JUST AN OTHER
i know the color spectrum is not the same as the “colored spectrum”
i know that my skin is a mixture of colors with no apparent connection
i know that the race of my dad is different than that of my mother
i know that i will always just be put into the category of “other”
because my white paint is a full half of a whole picture
because that comes with a pass and a higher mindset fixture
because it’s a white wave in and out of me washing all of who i am
because i’m not embracing anything underneath, it’s just a nice tan
none of my family looks like me
none of my friends look like me
none of the few “like me” look like me
none of me knows what it’s like being like me
it’s that everyone has hints of me, but what’s the full hue
it’s a mystery i can’t solve because i’m the unsolved clue
it’s a rainbow of colors, what paint do i pick
it’s a mess splattered everywhere, but the colors won’t stick
what box to check when u can’t check all
what affinity to join when u can’t join all
what place do u belong when you don’t belong in any
what race to identify with when you are so many
the one i’m “raised like”
the one i “act like”
the one who’s privilege i reap
the one who’s label i keep
we’re obsessed in a race-focused world trying to fit in a preset mold
we’re obsessed with the stagnant stereotypes that have rotted and grown old
we’re obsessed with forging our bonds with similar entities
i’m obsessed with simply finding out my own personal identity
Natalie Roots-Nowakowski is a tri-racial, 15-year-old, from Washington DC. She enjoys competitive speech and debate on a national level and researches political theory and adds to her own blog that comments on the ethical implications of current events, in her free time. This piece, entitled "Just An Other", is about the complicated, yet underrated, issues that come along with being mixed race in this day and age. It tackles issues such as passing, othering, and assimilation.
& TORTOISE AND HARE
My daughter’s spring trip to Saint Augustine coincides
with the beaching of a shipwreck. Hull into husk, risen
with its saints. French, maybe Spanish, 48 feet long.
As she touched it, the wreck became real. Seminal.
Water-logged frame, ganglion web, sea ballads,
accompanies the shadow dance practiced in a sail:
figureheads lunging into gales, mariners lashed to wheels;
charting by constellations, infrequent lamberts ashore.
Brine-stained and abraded, storm’s ravage conceded,
my daughter desires to scale the frame,
the spine, but yellow-tape cordons each barnacle.
Racked along ocean’s edge, she ambles and recalls
how his mutiny capsized her heart.
As a grounded meteor now: flares of love
perceived as hollow, coalescence of a sorrow.
In submission to squall’s indifference, hazel-brown
members glow, supplications witnessed before dunes.
A young woman ponders
how anything can be
more than itself, what portents swirl before her bow.
Sailors warn, in mist, any major can become minor;
crab or scorpion blend; archer slay the ram.
A galleon’s ribs, a whaler’s deck; merchant’s mast
or pirates pillage, this grounded phantasm churned
and thudded into Atlantic sand. She strolls with the crew,
marooned with carols and cargoes of old world love,
for appetites more intense than taste.
Huzzahs and Hymns from below.
Tortoise & Hare
Relativity. Still a struggle
between there is and cannot be.
As we ascend, we are still down.
Trekking East, still West.
Pristine teeters the sliver
between palatable and unsuitable.
Melding an obstinate crease,
I wander a map’s expanse:
index of meridians and medians,
grass and wheat, estuary and ocean,
not yet sand or salt. Oak and ash,
our bedroom sash crissed by clouds,
pane crossed by branches exposé:
hairline fractures, innocent indifference,
under assault, not in-vitro or in-vivo.
My rude ways and contrived
politeness shade any dateline.
Healed but jaded, amid lurking
threads of distress, your shadow sparkles
darkness long before light. Chelonian
or leporine? Reasonable wit
can choose both, and mid-moment
run harder, unbound,
still amid the sprint.
Sam Barbee's poems have appeared Poetry South, The NC Literary Review, Crucible, Asheville Poetry Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina, Georgia Journal, Kakalak, and Pembroke Magazine, among others; plus on-line journals Vox Poetica, Sky Island Journal, Courtland Review and The New Verse News. His second poetry collection, That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), was a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016. He was awarded an "Emerging Artist's Grant" from the Winston-Salem Arts Council to publish his first collection Changes of Venue (Mount Olive Press); has been a featured poet on the North Carolina Public Radio Station WFDD; received the 59th Poet Laureate Award from the North Carolina Poetry Society for his poem "The Blood Watch"; and is a Pushcart nominee.
男孩 (boy) pov i
Quiet emptiness surrounds the island.
My hand lifts to touch the barrack walls,
Only to be greeted with the
s m o o t h,
c h i l l i n g s u r f a c e.
Prevented, detained from entering the
so-called land of freedom.
Based on my race and origin, something I
Interrogation and questioning claim its
Days, months, possibly years of this have
yet to determine my happiness.
Fear, no, terror becomes my daily alarm.
So many questions, my lips are moving
Baffling inquiries about my family history;
have I become a slave to these people?
When can my lips purse into a smile?
Next to me, another boy similar in age, has
his body bent down low.
My hesitant fingers waver, but I slowly tap
Just like a giant rising from its slumber, his
eyes lift, vacant of every different
“Are you all right?” I question.
The boy studies my face for a moment.
“How long until what?” I ask.
