PROSE

7 P.M. IN AMSTERDAM-OOST
Off Assignment
13 December 2021
Flash Nonfiction

 

In this neighborhood, every building is a jewel box, windows flung wide; we don’t believe in curtains, my Dutch friends tell me, because we have nothing to hide.

YENE ZEMA, FIKIR
Transition
Issue 131, November 2021
Nonfiction

 

Their names surround me now, both the ones they have given me and the ones I have given them as protection, each one a cup infused with so many strains of tea: emotions, adjectives, the whole of the Holy Bible. Their names mean leader, shield, blessed, and pure; their names mean beautiful, Sheba, queen, and joy. They have names that sing of silk, of fabric rustling over red terracotta floors, of ancestors commanding endure; they have names passed down from Noah, over eons and oceans, through infinite worlds. 
 

SANCTUM
Random Sample Review
Issue 6, October 2021
Flash Nonfiction

 

You knee-walk off the bed and wear his slippers into the bathroom. The boys in the house have no toilet paper and the way Fox is telling it, neither does anyone else in the state. 
 

AIRPLANE MODE
Lammergeier,
Issue 10, Autumn 2021 
Flash Nonfiction

They leave at 3PM on a Sunday.

Four hours after the taxi braves the plummeting jackfruits and cavernous potholes to disappear down the lane, you find your sister’s sandal waiting upright by her bed.

KATTAKUMANJAL
Lammergeier,
Issue 10, Autumn 2021 
Flash Nonfiction

Our next-door neighbor wields incense to ward off mosquitoes. Every evening she circles her yard carrying a copper saucer of benzoin, boiled down to the consistency of treacle. The smell stays with us forever after the first inhalation; it clings to clothes, hair, sinuses.

THE INVESTIGATION IS STILL ONGOING
Entropy,
1 September 2021 
Nonfiction

I have been justifying, as so many of us do, my actions and my life after the fact. When in fact none of it is relevant, because I wasn’t the one who put all this in motion. But that’s how we’re trained, isn’t it? That’s how we’re raised. I’ve provided the background, Your Honour. Now let me present the facts of the case.

IGLOO
Club Plum Literary Journal,
Vol. 2, Issue 3, July 2021 
Flash Nonfiction

 

Afternoon sunlight. A radiance through the stand on the opposite bank, startling the snow into iridescence, sequins embedded wherever the light touches. Promises and gold. There’s a science to it, but you’ve forgotten.

LINGUISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY
SAGA Vol. 84, May 2021 
3rd Place, SAGA Prose Award

Nonfiction

The kanji hangs over my head and weaves itself into my dreams. 忍/shinobu/endure. It’s an eighth-century Japanese ideogram, rendered in thick brush strokes on an A5 canvas daubed to look like parchment; my little sister and I painted it together, one of the last things we would share before the coronavirus pandemic trapped us on opposite sides of the globe. 

JEWEL PATIENCE
Sky Island Journal,
Issue 16, April 2021

Flash Fiction

No one told me that the spirit against whom I would have to guard would be a woman with skin as smooth as a ripe brinjal, that her hair would be braided tighter than the ropes of my fishing nets, that she would speak a language older than Sinhala and I would understand her anyway.

NOTES FROM A CROSS-CULTURAL SUMMER
SAGA Vol. 83, May 2020
1st Place, SAGA Prose Award
Nonfiction

I’m in a landlocked naval base two hundred miles from my hometown and all the people who know my signals are oceans away, scattered across four continents. I eat and say thank you and keep my food down and I know there are unknown men in the corner of every room, but they’re soldiers, so I can’t even track their footsteps.
 

SCHMETTERLINGSKÜSSE
SAGA Vol. 83, May 2020
Nonfiction

 Look into them and everything disappears except the sky, bleu de triomphe, the spirits of souls. Raise your head; the benedictions fall into you. Schmetterlingsküse. You haven’t seen butterflies in aeons but here they are now in their jeweled millions, Jezebel and the Leopard and the Ceylon Tiger, parantica taprobana, not to be confused with the Tamil Tiger, winging across the island to Samanalakanda, where the Buddha's footprint appears at sunrise.
 

