill

 

\\

 

I am quiet at first glance, five foot two, a fan of sweet earl grey tea,

a thin girl who likes to cook, Asian, a writer, not necessarily

     in that order, but then again, who decides this order?

 

Did I grow into a stereotype because that was all that was expected

of me in the country that once deemed me

unassimilable, then exceptional

 

A dirty carrier of the kung flu, spit on and cursed at then scrubbed clean

of color on a Washington performance report

 

     in the same breath

     in a matter of weeks

 

When I am white wiped of color, am I catered enough for you?

 

Does my neutralness signal lack of trauma

and does that sit well with you?

 

Will washing me colorless ease the white guilt that you so despise?

 

Or did I grow up with autonomy,

rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”,

to be as Asian as whoever I want to be?

 

     Hanbok trailing in watercolor silk and silver threads

     Midnight squid ink yielding thick Korean calligraphy

     Bullet-paced bargaining at traditional Sijangs

     Red hot rice cakes coated in Gochujang on winter nights

 

I look back at Seoul with my almond eyes

when it calls out to me, hands outstretched,

and know that I fit yet another mold here,

 

one that I am learning to describe. Forgive me, the privilege

of fitting in makes it hard to see what exactly you fit into.

 

and because of the way both halves of my life

have carved cages that seem to meld into my body

 

I may fit the part, but only by my will

     is what I repeat to set myself free.

 

Elina is a highschool junior from Seoul, South Korea. She attends Phillips Academy and is a graduate of the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference and the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. She is the executive poetry editor for The Qualia Review and loves to draw in her free time.

 

Visual Art by: Woohyung “Garfield” Jung

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Daughter

my mother is cursed. she sprouted from evil roots, gnarled and marred by the sour sting of expired love.

when her tendril emerged from wicked soil she was all bones, disjointed, already a skeleton.

leaf and leaf grew between paper cut parents, their verbal scissors poised to sever every smile.

she was five when she split her skull on the couch corner. hairline fractures blossomed with her stolen screams.

no blood, no telltale thorn, no silent sign of something. only a pain she forgot as swift as her mind shattered.

her branches were born from nothing, a lucid stalk scarred and sallow. the bark scratched like her fathers hands,

calloused and cracked and freshly rotten. every edge seemed wrong, too much like a memory.

she choked on sun, on this dewy fear of growing too cruel. her bike leapt over crumbling asphalt and her foot fell apart.

she didn’t realize for two days. the ache felt mute, dull, all too small to mean a piece of her was broken.

wearing her cast, toes sticking out the front how she hated, she still rode her bike into the wilting sun each night.

her stem ascended when foot touched frozen plane, a tangle of bloodstained vine. she never bloomed.

now she stumbles over her road blocked dreams. her palms kiss clouds. she tastes her own spoiled history.

steady as red ribbons, she laces her child with venom. poisoned daughter poisons family. she waters another cypress tree.

she is absolutely cursed. cursed to a life she has watched unfold. one shriveled, withered, ready to crumple.

she is a life sick mother. she is lonely. she screams until her throat is raw and her lungs weep and breath becomes a gift.

she still has not flowered. so far from the earth that gave her life, she feels it splintering her evergreen skin.

and unraveled from wish corpses and rusted hearts, dressed in fool’s gold, locked inside another woman’s mirror,

my mother believes she’s a lovely ghost.

Gia Bharadwaj is a dedicated young writer hoping to share her work with others. To enrich her craft over the summer, she was selected from a large pool of applicants to participate in GrubStreet’s YAWP Fellowship for emerging teen writers. Her poetry has previously been published in the Blue Marble Review. 
Art by Yuga
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Fateless

In Rio de Janeiro,
empty hands grasp broken promises.

Saturated unfamiliar languages travel in blind eyes,
collects like rivers in unnamed faces.

The tiredness of wanting is palpable and heavy,
scalding sacrifices in the plastic yellowed sand.

Spirits as quick as the desperate shootings that cross
the sky, dissolve into beings we cannot see.

In Rio, no one remains the same. The bodies are
caramel-colored — oily melting flesh, burning

into the ever-rising, drop of light. Invitation in the
form of pulsing mountain curves,

edible tights and uneven crooked teeth. Lilac
stagnant spots carve sanctuaries on their skin

recondite into its own deep. No one sees
the resentful taste on their mouths,

bitterness eternally whirling on closed tongues.
In the sky, dead constellations need no mourning,

no words collapsing into the beam of Ipanema.
The sputtering shooting became noiseless to all of us.

We chain ourselves to our beginnings
and that is all we can be.

 

Luiza Louback is a 17-year-old Latin-American Brazilian emerging writer and high schooler. Her work has appeared in national anthologies and has been recognized by the NY Times Summer Academy. When she is not writing, she teaches English to low-income students and advocates for literary accessibility in Latin America.

Visual Art By: Florence Liu

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