praise poem

By Anya Quesnel

praise the patience of co-poets piloting through this falling sky of deadlines and banklines and grief
praise the space they hold when
when the only poem i have to oer is to notice a small crack in the sidewalk and a ower growing out


praise every hand casting art into an ocean of question marks, being unafraid to reel in more questions

praise to mentors who agree that some waters are unnavigable, some pain unmendable,
who do not oer balm but a place to sit and cry


bless big sibling love
bless being born by the same strained love that we might talk about it and make dierent mistakes

bless the love that blues me
bless the love that is holding a door, sharing a song


praise to the biggest small blessings
how we make alters out of each other and give ourselves god and breakfast

bless the rugs we make into dance clubs
and the books we see ourselves in


somehow, praise the windstorm
that lay down the blue spruce whose roots aren’t supposed to root here

like so many of us aren’t supposed to root here
yet, praise this prairie cut up by highway and hotel
praise the spirits concrete can’t kill


and yes, bless the squirrels

because they make z smile

Body canvas*

By rui zhou

after Wafaa Bilal & Ronak Kapadia


In the body, where everything is out

of place. i want a map tattooed on my back

There should be a map key of tea pots and sim cards &

when a Muslim auntie pours lemon ginger for a sister in Mazar-e-Sharif or a Uyghur uncle calls

his mother in Kashgar: how are you &

your tomatoes and apricots. That’s when i globe around my shoulders & find my people


i want a map on my back & if they come for you i can’t turn my back even

if they don’t come for me yet even

if mama spits shells of sunflower seeds & squints

what the fuck are you crying for even

if study suggests china isn’t syria & even

if my body domesticates disasters by holding hostage another country’s rivers


This map can’t be made by the cia calculating

billions into cold mines & coming out hot blooded monsoons

This map can’t be body counts & body cams

This map can’t be minced by hellfire missiles

This map can’t be plotted by gps or grief or grenade

This map can’t be about brown pain or cause brown people pain. Nobody


can hold this map upside down like columbus sucking the marrow out of my peoples’ land—

gold or coal or petrol—without choking on my ribs cus i swallow pipelines too

Nobody destroys high-value targets to save my grandmas & cousins & nephews

No one shoots a terrorist, no, not even in video games & when i stitch my people onto my torso

No one wipes you out with a drone-soap, oops, system error: one million corpses

No one is stopped-and-frisked. No shrapnels in my lovers. In the spine


i want the map guide me to grandma’s lullabies: lavender field in bomb bunker where we

silent dance party all night to songs swollen in your stomach

i want the map a recipe: cinnamon, coriander, cloves, cumin, curry leaf—my people

slice onions, tomatoes, chili peppers & sauté & simmer in my pelvis—my people

slow stew protection spells in apricot preserve & when you disappear I save you

jars unopened for your return


In the body, where everything is out

of place. i want a map tattooed on my back where patrols are orange peels—my people

in one piece, spiral indefinite extension from Sheikh Jarrah to Altishahr to Guantánamo &

When mama sweeps sunflower seeds shells & asks

So what the fuck are you crying for, i turn my back & show her—my people

are everywhere even we always miss each other


Mama, i am part citrus, part cyborg & i offer hands full of jam

by which i mean sticky prayers spread thickly across my back


Stay safe. Take care.





*Written against the “global war on terror” & in solidarity with the peoples affected by the forever wars. For a full statement of meaning, see



  1. This is a love poem & small prayer for the peoples affected by the ongoing “war on terror” in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, China, in diaspora and beyond. As someone from China and someone not racialized as a “terrorist” body by the forever wars, I want to reclaim “my people” in multiplicity and solidarity, and speak against both US and Chinese imperialist-nationalist definitions of “the people” vis-a-viz “the terrorist”. It is an attempt in homage to & in conversation with the Iraqi American artist Wafaa Bilal’s 2010 performance … and Counting and the scholar Ronak Kapadia’s essay about Bilal’s work. In a 24-hour live performance, Bilal’s back was tattooed with a borderless map of Iraq covered with one dot for each Iraqi and American casualty near the cities where they fell.

2.  This is also inspired by poems of love: in particular, Fatimah Asghar’s If They Should Come for Us, Danez Smith’s Dinosaurs in the Hood, and Solmaz Sharif’s Reaching Guantánamo.