POETRY

AYZOSH
Sky Island Journal,
Issue 18, October 2021 
Poetry

The Tamil script is an abugida,

like Amharic, like Sinhala;
it slips through my fingers faster

than grains of Jaffna sand.
There are no words in any of my tongues for everything I want to say.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Sky Island Journal,
Issue 18, October 2021 
Poetry

where        do i buy pregnancy tests

where        is Walgreens near me

where        is my insurance accepted

where        will they send me if i get 

where        can i get an abortion for free

NOVENA
Sky Island Journal,
Issue 18, October 2021 
Poetry

  1. Do your nails pink like smoked tilapia

  2. Does the hair on your knuckles 

  3. Does the sleight of the pen weigh

  4. Does the underbelly of your lips

TO THE WOMAN OF COLOR WHO OFFERED ME A POST-VACCINE LIFT
ANGLES,
Issue 9, Summer 2021 

Poetry

Could you believe I knew every song

they played on the tannoy

in those thirteen minutes –

Oasis and John Denver and Bob Dylan and the ghost of my grandfather

sipping arrack in his gardening clothes

listening to Gold FM,

right before the soldier-nurse asked me

do you have a fear of needles.

FLAYED
ANGLES,
Issue 9, Summer 2021 
Poetry

I am cracked leaf skin the wrong shade of brown decaying under thermals and socks and camisoles and sweaters and tights and jeans and lingerie and leather and hats and scarves and gloves and if you wanted to peel me into pieces it would take you longer than it would to build an igloo outside the dormitory ice piled on ice piled on ice fingers losing all feeling and so disappearing –

BULLETPROOF
SAGA Vol. 84, May 2021
1st Place, SAGA Poetry Award

 

America is burning, smoke bombs

and teargas,

and my best friend’s head is haloed

by fluffy black curls,

and I switch off the stove

and sit by the unlocked door until

he knocks rings the doorbell texts me knocks again,

because he’s remembered too.

FOR [REDACTED]
Vasquez-Valarezo Award 2021
1st Place

You said, “I’m risking my life to do this,”

and then you asked me to name

your activist Instagram page.

           kilometres away

your people were being massacred

and who was I to say no?

Somewhere in               

a soldier wiped down his bayonet;

his friends holstered their smartphones.

FREEFALL IN REVERSE
Vasquez-Valarezo Award 2021 
3rd Place

dis is also dec is also dys

disturbance breeding deceit

birthing dysfunction.

I stand over myself

in the middle of the night crooning 

welcome to the rest of your life. 

FAIR EXCHANGE, NO ROBBERY
SAGA Vol. 83, May 2020
1st Place, SAGA Poetry Award
Barbara Anderson Miller Award

Today I am wearing my grandmother’s hands. Here are her flaking pores, dandruff-dry, her bruise-dark knuckles, her pink-leathered palms, bereft of oil, curled at the end of my arms.

MAGPIES
SAGA Vol. 83, May 2020

On a hilltop in Gelderland

you look south over the river and say

apparently on clear days

you can see all the way to Nijmegen

but I don't think that's true. 



 

PROOF POSITIVE
Vasquez-Valarezo Award 2019
1st Place

They are everything, these raw tearing words that could have been written for you, 

and you had to come here, red lipstick smeared on the lip

of the mug you drained to ease

that down-deep clench

and something is happening.

Red draped around you like a flag.



 

I HOLD THE DOOR
SAGA Vol. 82, May 2019
2nd Place, SAGA Poetry Award

The world unfolds

in a Rock Island coffee shop.

Maroc, France, Deutschland, Italia.

You make December pilgrimages

to your mother’s country.

I eye your charcoal curls

and the length of your lashes 

as you talk of Rajasthan

and traversing the Ganges.



 

IES ABROAD BLOG

AMSTERDAM

Fall 2019

Butterflies, Crossroads, The Universe: Answers I've Found In Amsterdam

When the boat docks in the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, it’s begun to rain. The captain hands passengers up out of the canal, bidding each one a merry Goedenacht! I pull up my hood and wend my way through De Wallen, towards the bright lights of Prins Hendrikkade. My Dutch friends avoid this part of Amsterdam, but it's one of my favourite neighbourhoods to spend a last evening; slipping through narrow alley-streets, boots ringing on rain-slick cobblestones, watching for new wonders around every corner. 

ATHTHI
SAGA Vol. 82, May 2019
Barbara Anderson Miller Award 2019
3rd Place, SAGA Prose Award
Nonfiction

 I am standing in a Hobby Lobby parking lot, thinking of Aththi. The sky is an enormous blue, cross-stitched with jet trails from planes so high that I have no chance of hearing them. The light, though, is the same gold that gilds Aththi when he walks down the drive to close the gate for the evening. Time zone math insists that this event has already happened eleven hours ago, eighteen thousand kilometers away, but let me now imagine him, standing at the gate.