“Until I die,” he responds, his pale moonlit
fingers grazing against the carved
My mouth makes an opening, but only false
aspirations dance on my lips.
Instead, I reply, “We’re not there yet.”
Despairing eyes greet my reply as the giant
sinks back into a deep sleep.
The barrack walls became my friend,
their lifeless and motionless veneer keeps
me somewhat sane.
They became clothed with my language,
pleading escape from isolation.
I raspily whisper to myself, “Please, if
there’s anyone out there, wake me up from
this nightmare. Please.”
The exhale of my low breathing answers
My time outside the confinement is limited.
Consumption of food becomes nonexistent.
I became a criminal with no charges.
Nights have passed,
Allusions have filled the space where my
dreams should be.
母亲 (mother) pov ii
I take my baby daughter’s tiny hand in mine.
The lines on her hand bear so much hope;
Her life and fate line, half the size of mine,
is very distinct.
A very tricky thing fate is,
Ironic almost, how the promise of a new
start was tacitly assured.
Assumptions never taught, but habitually
My baby daughter starts to cry.
I gently pat her back, in hopes that she
sensed my reassurance.
Yet her tears continue to create a river of
Just like her, I am petrified.
One step on this foreign land is already a
Accomplishments are worth nothing in an
My oldest daughter turns to me.
“Mommy, when are we going back home?”
I tenderly stroke her rosy cheeks.
“This is home now, we’re almost there.
My daughter scans the area around her. “But
this doesn’t look like anything back in
A weak smile trembles on my face. “Don’t
worry, it’s just... a bit different here, that’s
My hand touches the top of her head, and
she remains still.
I look at the other women seated across from
Clothes and our very own faces defining us.
Our faces, bodies, and even our children
were the very things that we held onto.
I became intimidated by the officer's mouth
while they questioned me.
A c a p t i v e is what they call me here.
A woman is what they call me back home.
Sophia Lee is a rising high school senior from California. She is committed to educate and show the diverse topics occurring in the world through various mediums. She loves to write and read, both for leisure and educational purposes. Quiet Fear is about the detaining of Chinese immigrants at Angel Island and the devastating conditions in 1940. The first POV shows the perspective of a young boy while the second POV shows the perspective of a mother. It shows the two spectrums and the different effects the detaining has on them.
& SOUTH COMMON
The day you left I woke up late for work and rushed
To get the tram from Birley to town
I made it onto the platform and as I sat
I saw an old couple hand in hand and I smiled
Thinking of you and nana
And that I would call later on
I still had time, right?
But as it turned out I got the call first
And my life changed as I knew it
Suddenly everyone was there
Where you wanted them to be
Ironic that the thing you wanted most
Only came when it was too late
I thought I had time.
The field was ablaze with the radiant shades of green lit up by the light of the morning sky
The golden heat of the sun beat down on the back of my neck
As my senses were awoken to the wonderous sight surrounding me
The breeze in the air eased the prickle of heat trailing down my spine
As I took in a deep breath of crisp fresh air into my lungs
A cluster of blackbirds chased each other along the pull of the wind above me
And a string of horses galloped up a steep hill looking onto the ancient city below
The delicate yellow of the buttercups shimmered against the ground of their bed
My eyes fell upon the sight of a blossoming Hawthorn tree standing proud
Next to it a dying tree dried up in the harsh heat, a beaten path in the middle of them
For the first time in a while I smiled to myself as I made my way along the path to go home.
Libby Taylor is a 19-year-old poet and aspiring author from the north of England, UK. She has just completed her second year of studying English and Creative Writing at the University of Lincoln. She works as a Non-Fiction Editor for her university’s literary journal, and she also works as a News Journalist for her university’s student newspaper. She has been published in Vaughan Street Doubles, Pendemic, Yellow Paint Magazine, and her poem based on the Covid-19 pandemic will be archived in The University College Library, Dublin.
& ANY OTHER WAY
flying the way I was meant to be
wind under my wings
taking me far
from this town
from this life
into another one
that will be
Any Other Way
Uncertain as to the direction
of my thoughts
I scream for something to
a scent to pick up
something to ease the
this isn’t where I want to
except it’s the only place
I want to go
I’m just scared
I’m so afraid of love
and wouldn’t have it
any other way
Arianna Sebo (she/her) is a queer poet and writer living in Southern Alberta with her husband, pug, and five cats. Her poetry can be found in The Writer's Club at Grey Thoughts, Kissing Dynamite, Front Porch Review, and Lucky Jefferson. Follow her at AriannaSebo.com and @AriannaSebo on Twitter and Instagram.
Air groans from your car’s futile
heater. Odd little lights blink
on the dash. You hope to be
safe in cutthroat wind, safe
on ice though roads grow slick.
Quick spinout, glassy darkness—
you slew in the wrong direction
and see that disaster drops
from anywhere, heavy tool kicked
under a rail as a worker strips
a building, the man himself killed
when he falls from the pin oak
he prunes. Scarves wrapped over
faces, hands in each other’s hands,
people plunge through the storm.
Yellow barricade tape closes
your accident site; beacons pulse,
sirens, vantage lights, strobes.
When you get home, you wash
yourself as if there are bloodstains.
Hot water heartens, cleanses,
the door closed behind you.
The heavy door. Ask the dead
about safety. They always say
risk it, hold out your hand.
Barbara Daniels’ Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.