Durham, United Kingdom
PICNIC IN THE PANDEMIC
we gather like whole
shining marbles tumbling from
children's hands into each other
without intention or rules or god
offer the scant tenderness
of salt-water and the dirtiest chords
scoured from our exposed grating throats
the bird-wing thrumming of an open wound
sewing slowly shut
and who are we to deny ourselves
waiting tangerines that burst on touch
or crushed crisps whose salt sticks
to the roof of our tired mouths or
the wet undressing of every ghost
from our past ?
a revolt so simple as a willed
accident or guiding three pairs of palms
press into the little soft button
at the nape of your neck
letting them witness
the triggered opening lotus of your face
each ripe petal unfurling
the tight unfingered joy
Prerana Kumar is is an Indian spoken word artist doing her MA in English at Durham University. Her poetry explores home, belonging, pleasure, and loss by interweaving the personal and the political.
Kimberly Alidio is the author of the books, why letter ellipses (selva oscura, 2020), : once teeth bones coral : (Belladonna*, 2020), and After projects the resound (Black Radish, 2016), as well as several chapbooks. She’s a MFA poetry candidate at the University of Arizona. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, USA with her partner, the poet Stacy Szymaszek.
New York, USA
Annette An-Jen Liu is a Taiwanese emerging curator who recently finished her Masters in Art Curating at the University of Sydney. She is currently quarantining in New York, after completing a curatorial internship at the Museum of Modern Art. As a recipient of the ANCA Critic-in-Residence (CiR) award, she will be working with Art Monthly Australasia as an Art Critic Resident in the coming months.
A slow gold burn, lamb-and-pea-filled shells
all day I imagine their flakes falling from lip to plate
spiced, smooth, a prayer the size of my mother’s palm
their journey begins at 8am in strange kitchen light,
the sky’s hangover from Sehri stretches
through the window, onto the floured worktop
little white stars stirred with oil and salt
my mother peels the dough off her fingers,
washed in time for Zuhr, a midday kneeling before
it starts again set to medium heat, a marigold
blooming from the hob infused with cumin
and fennel, ginger, crushed coriander, chilli to taste
she lines the dough with meat and builds,
a careful crossing and folding before it slides
into crisp heat – it’s Maghrib now,
I place the aam, sliced in the shape of crescents
on the dining room table, sticky date syrup and lassi
in place for when my mother carries them in,
sizzling slick with light grease spotted with black pepper
and then we wait, and wait, for the first bite of samosa
to stitch itself to tongue, to shed its pastry skin
spread its curled wing, newly born, just in time for Iftar.
Nabeela Saghir is an English graduate from Keele University, with a British-Pakistani background. She currently runs an online blog on all things poetry and aims to publish a short poetry collection in the next few years. https://nabsticle.com/
Lenora (@lenorahuynh) is a Vietnamese-Canadian emerging artist and poet.
San Francisco, USA
Dear No One,
days like this pass as sunlight through windowpanes--
soft, struggling. the satin pothos wilts.
this at midnight, bathed in refrigerator light, resembles a self-portrait.
i unfurled maps and maps to get here. pointed at homelands i’ve never been to,
claimed topographies with pins and notes and drawn constructions of belonging.
i am writing letters to everyone i know.
lost friends, half-loves, ghosts of family.
i have not needed for so long, and there is so much ink
i could drown in it.
these are the fragments of a life wanting to break out of a beating chest.
i decide between sealing them in and setting them free, everything unspilling
like steeped tea out the kettle, like memories upon re-entering a childhood home.
to you, my first word.
爱 (ai). to you, my favorite ink color, konpeki blue.
all these things i’m sending--
a sip of grand marnier, piazza navona at sunset, my chinese name
—will be signed and delivered
with all the 爱 (ai) in the world.
at night, when i pull out the envelopes,
i glance out the window into the darkness,
and everywhere, there is the city. and in these pages,
everywhere, the city is on fire.
Liwen Xu is a first-generation Chinese American writer, based in the SF Bay Area. Her work has appeared in Model Minority, Mangrove, and Outrageous Fortune. During quarantine, she’s running park trails, stress-baking mochi muffins, and curating a haiku food Instagram @bon_appepoetry.
"It is better to speak" – Audre Lorde
Kiki is a fourth generation Japanese American woman having nightmares about the stories of incarceration her grandparents never told her. She resides in Cambridge, MA as a high school English teacher.
I managed to finish this collage today but have been thinking about it this past month. I believe I wrote this poem on April 2 and collaged it with film photos I've taken from and within my home.
Adrianna Chong is a visual communication designer from Edmonton, Canada. Her instagram is @adrianna_chong
Scottish Highlands, UK
The calendar on my phone glares April 26. I look back up at my mirror and think of how in another world, I’m jet-lagged giving awkward mano's and beso-beso’s to family who last met a teen foreign in her brown skin. Climbing into a rented van big enough for 10 but housing 12, soaring along the Skyway exchanging spit and stories in the stuffy air I can’t release because I don’t know the word “window” in Tagalog. Pabukas, pabuksan yung? I take my 7th, 8th, 9th steps of the day to open my window, remembering the BBC article that advised to keep rooms ventilated. It faces the back, nothing but grass and a Highland hill to greet me. I think of my grandma’s room, po, her window facing east overlooking the turn into our barangay, crowded with trundling tricycles and vendors hollering tahoooo! at 10am. I glance back at the mirror. It’s 5pm and I just catch the waning sun. It slides over thick eyebrows, Spanish eyes, a wide nose that flares slightly as I test a smile. I imagine how I could have been: prouder, grinning wider for the reunion photos, skipping in the Pilipinas sun soaking back the melanin I’d returned to the Scottish sunset. I watch myself, grimacing alone in a dimming room, and I wonder when I’ll have another chance at redemption. Bintana. That was it.
Monique (she/her) is a Filipino-Brit who’s still unsure how her Scottish identity feels in that hyphen. She’s currently spending lockdown figuring out how to make her favourite Filipino dishes vegetarian