Spring 2021 Issue
EXEMPLARY WORKS FROM CREATIVE YOUNG WRITERS
dear america: eight eulogies.
one. this is a eulogy for the american dream that
our parents came to this country for—but this is not
the dream we were looking for, so please let
us wake up.
two. this is a eulogy for all of the languages that we no longer speak in public
and the languages that some of us no longer remember how to speak
even at home.
three. this is a eulogy for the day in middle-school history class when
we begin to learn about asia and our teacher asks the class what
we know already. my hand is in the air but another boy says,
the happier asians get, the less they can see, and
i am wearing the same confused
look as everyone else in the room before he
explains that the more asians smile, the smaller our
eyes get. i am barely old enough to understand
but my hand that is in the air flies down
instinctively to my face, and do my eyes really look
like that, and why is the teacher smiling, and i don’t
think my eyes get smaller the more that i smile, but my
smile is getting smaller, and all my words have died
in my throat.
four. this is a eulogy for the day at the dentist’s office when my
mother and i sit near the front desk in the waiting room. another
man comes in, his gaze passing over us icier than the water that
the dentist uses, and the receptionist asks him if he has been
exposed to anyone tested positive recently. without missing
a beat he laughs and says, no, of course not, we haven’t even
ordered any chinese takeout, and now i am more
than old enough to truly understand, and my blood runs
cold, and suddenly i feel like more than my teeth need
to be cleaned.
five. this is a eulogy for the food we eat at home that we have
stopped bringing to school; no, it’s not because
anyone said anything at lunch (yes it is), i just don’t want to
pack my lunch anymore (yes i do), i promise it’s fine (no it’s
not, no it’s not, no it’s not), i swear it’s fine, it’s fine.
it’s always fine.
six. this is a eulogy for one two three four five six seven
eight nine ten eleven days ago when one two three four
five six seven eight lives were lost because one person was having
one bad day.
seven. this is a eulogy for delaina ashley yaun, who was a wife.
for suncha kim, who was a grandmother.
for paul andre michels, who was a brother.
for daoyou feng, who was a friend.
for hyun jung grant, who was a mother.
for soon chung park, who was a mother.
for yong ae yue, who was a mother.
for xiaojie tan, who was a mother.
for all of them, because they were americans,
but they were not afforded the privilege of liberty and
justice for all.
eight. this is a eulogy for all of the americans that i pledge
allegiance to the flag wasn’t enough for. this is for all of us who
still say i pledge allegiance to the flag, for all of our friends and mothers
and wives and brothers and grandmothers, for our food and our eyes
and our smiles and our words. this is a eulogy for all of us who
still dare to dream, because dear america—we deserve your
fifty stars too.
Self Portrait of Worldly Elements
My face is upon the Caspian Sea
They call it turquoise blue waters
But my eyes reflect only churning black ink
On the boat's steel underbelly
My face is upon the deep end of the pool
Desired drowning comes to mind
A strange struggle against time
At the bottom, you could finally breath
No one asks me to come up for air
My face is upon the dense 11 P.M. sky
My vision embedded in the space between the stars
Eyes wide as trepidation
My face is upon the raindrops of Hurricane XYZ
We fall incessantly
Here and There and Here
They will call me a natural disaster
I am not sorry
My face is upon the lavender plants in Toulon
Frenchmen walk through me
Pick me, please!
They leave me
Leave footprints and breadcrumbs and the rapidly reducing scene of sage and sorrow
They leave me
They have left
Nymphs and Trees
She walks up to the oak tree, the one in the backyard of her suburban house in Georgia, and sits down in its shade. Or at least, where the tree’s shade would have been if it gave off any. This tree, instead, while having plentiful leaves and branches for the leaves to grow on, gave no cool relief from the sun's heat on any day of the year. So, she stands up and walks in a great big circle, her eyes furiously scanning the earth ground for any dark patches, and ends right back where she started, with nothing to show for it. She, in a slight slip of wit and the loss of knowledge that tree, in fact, cannot talk, yells, “Why don't you give me any shade? Are you not a tree? Who is in charge here?” In response, a voice, quiet and feminine, whispers, “Nymphs”
What even are Nymphs?
