Dorothy Chan’s Editor’s Note: A Triple Sonnet for Valentine’s Day

Dorothy Chan’s Editor’s Note: A Triple Sonnet for Valentine’s Day

            Table for ten at dim sum is my V-Day dream,
like when lovers & lobsters & lollipops are
            on the menu—Suck a little harder, and I’ll race
you to the center of the Tootsie Pop. Cherry.
            Good. Hard. Classic. Center, like the volta
of a poem blasted to the nth degree, or how
            we get the pop in poetry, become the moment—
I want to crescendo into your dreams, Honey,
            play you a little song—a sonnet—triple it,
like when Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth
            conducts an orchestra that becomes sunrise
and sunset, and you stop in the gallery, move
            a little closer to the strokes, feeling the white space
in between. At night, I dream of touch and the sound

you make as you yearn—it’s not about needing
           something, it’s about wanting everything, like sugar
and spice and sundaes sprinkled with gummy snakes
            and the whole damn dream sequence delivered to
your doorstep, right next to the bouquet of O’Keeffe
            and the Godiva Gold Collection. I dream about rivers,
abundant. Or what about the simulation game when
            your male lead says his apartment number is “214,
like Valentine’s Day,” and he thinks it’s poetry.
            But it’s not. No one dictates “romance” to you.
Rita and I used to devour sushi boats and sake
            cocktails, in our twenties, on this day, two Asian
femmes—this holiday of love. And there’s nothing,
            nothing we love more than the Hive, so this one’s

            for you, Honeys. Christina believes each issue
should be celebrated with an Aperitivo and brunch,
            and isn’t she such a dream, and don’t we eat with
our eyes, first. And who would ever say no to endless
            pleasure—bottomless pineapple mimosas, pastries
galore: chocolate ganache cake with raspberries on
            top, coconut cake snowballing its way through,
matcha cake with red bean filling serving orgasm,
            and every type of benedict and crepe in sight, and
pour some more bubbly, Honey, and it’s straight
            out of a movie set or TV show about excess from
the early 2000s, only we’re not leaving until we eat.
            Cheers to Lucky Number 3, Hive, and thank you for
all this love and light—every single yearning quenched.

Opener: “(sol)ace” by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon


A hummingbird hovers in air between droplets of rain, showers in a single stream. The storm—: a wholeness broken into—: sparkling strands, into globules cracked like clear casks over the bird’s jewel-toned crown—: splashes silver. Delight wings ] go little rockstar [ 40 beats per second—: not tiktok, but stillness. Suspense. A hummingbird breaks the day. Suspense sustains. Slow me, then—: in rarefaction. You moved into—: the rain between—: black and green, where lift resides. The life reorient—: dwelling where we come to—: singing, buzzing. (A crow knows what it knows.) We are made giddy—: delayed. A shared vibration holds us up. Black, greening—: every span of shade to determine—: the shape of the body, the body’s inclination—: the density of the air

folded like a note
passed between two huddled girls—:
laughter—: ruby-throats…

for e.

About Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon author photo

LYRAE VAN CLIEF-STEFANON is the author of Open Interval, a finalist for the National Book Award and the LA Times Book Prize, and Black Swan, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She is currently at work on The Coal Tar Colors, her third poetry collection, and Purchase, a collection of essays. She has been awarded fellowships from Cave Canem, the Lannan Foundation, and Civitella Ranieri. A member of The Cherry Arts collective, she has written lyrics and plays and her work has been featured at National Theatre London.

Poetry: “Qaemot for When Blood Says” by Rosebud Ben-Oni

Qaemot for When Blood Says 

— after A Boy and His Dog (1975)

Blood says: I’ll antihero my crew—    for {a taste of} your antihooves.

Blood says blood recognizes who
                 ‘s mild in morals. Misanthropic. Malanged.         
                              Says blood

                 –ious touch        makes you {a boon} that Last{ing}
                              Days             will value & no one can thieve
                                                           {from you}—

                                                                           Keeps you free from the organ



                               who chew last living things
                                             {but not you}—


                                                           Woof {Whistle}—                


                                                                                                         Those who do not fear you,

                                                                                           (& I’ll come through)

                                                                           even the E-flat night

-watchman who woos                   screamers  from blight,
               those radioluminescent boys-                     to-men fright
                               who light up                     all the tons of slop & junk

when the only landscape is desert &         punk
               stag films, when the whole damn underscene 
                               is a Midwest state freak of marching

bands striking up dis-ease: release another slayer
               from rustic & rotten lair. Blood says who cares
                               to wipe that damn smile

off his malware. Blood says: bloody hooves & I don’t take


                                           {to}—        we        inflame the greatest of civil

                              & shame.          All the distances one cannot
                              mar or grace.               Our strike is silent &

psychic.                   Telepathic. Two alphas
scudding unease. They’ll try to capture us

in drive-ins & on midnight
screens.             We’ll leave

them wishing for another
fallout breeze.            Now—


                                                         & Cramp

                                                                       & cease upon                                                           these
                                                                       wastelands, yet                 bonedry           & unpleased.

