Lily is a Vietnamese-Australian who lives in inner-Melbourne. She's spending her time in social-isolation missing her friends and making useless things.
[originally written on April 3rd in Mexico City]
In his frustration, his brows almost touched. One bead of sweat sat in between, threatening to drip, land, and bleed on our comic. It seemed we had all the time in the world, but they are liquid - always slipping out of our hands. He hated it; he hated wasting time. Even when he was cursing the situation, his hands firmly gripped the markers, outlining the characters we created. He hated “the situation.” So much. The white, little sparkle in his eyes glared in the neon white light each time he looked up from the paper. I didn’t know what to say, only that I had been feeling the same. I walked over to sit on his lap, and he put his arms around me. I told him to breathe in slowly, for seven seconds at least. He failed. He only did four, at most. I laughed and then we laughed. Nothing was alright in the world. Nothing was certain. I watched the white, little sparkle in his eyes danced and wiggled. It was playful and still fervent.
Wirunwan Victoria Pitaktong is a writer, translator, and researcher. She was raised in Bangkok, Thailand, in a Chinese household. After some years in the States, she now lives in Bangkok.
Los Angeles, USA
Nic Yiu is a gender queer writer, who’s doing their PhD in gender studies. Being a QPOC in diaspora, they write about their experiences of migration, kinship, and intimacy. Born in Hong Kong, raised in Beijing, educated in Toronto, and PhD-ing in Los Angeles, Nic does not belong to one place but is rather a composite of these different places and cultures.
Poem to Solitude
Since the day I was birthed from the mouth of July
Solitude was a volcanic crater I clung to as I waited
To be named by the souls molten beneath me.
Here, trees grow taller and flowers flourish
Faster when planted in the ashes of their ancestors.
Each day, I woke to the breath of solitude. In rhythm,
She taught me to breathe life into the fertile
Soil I was sown upon. Together, we strengthened
And divided my roots to claim the earth
Between her inhales, my exhales. Volcanic
Glass and plant matter kissing our body
Like skin. In the nape of her branches
I learned to crawl before I could walk,
To walk as if I would never fall,
To fall as if to fly,
And to fly.
But that was the easy part. You see,
The problem with solitude is it’s often mislabeled
As the home of stillness, where stillness
Is often mistaken for silence. But solace,
Unlike silence, sings not
Of sorrow but of patience, paying homage
To time borrowed. Call it selfishness or sacrifice,
The moral of this story stays the same:
Beware of those that can’t see you in the dark.
When the moon rises, wax and wane
To you own time. Only then can you glow
Without the sun.
Lucky Li (they/she) is a first-generation Chinese-American immigrant artist, designer, and community organizer. Their work has been seen at institutions like Simmons University, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, University of Massachusetts Amherst, New York University, and Junior High art gallery.
Lumpia: my favourite kind of spring roll. I used to think spring rolls were interchangeable, but not this one. Days dipping fingertips into the water to wet the sides of thin translucent crepe paper pastry. We mixed the vegetables, meat, and heavy doses of herbs and spices, mixed it sticky into round ball babies and rolled them into their blankets, wrapping them snuggly and folding the covers with the intricacy of napkins or origami swans. The thrill of you holding the pan and me dropping in each one with a sizzle. I watched your patience, your lumpia perfect symmetrical rows of dancers. It was always clear which were the ones I made, irregular and made with love not skill, but you would choose those ones to eat. We plated them and let the kitchen roll absorb the oils. We would get soy sauce and Mang Tomas banana ketchup, swooping them into the cold dip, steam pouring out from the first bite. I never had the patience to let them cool. I loved the crisp crunch as the pastry would chip and fall, the warming golden fried delight and the piping hot surprise. It would be a day of cooking and grazing, always eating or rolling or frying. As I eat this lumpia from a local restaurant, a stone’s throw from my flat, a special lockdown treat, I think of my mother on the other side of this island and text her to ask her for her recipe.
Katalina Watt is a Filipino-British author published in Haunted Voices, Ceremony, Unspeakable, Malefaction Magazine’s Femme Fatale, and Extra Teeth Issue Two. She can be found at katalinawatt.com and @katalinawatt.
New York, USA
Swati Khurana is an NYC based writer and artist quarantining with her partner and their 9-year-old, with her parents in the Hudson Valley, that is being chronicled by a podcast project called #Khuranatine. She misses dropping off her child to school, wandering around grocery stores touching all the fruit, and doing in-person Tarot readings with lots of hugs. @tarotbooksradio / www.swatikhurana.com
waking to rain, I imagine
1. how William Wordsworth planted a field of daffodils for his daughter after she died of tuberculosis
2. how those daffodils would gather the last spring rains droplet by droplet in the curves of their petals, waiting
3. how the birds would stop to drink from those petals, then fly away with beads of water clinging to the tips of their beaks
4. how they would disappear into the pre-dawn mist, their wings unfurling like the flowers from which they had drunk
5. how their gentle polyphony would push the lingering clouds apart just in time for sunrise
6. how that sunrise would chase the last rivulets of rain as they rushed into the gorges at the edges of the field
7. how some of those rivulets would slip into the freshly turned earth and laugh like children at their escape
8. how they would later feed new stems from seeds shaken loose by midnight brushes of unknown winds
9. how the birds, remembering the flowers that had sheltered those seeds, would not fight over them as they lay, unresisting, on the ground
10. how Wordsworth would look on, his face streaked with rain which would leave the outlines of daffodils as it dried
Maggie Wang studies history and economics at the University of Oxford. Her poetry has appeared in Canvas, Hypaethral, and ASH, among others.
He made a jam roly-poly and left it on my doorstep. I ate it not because I was hungry but because I wanted to taste love again.
Elizabeth Chan is an actress and writer based in London. Twitter/instagram: @thisislizchan
I wanted to write new poems but all I could do is to gaze at the sunny, empty landscape outside thinking of how we have turned into the timeless figures in Hopper’s paintings.
It feels like I have been sitting on a bench in a hospital corridor, waiting. Waiting for the doctor to come out with the news, waiting for the patient to wake up from a coma, waiting for the world to get better soon.
I can’t really start writing poems in a hospital corridor. The fluorescent light is too harsh.
Currently my larynx feels very swollen. This condition becomes much worse after watching any news.
Every weekday morning Charlotte and I would watch the home learning videos. It's reassuring to see Mrs Spooner teaching phonics from her living room.
I was supposed to go to New York for a reading in early May. I was so looking forward to it.
Trump angers me.
My friends in Hong Kong are carrying on as normally as they can, wearing masks. They are always busy sending and receiving masks.
In Hong Kong, dining out is limited to a maximum of four, but here on the other side of the world, nothing is open anymore, and going to restaurants has become a distant memory…
I bought a navy blue velvet skirt from my local Marks and Spencer before the lockdown. I wore it for my online reading the other day.
Suppose the lockdown hasn’t happened yet. Suppose it will happen tomorrow.
Jennifer Wong is the author of 回家 Letters Home (Nine Arches Press, 2020) and the pamphlet Diary of a Miu Miu Salesgirl (Bitter Melon, 2019).