Kind Conditions for Stephanie Over & over this image in my dreams: an axe slices thru the air I’m belly down my lips the color of cherries dazzling snowflakes decorate my eye lashes still I can see the axe fall onto powdery glistening snow hitch its metal arc in frozen dirt I’m warm covered in fur-trimmed puffy coat I’m safe sticking out my tongue to catch the kind of snow that comes down only in certain parts of the world under the just right conditions & finally today I woke & wondered: who would we be if we had the just right conditions? Hold her up the baby likes to take in the world from your shoulder Moondrop grapes are her favorite Keep the door cracked at night he’s still a wee bit afraid of the dark aren’t we all
Elementary Graduation My white mother’s hissing in my ear, pinching my arm. Around me: tight-lipped women. I learned their rules eventually, surely & sorely. Digging thru old photos shows me I was a little girl like any other, really. How funny the teachers found this loud-mouthed dark-haired child w/ the weird name. I craved approval, the smiling nods so freely given to mediocrity, & at best doled out in teaspoons to the likes of me. I wonder now how a world that welcomed me would look— one w/o such class room violence. If I’m foreign, what are they? Limited. See me now: I’m scraping assimilated normalization from my mind, scrubbing those chalk boards squeaky clean. I architect my universe, invite in the precious beings I aim to protect. I’m tapping my acrylics, I’m out of patience for the bland teeth of American veneer. It’s girls like me for whom I lift my arm to wave, to welcome, to say: Beautiful ones, come closer. Don’t be a stranger.
Sarah E. Azizi (aka Sera Miles) is a queer Iranian-American writer, educator, and activist. Previous and forthcoming publications include: $pread Magazine, 34th Parallel, Blue Mesa Review, Fahmidan Journal, Clean Sheets, red, The Tide Rises, HELD, Wrongdoing Magazine, the winnow, Superpresent, Nine Mile, and Free State Review. She lives in Albuquerque.
Guest Editor Hyejung Kook’s poems have appeared in POETRY Magazine, Denver Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Pleiades, and elsewhere. Other works include an essay in Critical Flame and a chamber opera libretto. Born in Seoul, Korea, she now lives in Kansas with her husband and their two children. Learn more at her website.