She wonders this exact statement, in her own mind of course, where objects of wonder often dwell. This is why her heart skips when the voice whispers again, “Nymphs are us, and we are nymphs.” To this, she does not know what to do or how to respond. This was a very peculiar situation, one that most people, or more likely, no people, had ever experienced before. She decides that she could not, would not, have a chat with these so-called “nymphs” without gaining more information on who exactly she was chatting with. This is why she, again, speaking to a tree, calls out, “Well, could you give me some more context, or erm, information. Please?” At first, nothing happens. In fact, for exactly 7 minutes, absolutely nothing happens. Why she stayed there and waited, she would never know. But she did. After 7 minutes, a small puff of wind carries her up, up, up. She lands on what seems like a soft head of broccoli. However, using her common sense, she comes to the conclusion that she was now on top of the oak tree. “This is not exactly the kind of information that I was asking for,” she said. The voice comes again and says, breathlessly, “I recall that you asked who was in charge of this very oak tree, and while we are not in charge, we are responsible for it. When we say ‘we’ we mean us. We are nymphs, there are 7 of us to be exact, and we control the leaves, branches, bark, shade-.” “I am sorry, but I just want to know where the shade has gone? I came to this very tree to sit in its shade, and yet there is no shade to be found?” she interrupts. Another 7 minutes go by, during which she stays seated on the tree until ‘they’ appear. ‘They’ meaning the 7 nymphs mentioned previously. After examining the creatures that had just appeared in front of her, she thinks to herself, “Oh, so they are basically fairies without wings.” At the same time, all of the nymphs scrunch up their perfect faces. They whisper in perfect harmony, “We are not fairies, for we are responsible for every bit of the nature you see around you, including this very tree you are sitting on. It is a very nice tree, is it not?” To this, she responds flatly that it would be a very nice tree if it gave of shade, seemingly not knowing that this could be perceived as a very rude thing to say. However, the nymphs, being understanding of the young age of the child, respond with a hushed, “This tree will never have shade, as we do not think it should.” She
thought about this for a while, and even though this was an answer, it was one that she was not content with. This is why she then told the nymphs that she was not satisfied with the explanation that she was given and that she would like another one. Ever patient, the nymphs decide without speaking that they would explain to the young girl, even though it would not do any good. “A long time ago, when this tree was just a sapling, it did, in fact, give off a small amount of shade, and it continued to give off shade as it grew larger and larger. People flocked to this tree to bask in its cool relief, which was alright, until it started to attract people of an aggressive manner. These people who decided to come to the tree started to take up the act of carving their initials into the tree’s magnificent coffee-colored bark! They may not have understood, but they were slowly killing the tree; leaching the life out of it. We asked them calmly to stop many times, each time they came back with more knives to carve. Not only did they come, but they came laughing. Laughing! So, we had no other choice but to take away what they came to the tree: the shade. So this, my dear, is why there is no shade. I know that this may not make sense to you right now, but it will one day.” With that, the same gush of wind gently sat her back down on the shadeless ground. She walks home, confused and unhappy with the nymphs. Even now, being one day older, she still does not understand. “Oh,” she sighs, “Nymphs and their trees.”
Trepidation climbs up the ladder
She is dark and wispy, a black dahlia
Hades' cape stifled from the absence of air in the underworld
She is here now
She does not knock
Marshmallows and other gooey matters
Roasting marshmallows near the campfire with my friends is one of the best memories I have. We’d gather around the campfire, all of us sitting as close as possible to the dancing fire, hoping to receive its warmth. We’d all bring our own foldable chairs- mine was the pink one with “princess” vibes written all over it- it probably doesn’t matter, though. Roasting marshmallows is something that can never grow old. But I was mistaken. My friends and I would start our little “roasting” ritual by playing outside. We’d play tag, hide and seek, you name it. We’d wait til the sun went down, and on typical fall evenings we’d jump into piles of leaves until darkness struck. I was six then. We’d start off by bringing our blankets- rather thin, yet sufficient enough to keep us from shivering. My first time was an experience that was awe-filled. I’d only seen it in the movies- the fire and danger within. But here- right in front of me- was fire, singing its own tune, dancing wherever it pleased- but remaining within its circular boundaries. It wasn’t destruction, it seemed to have life inside of it as well. We'd all hold our sticks up, as if to give a toast, and then put them into the