Body Silence

By Mahnoor Rehman

Every day I come back home to silence

Parts of my body shaking but there is no voice

Silent screams through my nerves

I feed myself – to feel no strength

Another day of being weak.


Heart warmed through

the artificially lit heater on my bedside.

Not cooked and crumbled in Ammi’s voice

Separate parts splitting inside me


Bitter coffee-flavored skin to look at

To suck at

Elevated heartbeat, deepening brown under my eyes

Thick hair dryness, soil in tears


Movements you say? I wish I could be elongated.

Wish calmness would possess me one day

Wish vulnerability would be vulnerable.

To You Written by Mekael Daniel FGS’20

Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 8.33.31 AM

What happens when you build a relation-ship that is destined to sink before it floats?
What happens when you surround yourself with mental moats?
This story is a story of a small boat
housing two people
that have no

To You, is a mini poetic play. More importantly, it is a black queer love story.
Written and Directed by Mekael Daniel
Starring Eden Alemayehu and LaNiah Moon




(Q and B are on opposite sides of the stage. They look unsettled. Both are carrying string (or rope). Q starts making her way to center front stage, leaving a trail of string behind her, but stops a quarter of the way there)


To You, Q,

You who caught my string.

You who is contained on this machine

Our relationship only lasted two gigabytes

By that, I mean our relationship is held on a screen

(Holds up phone)

The pictures and videos only barely capture your sheen,

Your smile…

(Looks at screen sentimentally)

I wish I could’ve been with you a while


On that,

I ponder,

These truths I seek

But no words can I speak

(Puts away phone)(starts walking to Q with string in hand. When they intersect, they walk in a semicircle around one another (Interlocking the string) and walk about talking distance away from one another) 

To you who left me weak


You who caught my string.

You who helped me sing.

When I first saw her, I melted


To say that her eyes contained the sky would be a lie

Her Beautiful, Beautiful darkness belied

Infinite universes

Which birthed these words

That asked her to do these verbs

With a certain nerd


(Turn to Q)

I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying, I’d like to chill sometime

And I’m not tryna pressure you

Just can’t stop thinkin bout you

You ain’t even really have to be my girlfriend

I just wanna know your name;


We can hook up,

We can hang out,

We can just… chill…


Oh you’re a direct one.


I’m Q, rhymes with few


Q-could be my boo?


Not with that rhyme. I know you spittin lines but I don’t even know your name, foine.


I’m B, but, you can call me fine if you want.


I’ll let you know off top that my name rhymes with few cause few women impress me


Then why are you still standing next to me?


Pshhh be quiet fool.

(Awkward Pause)

But I guess that’s true, I dig you


You into me, I’m into you, so what it do?


What you mean “What it do”? what do you do?


I’m a drifter

A trickster

Sentimental hipster

And a Skipper

With a lil bit of hopeless romantic on the side


Do you like have any hobbies or…


I told you. I’m a part-time Skipper


Like skipping hopscotch?


No, Its hard to describe…

Imagine this.

The metronome of metal on wood

The sound of

Wind in your ears

Wind in your hair

Wind in our sails


Lines rope around metal

Connecting two entities

An invisible line connecting you to me

As we rock rhythmically

Waves ever so gent-l-y (enjambment)

Dizzying me

Soft noises of sea foam fizzling


(Interrupting excitedly)

I’m assuming I’m on a boat?


Yes. A sailboat. Wanna try out your sea legs sometime?


How can I say no?

(At marina)



These ropes and sticks are kind of beautiful lookin


We call these ropes, lines


That’s oddly artsy

Lines, movement, motion


Is it oddly artsy or is art just oddly packed full of sailing references?


… Both?




(Looking around)

I mean, why not?

All these lines, and yet we both have such little time


Little time?


This city aint mine

I gotta go home soon

So… Yeah, little time


So what does that mean?


(Picking up string)

You caught my string.

It means,

sometimes I find life ties with others

Making my lifeline composed of intricately twined timelines


There’s a lot of timelines in this universe,

We are all travelers, honey


(Bursts out)

Yeah, but I don’t come from money

Does that wanna make you call me honey?

(Hesitate, vaguely gestures towards strings)

If we keep up this dance

Our lines will form patterns

That you can’t un-weave


Now that, I don’t believe.

So what if you don’t come from money

This is just little thing,

Just a little fling!

Don’t you want no expectations between us,

No future dreams?