Covet: Ten marksmen for every demon. Deed: Doggy as deady, I rune twenty
              languages fluently— all at once, if need— including

                               {the bloody hooves}—    O Über-horse, with your
                                                        underhooves.    Speak no evil: if canines can

                                                           possess equus,         {then yes},         equus can obsess
                                                                               with heed,    every bunker & earthstuck steed—

                                                                                          & a chance, perhaps, to direct

all what they will see    ::              is me,                        

             {& you}, my






Author’s Note: A Qaemot is a sort of prayer for a Jewish exorcism. This is part of a new series on “exorcism poems” for the author.

About Rosebud Ben-Oni

Photograph of Rosebud Ben-Oni

Rosebud Ben-Oni is the winner of 2019 Alice James Award for If This Is the Age We End Discovery (2021), which received a Starred Review in Booklist, and the author of turn around, BRXGHT XYXS (Get Fresh Books, 2019). Her chapbook 20 Atomic Sonnets, which appears in Black Warrior Review (2020), is part of a larger future project called The Atomic Sonnets, which she began in 2019, in honor of the Periodic Table’s 150th Birthday. She has received fellowships and grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, City Artists Corps, CantoMundo and Queens Council on the Arts. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Poetry Society of America (PSA), The Poetry Review (UK), Tin House, Guernica, Electric Literature, among others. In 2017, her poem “Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark” was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC, and published by The Kenyon Review Online. Recently, her poem “Dancing with Kiko on the Moon” was featured in Tracy K. Smith’s The Slowdown.

Animals: Three Poems by Jessica Nirvana Ram

my heart is a slippery fish

fillet it / cut the cheeks out / & see / they’ll be tender / keep the blade close / to bone / clavicle to tail fin / pull clean through flesh / separate into slabs / to be swallowed / seasoned / skewered / skin crisped in skillet / body flaky & boneless / marinate the head & skeleton / for bouillabaisse / a thick stock / pick your teeth clean / with pin bones / see how many pieces / this heart is capable of / becoming / dismembered devotee / I promise / there is no waste here / if you catch me / you can use it all / every last scrap

Jellyfish Girl

Last night I woke up part jellyfish
tentacles wide & transparent,
head bulbous like a moon jelly.

I told you not to touch me. Swam
away from our bed until I was sea deep
in myself, floating among the blooms
of jellyfish watching them brush up
against each other, no harm no screams,
just soft touch, comfortable sparks.

I wondered if I’d ruined myself
by becoming this way, if your eyes
would always be rimmed with fear
& trepidation, with some need to trap me
in a bathtub or a tank, to keep me
at arms length—

did I, somewhere along the way,
become something pretty for you
to look at & never touch? When did you
stop trusting me? How exactly does a boy
love a jellyfish & how does a jellyfish
love a boy?

We both know you’ve never
been very good at swimming,
you never really liked the ocean either
& I cannot live in your cupped palms.
So tell me, my love, where do we go
from here?

When I am in Sixth Grade a Boy Calls Me Octopus Hair

The boy is small & faces me with sharpened teeth.
I could never name the look in his eyes but I could always

smell the bloodlust & that day, he spewed incantation
against the sea monster living on my head & this body

of mine awoke, tentacles sprouting from skin darting out
in defense of this small girl’s self. I watched as newfound limbs

reached out to suffocate him, pressing into the small boy’s flesh
until it puckered with suction cup red rings, until he screamed

& hissed & threatened me with those shark teeth of his, thrashing
about in my grip. I bare my own beak, burst through his paper

flesh, see my fury reflected in his fear soaked irises as he realizes
he is not the predator here. Maybe I should have warned him,

should have let him know that my kind happily devours his kind,
that even though I specialize in camouflage, or could easily offer up

a spare limb & make my escape, I am fucking tired of disappearing
when provoked, tired of folding into this small body, tired of sacrificing

pieces of myself as if to say all of me
isn’t worth fighting for.

