love in the time of the coronavirus
no time is more perfect to test our love than a pandemic as we are forced to self-quarantine practice social distancing stock up on toilet paper in amounts that we do not need
they say wear a mask it hides my carnal instincts
I lie here in the guestroom a few feet away from your bedroom
thirsting after for your touch the soft graze of your fingers against my dry, barren skin
it is not an epidemic but rather a drout
a war between the wants of our bodies and the logic of our minds
I want to touch you, my dear
let me come inside
Jessica Nguyen is a writer, world traveler, and activist. Her first book of poems is “softly, I speak,” (Louisiana Literature Press, 2020), which was selected as part of the Louisiana Literature Press’s chapbook series. byjessicanguyen.com / @byjessicanguyen
buds hold each other in their hearts
Phoebe Chin is a registered psychotherapist and art therapist. https://www.phoebechin.com/
New York, USA
dispatch from quarantine
3/30/2020 - new york city
it is day 7 of quarantine/ and 7 months since my friends gaslit me/ and i can’t pretend the instagram stories don’t make me a little sad/ the zoom calls, i am not invited to/ the inside jokes i no longer know/ i cannot pretend the way they are so happy/ without me/ do not make the four walls of my room/ that much more empty/ grief changed me in a way/ i can only count/ by the number of days that pass between the mornings i wake up/ and do not remember how to go on/ yet i still do/ i thought earnestly that the grief would kill me/ and it didn’t/ the longer i stay here, the more empty my room feels/ but maybe this room is growing/ to make space/ for all the new things i can fill it with//
Kimberly Nguyễn is a Vietnamese-American poet originally from Omaha, Nebraska and currently trying to become a New Yorker. She has recently published a book of poetry, ghosts in the stalks, that explores the intersections of language, colonialism, intergenerational trauma, and diasporic experience.
It's odd, really, how I don't seem able to recall any of my dreams lately. They are more elusive than usual. I wonder if it has something to do with my "forgetting" how to do things. Things get so blurry, and I don't know how to do things right or the way I used to or the way they are supposed to be done anymore. I can't think of words, I mix them up, I don't know where to put a comma, I don't know the difference between 'past' and 'passed' without thinking about it for a long time.
I started realising this when I wrote the letters. Letters to Weina, Nile, and Kirstin - the letters I wrote because I wanted to send them something of me, because I wanted to say "hi" physically, because I like writing letters. Letters I wrote about 10 days ago and still haven't sent because I forgot to put them into the postbox on the way to the weekly grocery shopping adventure. So they're still with me; not having told Weina about how I felt like in a setting out of Dracula, writing by candlelight, and how maybe now the time has come to finally learn shorthand. Not having surprised Kirstin with a postcard inside the envelope after subtly asking for her address without telling her I planned to write. Not having showed Nile the purple flowers or the yellow sunflowers, and telling her that I always think of her when I see them somewhere.
Waiting for time to pass, and for my dreams to come back to me.
Noo (@noomaisonlok) is a queer Asian mouse living in Vienna, thus missing the ocean a lot. They write texts & poems, although currently, words mostly dissolve into nothingness.
Celine Dam is from Auckland, NZ and studies acting at NIDA in Sydney. She is Chinese-Vietnamese.
Unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territories (aka Vancouver, BC, Canada)
Rachel Lau is a queer Cantonese writer, artist, and radio producer. Most days they can be found daydreaming about queer futures and the Cantonese diaspora. racholau.com / ig: @racholauart
Jamie Jiang is a linguist and writer going to college in California. She birdwatches when she can, is currently learning Russian, and reads when her feet are warm.
West Midlands, United Kingdom
Today, I want my karriy brothy and thin. So, I dice one shallot and scrape it into the aluminium pot where it sizzles in a thin layer of sunflower oil. I add two chopped tomatoes, a cube of frozen garlic & ginger, salt, and curry power. This has been the longest and least active day of my confinement; spent mostly under the duvet in a strange state between wakefulness and sleep, interrupted by the sound of children playing or their intrusion into my domain with questions or moments of tenderness. They give love so abundantly and so expressively. When the base has cooked, I pour in lassi and stir until it boils, watching cut coriander stalks and leaves swirl. I pulled myself out of bed to lie in a bubble bath, my eyes closed and head afloat in a halo of foam. I let the water submerge me until the sharp sting in my nostrils forced me upright. If my body didn’t jolt me, would I stay underwater? I make karriy as a daughter, a mother, a lover, because the abundance my mother gave me was her food. Tonight, when half-dreams haunt me, I return downstairs, ladle it into a bowl, bring its spicy warmth to my lips and take it deep into my throat.
Naush Sabah is Co-founder and Editor at Pallina Press and Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal. She is based in the West Midlands and you can find her tweeting Doja Cat gifs @naushsabah.
New York, USA
finite infinitude: time
as it passes like the frequency
of light-sound. how this too/ will pass--
and memory— how she will persist
with this time too. for love— and this
errorfold of tears.
desire's edge like a razor
cut above grass–
a molten holiday excuses itself
like time's earthly cousin.
i do not name you after her
but wander southward–
in this terrestrial fold
of nothingness' glance
etudes stretched thin
i find myself caught in the silver light of fire-tongues
all rippling a different edge. the staircase does
not hold— that is, i find my heart beating again
and hear it in the thrumming echo of it raining egrets
— desire, again.
a way of being seen/ of wanting to be seen that passes beyond me into the rain of something like a departed hand, a half-image– a yearning that deposits me on the sandy bank of having wanted you. its sad really how in my head i have to mark it like an "it's over." but its helpful for me in this way to reclaim what is my own agency– that you had helped me to open but that i am alone now somehow and that that is okay.
paul aster stone-tsao (he/they/we) is poet, dancer, and spaceracer. he is currently based in brooklyn and is a 2019 Kundiman Poetry Fellow. their work can be found in No, Dear Magazine, Sine Theta Magazine, among others.
Tanya Pham is a Vietnamese-Australian student, writer, and skincare-enthusiast. She (currently) spends most of her days fishing... on Animal Crossing.