fire so that the flames could work their magic. It was truly one of those small moments that made me happy in my life. There is nothing better than the feel of gooey molten marshmallows on the tip of your tongue. Nothing that can beat marshmallows- roasted or not. But I haven’t felt the gooey taste of the marshmallow in years. Perhaps it could be the fact that my duty requires hours and hours of studying, leaving the social life and breaks to a minimum. It’s so funny how many take childhood for granted. Adulthood is harder than ever, and more than ever, I want to go back, perhaps to a time where I’d still be more prepared for life’s hardships and struggles and perhaps roast a marshmallow or two. Maybe, someday, I’ll be able to roast marshmallows again with friends. I don’t regret my decision to come to this school, though- medical school’s a dream I had since childhood. But give or take, there’s things that must be given up for the sake of /dreams/. Like Marshmallows with friends My friends are in different places in the world at the moment.The other is working day and night. And here I am, trying not to cripple from the /overwhelming/ stress of Medical School. My friends text occasionally, but it isn’t the same. Things have changed since then- some days our conversation goes as far as “what’s up” and that’s the only text they send back. Or worse, they leave me on seen. They’re completely different people now. Which means I won’t get back the days that I spent with them. They have their own problems and things to worry about anyways. They can say /we’re meeting up/ for all I care, but even if it was the case- I know it wouldn’t happen. They’ve already made new friends- and to them- I’m just an old memory. Occasionally, I wonder how things would be if I could go back in time and tell myself - /cherish your memories, because life just gets harder from here out/. It’s one of my regrets- it’s not a sin to be a child- something I should’ve realized all those years ago when I wanted nothing but to grow up quick. I will never forget marshmallow roasting. I guess it’s a memory- though in its own respect short, it is something of value. There hasn’t been a single night that I have not thought about roasting marshmallows. Sometimes, I’m convinced that I can hear the crackle of the fire. Each tire-filled day, I long for the fire that kept my friends and I warm for all those years. But I know those days are best kept in the past, for I do not know when- or if I'll ever meet up with my closest friends and recreate those memories together.
A Collection of Poems
You lit me and I burned
I tricked down and poured out my love for you
An endless stream of harmony rushing over me
You taught me how to stay well-lit and fearfully warm for us
(But really for you)
How many stir-crazy nights would it have been before I realized?
How unsure the reaction
Excuse me, radiation
How much dripping venom you were pouring into my jungle all along?
Now how am I to stay lit for me to continue to nourish
To replant and reinvent my seeds of wonder
The water seems to have run dry but yet I am scratching for more
How do I learn to unfeel the touch of your skin running through my hair
To learn to love another person's flame as much as I desperately did yours
Won’t you come back and make me lose myself once again in your venom to forget, to numb
You had me in velvet skies on midnight nights
Embraced by the abisque of the moon
Brown sugar sweetness tingled off your tongue
As you spoke, the bittersweet liquid bubbled up in my eyes
We knew our time was coming to a close
But who could blame us for savoring the crybaby blue moment
Although, the fury inside of me from all of the things that had gone left unsaid
I couldn’t help but to erase the red I was seeing
To remember the last moment sweetly and tenderly
Left with Periwinkle, the shade between the blues and reds
Lighter in this moment, and in this very moment admiring our shade of Blue and
You placed your hand upon
The sacred book and all of a sudden
The hammer was lifted off
You looked out unto the mall
The rays had risen upon us
From the sunshine state of California
To the concrete jungle that is New York
We were granted another chance
To prove ourselves worthy
Of wheeling this wonderous nation
We once worried would falter
Festering fury fueling the fire of prisoner
Of politics playing the part
Parting away from promising
But rather disconnection and dishonesty
Burn, Burn, Burn
You start speaking your soliloquy
For your nonapparent spectators
Your own message dripped with indecision
One Nation Under God
One Nation Under One
We drive past the Elementary school. Impossible to miss,
Playgrounds and swings,
Blacktop and basketball courts.
Life was so simple back then.
I didn’t worry about
I didn’t need to know how to
Pluck my eyebrows,
Shave my legs,
Move from class to
When being yourself was
More recently I wish for those times for other
Social distancing, Or online
Who was I
Just two years ago?
What would I be like,
If this pandemic never happened? Would the weight on my heart be lighter than it is
All these thoughts fly through my head as
We drive past the Elementary school.
I ask her to come with me to the Moon
I search her eyes for an answer
She tells me she cannot
For she is a dancer
And up there, gravity does not dwell
So I go alone
I go alone to the Moon