About Jessica Nirvana Ram

Photographic portrait of Jessica Nirvana Ram

Jessica Nirvana Ram is an Indo-Guyanese MFA candidate at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. She is equal parts poet and essayist, while occasionally moonlighting as a fiction writer. Her work appears in Barrelhouse, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Memoir Mixtapes, and HAD with work forthcoming in The Hellebore Press. Jessica also recently attended the 2021 Tin House Summer Workshop. You can find her tweets about teaching, writing, and all other life things @jessnirvanapoet.

Poetry: “Heritage PoemTM” by Grace Song


Throw your stinky lunch box overboard.
Where are your standards? Only adolescent

fruits, ripe with angst, and vaguely identified fish
scaled and steamed are acceptable in a Heritage Poem™

Look at the new H-Mart catalogue: tangerines
and peaches, white jasmine rice, pork-stuffed baozis,

and fifteen-grain congee. If you faint around blood,
thankfully, you are a poet and not a surgeon.

Blood appears in controlled, concentrated images.
No one should be dead, though someone can get hurt,

not physically, just emotionally. If you use characters
instead of letters, everyone will go crazy.

You can choose which you prefer
because italicizing your language makes it different

very exotic, but eventually, the discomfort drops
its attitude and becomes complacency instead.

When the time comes for you to portray your family,
package them with a few more problems.

Only women appear in the Heritage Poem™,
and the mother is the most important.

Aunties, from oldest to youngest,
are ranked two to nine. Save the grandma
for special occasions, like a fancy dress.

Don’t forget to ask important questions:

Who ate the jade rabbit?

Is it okay to create an extended piano metaphor?

Please write the Heritage Poem™
in first person where you yearn for land
across the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Yearn for ancestors who don’t want to be woken up
by your tumor of emotions, the size of an identity crisis.

Yearn so hard, you want a tongue.

(The previous one quit because
the syllables became overwhelming.)

Follow this tragedy with a wonton soup of adjectives
because no one wants to hear anything else. Especially

not stupid things like, “I am as happy as a scrubbed toilet”
or “My cat obliterated the curtains
and ran away with my fortune.”

After all, they want real life!

They want it bright and beaten, choked in rope,
cold and raw from H-Mart. Give them a myth.
Or a moon. Better yet, a poem disguised as a meal.
A poem so shiny, no one will guess it’s from the 99¢ store.

About Grace Song

Grace Song Headshot photo

Grace Q. Song is a Chinese-American writer residing in New York City. Her poetry and fiction have been published or are forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, PANK, Waxwing, The Offing, The Journal, The Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. She attends Columbia University.

Animals: “If you string your dreams together they create another reality” by Teri Vela

If you string your dreams together they create another reality

After Jamaal May



I don’t want to have skin // touch skin // always // looking at someone else’s hand // wanting to outplay them // wanting a forest // beyond this one // one where the body hasn’t changed // The winds // beyond recognition // where the earth stops. // It’s a place // I am getting to // but never have the map // outline so clearly // what I am. // If it does // it ceases to be a map // is now // the thing itself // I want to see // just myself for once // with no overlapping // other.


In my next life // I want to come back as a jaguar // and maul a man // for sport. // This may not take my next life. // Everyone will think how beautiful // —dangerous—
I am. // Witches will pray to me // and take my movements // as omens. // I will come to myself // in a dream and drink me // in the mirror // muscular water // rippling // frightening focused eyes // telling myself don’t stop // tear until there’s nothing left.


Looking at someone else’s hand // as a jaguar // I maul a man. // Everyone will think how dangerous. // Never have the map. // Witches pray // my omen. The thing I want to see // in a dream // is me // singing I am something new // I am something new // I am something new.

About Teri Vela

Teri Vela's Headshot

Teri Vela (she/her) is a latinx queer poet, witch, mother, and former lawyer, born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada (Southern Paiute traditional lands). Her publications include poetry in Gordon Square Review, Witch Craft Magazine, The Seventh Wave Magazine, and others. She is a reader for Split Lip Magazine and a contributing editor with The Seventh Wave. Her poetry explores justice, reality, mental health, and leaving an unleavable place. She will be starting Warren Wilson’s low residency MFA program as a Holden Scholar in 2022.

Hybrid: “What is the Name of Your Survival?” by Ina Cariño

This visual poem comprises of black and white boxes throughout the page, to convey deeper meanings and tones. Each number moves back and forth on the page. 

1. White background that reads: "they say a woman without shadow will soon die." Black background, text upside down: "try not to trample on a woman's shadow." 