Considering…. Considering…


Here’s the thing

You leave soon, its either that or we end it


… I still wanna send it

B Laughs and embraces Q



Did you just say ‘send it’?

Q is such a qtpie!

Can you be more cheesy?


Can you be more dreamy?


Gurl, stop!

But this is fun, I guess…


And what’s wrong with a little fun?


Whats wrong with a lil fun?

To romance art thou numb?

What if I fall for you?


Isn’t it true that you’re only here for a few?

I don’t think love after three weeks is love so true


Infatuation maybe


Yes! But aren’t these moments fun?


I guess on the ocean is a wonderful way to meet

Under the summer sun

Exhausting our infatuation in the heat

The golden hour begins


See, I love this.

This vibe is so mellow

Swinging on the ocean

while the sun hangs low

and becomes an orange moon


Your eyes reflect her light

and illuminate the gloom

that was here before me and you

between these two entities,

the flowers of companionship bloom


How cute

It’s getting late, we should head back, but I’ll see you later?


Yes! Tomorrow, maybe?


Tomorrow it is.


A little kiss, maybe?


Yes, and thank you for asking

Lights fade out before they kiss. A stunted silence follows. A light focuses on B, staring pensively at their phone



These minutes eventually turn to hours, into days

Lost in your gaze

This glittery haze

Together we sway,

My tongue yearning for your sweet

And, entangled, we say not a peep

Our hearts beat, tongues bend and twist

Without you there’s this abyss

This nighttime loneliness

And lately

I keep telling myself it’s a temporary phase

That these feelings change

But if I’m being honest

I’m trying not to fall for you

In the middle of the night resist calling you

Stalling our inevitable blues

Nighttime loneliness

This inevitable abyss

The loneliness of nights without you

A second light focuses on Q


The loneliness of nights without you

B turns to tie random sections of the string together 


A second light focuses on Q as she talks


My loneliness when resisting calling you

Why do I resist calling you?

You’ve taught me the ocean blue

Your incredible hues

How to sing the blues

To sing of moons, mountains, and you

So why do I resist calling you?

Or is it resisting falling for you?

Our lifelines are already tangled too

And, these last few days with you are a hallowed few

But, I gotta think of myself, boo.

You don’t want me to love you

So why should I?


Lately I been hearing symphonies,

Having epiphanies,

that love is from within me

So I don’t need your love, B

I don’t need you to call me

Don’t want you to fall for me

B, Finished with the string, watches Q finish her speech solemnly. Q goes and starts attempting to untie the strings



These last few days area hallowed few,

I truly want to spend them with you

But I’d rather not fall for you, see

Its stressful wondering if I should call you

And when you leave, we’ll only have screens to communicate

Long distance won’t work for me

Our tangled lives will rush by

But, I still I want to see you again, please.

Q: Still by the strings

See, recently I’ve been meditating on us, trying to contemplate

I’ve said what I said, but I’ll try to elaborate

I have to put myself first, or else I lay prostrate

To these demons out here tryna tell me my place

Tryna take up and restrict my space

So I’m standing strong

With all my facets

And If you don’t want me to be with you now

I don’t want to see you in the future.

I still care about you

And I’ll still remember your hues

Remember those ocean sunsets with you…


Going to strings

My future is uncertain

my hearts been hurtin

when I think of losing you

and ill be honest that I freeze when making decisions such as these

I like you, that’s for sure

But long distance still holds no allure

So I’ll make peace before

We go our ways

Before the concept of us gets lost in the haze


Before we start to loathe these absent-of-you days


So, is this goodbye?

Our final sigh

It feels wrong, but what feels right?


Tonight is our final night

Our final flight

Being with you has been a dreamy delight

But those saccharine dreams are over

This lil moment in life has been a four leaf clover

But clovers wilt and die

Go into the ground and turn to soil

Over you have I toiled

With you I’ve been spoiled

I’ve been learning

Experiencing your treatment

How you kiss my feet

You’ve raised my standards

Oh my god you’re so sweet

So I’ll say goodbye now,

Plant the seed of this lesson in ground

Watch as my future blessings compound

Due to this moment in history, profound


And I’ll watch you leave

And remember how sunlight weaves through your hair

Please turn your eyes to me,

I just want one more time to see your face so fair

Before we both get up out of here,

Before I watch the shore sway rhythmically away

Before the light fades

And cold creeps

I want to lay with you, to sway with you


Ok, just for this one moment, I’ll stay with you