2. White background to the bottom right of the previous stanza: "when a woman loses her name, her dog will howl." Black background: "burn sweets for the dead to appease her soul." 

3. White background: "when a woman loses her shadow, swathe mirrors" followed by in black background, upside down text: "with thick cloth, lest she trap you behind glass." 

4. White background: "feed the dead. on a worthy plate, parcel out rice," followed by black background: "braised animal, for fullness in the afterlife." 

5. White background reads the title line: "What is the name of your survival? mine is:" followed by black background: "mama's jagged teeth. papa's coarse mane." 

6. Sole line in black background: "look at the moles on my cheeks." 

7. White background: "there are different ways to say my name: scar tissue" followed by black background: "starling, custard apple blemished in summer heat." 

8. White background: "they remember me to the chants on my lips. to unsung" followed by black background, upside down text: "wounds on my fingers — little prick on my dead" 

9. Black background in upside down text: "grandmother's needle as I darn my socks, knife nick" followed by three lines in white background: "chopping jade chives on the block. they remember me / to my one good body, stirring nightly to the whispers / of my foremothers — those women whose peasant stews" 

10. Black background: "simmered bitter & fragrant in red clay pots, whose / puffed silk sleeves glimmered as they swept the stoop." 

11. Black background: "(to keep phantom footsteps from drumming through / the house, they bury the body without shoes.)" 

12. White background: "I am called bata, diwata. child untamed. / body as vetiver altar, in which my kin nest / in scent of sweetsop, waft of wild jasmine. / around me my cousins guard the fire. /  make atang on top of the highest shelf — / food offering for elders past, a meal at dusk." 

13. Black background: "I was harbored by Spanish moss, like the unetched" followed by upside down text in black background: "gravestone of my missing grandfather." followed by in white background: "I am with clan, the kith of my rituals, each day // sitting in magnolia outside my window (my uncle's

14. White background: Lines are intertwined with the previous column: "I whistle a little, croon at the white dove // ghost), until my knuckles melt into softness." followed by text in black background: "once, during a birthday feast, when he was still alive," 

15. Black background, in upside down text: "my tito froze mid-speech & spoke in the voice / of his deceased wife. she told us to keep our names" followed by, in upright text: "in our thimbles, to later stitch them to our tongues. / see my mouth, flagrant?" 

16. Black background: "my name is my survival." 

17. White background: "is dreamlike din, is laughter," 

18. White background: "only brighter [caesura] higher." 

19. in a box in the middle of the line: "free." 

20. White background: "I watch a tree grow." 

21. Black background: "watch the arc of the moon." 

22. White background: "& my name is a quiet place, face familiar" 

23. White background: "in soft light. I feel the warmth of my body at dawn — / wait for the moment when, finally, I arrive / at the beginning, at the end." 

24. Black background: "a place I call home."

About Ina Cariño

Ina Cariño holds an MFA in creative writing from North Carolina State University. Their poetry appears or is forthcoming in Guernica, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review Daily, Waxwing, New England Review, and elsewhere. Ina is a Kundiman fellow and a recipient of a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. They are the winner of the 2021 Alice James Award for Feast, forthcoming from Alice James Books in March 2023. Ina was also selected as one of four winners of the 2021 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest. In 2019, Ina founded a reading series, Indigena Collective, centering marginalized creatives in the community.

Comics: “Haiku Comics” by Shin Yu Pai and Justin Rueff

Haiku Comics

A comic strip with four frames. 

Frame 1: Close-up of a man's face with the words "Running into a man"

Frame 2: Zoom-in of a woman's eyes with the words "I once loved"

Frame 3: An infant's face with large eyes and an open mouth, with the words "turns away from my infant son"

Frame 4: The man's face with a look of sadness

A comic strip with four frames. 

Frame 1: A curled green fiddlehead fern with the words "Seeing a fiddlehead fern"

Frame 2: Another coiled fiddlehead fern with the words "for the first time my boy"

Frame 3: Foliage and another fiddlehead fern with the words "draws his hand into a curl"

Frame 4: A child's fist curled inwards on top of green fiddlehead ferns"

About Shin Yu Pai & Justin Rueff

Shin Yu Pai headshot
Justin Rueff headshot

Shin Yu Pai is a poet, essayist and visual artist. She is the author of several books of poetry, including Virga (Empty Bowl, 2021), ENSŌ (Entre Ríos Books, 2020), Sightings: Selected Works  (1913 Press, 2007), AUX ARCS (La Alameda, 2013), Adamantine (White Pine, 2010), Haiku Not Bombs (Booklyn Artist Alliance, 2008), and Equivalence (La Alameda, 2003). For more info, visit

Justin Rueff is an artist, designer and educator. He has created hundreds of hand-painted signs and murals for businesses in Portland, Central Oregon and Los Angeles. He works as a sign painter, commercial artist and comic book creator. He is the creator of Brother Crow comics and the upcoming romance title, Heroes & Lovers. You can see more of Justin’s work on his instagram: @justinrueff or at

Hybrid: “BREACH” by Linda Chavers


   I.    Won’t you? 

They say, 
I say,
I ask.

Silently, as I take my deepest breath 
To go under.
The bracing never enough for the violence of impact.  

When I was a kid in a sea of white and pastel 
Sometimes the teacher would ask me
If I could share anything on the topic of slavery. 

In 4th grade
In other grades 
When I was that only kid, a drop, a rock, a ripple. 

And the teacher’s eyes catch mine 
If only for a second 
But long enough for me to know. 

Speak, please
Speak, you must. For I am so inadequate here.

I am wading and searching for an edge to grasp but, 
I stand and speak anyway. 

Because my skin and my race suggest I will do so
Suggest I will say yes
I was a kid
They were the teacher 

They were adults 

You say yes to the adults
You raise your hand 

Ah, teacher must think when she sees my stormy skin, she already knows the subject,
she has the answers in those thick, dark lashes, doesn’t she? 

Don’t I?
I didn’t know anyone else could see me
The waters so cloudy and my sinking so deep. 

Stand, won’t you?
I come up because I have to.
When my mouth opens I tilt my head back for all of the air
I am allowed. 

And when I sit back down there is salt on my lips. 

   II.    College is a violent body whose water I chop with my limbs.

I knew the waves to ride
And the ones to go under.
And the teachers would still ask me
And the white students would still turn to me
They were the teacher
I was not a kid. 

I still say yes.
I still raise my hand, if only to pull myself further into the thrashing current
Each breaststroke a discovery as I pull apart the waters before me.
There’s something down there below the chop,
if only I could stay beneath it all I could find it.
If only I didn’t have to keep coming back
for air. 

You do as they say
Even when
Especially when,
they say
they don’t know.
But you must know, don’t you? 

   III.    Fully grown now and I move full of grace and cunning. 

And yet,
In the office. In the conference room. On the train. At the party. At the meetings.
they ask me still
Because my dusty skin says
Because my smudged eyes lower
My Black body cries
Yes. yes. 

Won’t you, they say, tell us. Won’t you stay? Won’t you speak? Won’t you? Won’t you won’t you won’t you won’t you won’t you won’t you won’t you won’t you won’t you won’t you won’t– 

   IV.    I come up for air and see the white crests behind me. 

The salt dries on my brown skin, crystal stars shining on wet sand.

One day I will reach the shores. And I will ask myself, 

What is it you haven’t said yes to?
What is left for you to refuse? 

Who are you now without the white seas 

coming with its waves….?

About Linda Chavers

Dr. Linda Chavers is a writer, scholar, and cultural consultant whose current work and practice centers on teaching and supporting students as they navigate higher ed while also advising colleagues and various stakeholders on best practices for an anti-racist work environment. She balances public-facing writing around social justice and racial equity while teaching on Black Feminisms at Harvard University where she is also an Assistant Dean of the College. Dr. Linda Chavers earned a Master of Arts in English and a PhD in African and African American Studies from Harvard University. She has also taught on the faculties of Temple University and Philips Exeter Academy.

Hybrid: “Portrait of Trauma as Lite-Brite (in which “I” is any child), ages 0+” by Jade Yeung

Portrait of Trauma as Lite-Brite (in which “I” is any child), ages 0+

I wasn’t sure whether to begin those happysad stories with “I” or “She” or “He” or “We” or “One time” or “Don’t tell nobody” or . . .

–Kiese Laymon, Heavy

About Jade Yeung

Jade Yeung headshot

Jade Yeung is a Toishanese American writer from Brooklyn, NY. She has received support from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Community of Writers, and Fine Arts Work Center. Jade’s chapbook, ANTI, will be featured in Black Warrior Review Issue 48.2. She has appeared in Kissing DynamiteLammergeier, and Indolent Books’s A River Sings series. Currently Jade is pursuing an MFA at Rutgers University-Newark where she’s a Trustee Fellow. She reads for The Yale Review and Pigeon Pages.