Issue 24 / Winter 2021 / Special Issue: BIPOC on Pleasure


Editor’s Introduction to Special Issue

Special Issue 24: Pleasure Means Moving Authentically

“I chose pleasure for the theme of our BIPOC writers issue because too often, publishing entities back writers of color into the corner of trauma porn. …What about my joy? My peace? My pleasure?”

Monica Prince

Creative Nonfiction

This Thing I Should Be Able to Do

“Some women whose bodies do not conform to societal expectations transform themselves into activists. I cannot do this.”

Chaya Nautiyal Murali

Pleasure Spiked with Pain: A Love Story to Basketball

“The trophies of scars and limps and jaws that pop, all bringing pleasure, of growing up playing ball.”

Christopher Louis Romaguera

Retrospective: How Millennium Music Taught Me the Pleasure of Swagger

“Nineties grunge and alt rock bands indeed made a convincing case for why words didn’t matter, but the burgeoning music from women artists of the late nineties proved that they did.”

Simona Supekar


Buying Coffee Near the E Train

“Stick to your art. Okay? You have a gift that will keep you off of them corners.”

Charisse Annice


“I’m instantly so guilty, so sorry I ruined our night together by crying on your face after you came on mine.”

Jendayi Brooks-Flemister

Still My Baby

“I haven’t quite decided which description fits him best–psycho or sociopath.”

Lori D. Johnson

Dunhuang, in the summer / Dunhuang continued

“You don’t need to name your home to know that it’s there.”

Jiaqi Kang

The Meryl Streepers

“If you forget your routine, don’t worry; just take your clothes off.”

Trevor Lanuzza


“The heart doesn’t want what the heart doesn’t want,” I say. 

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

Anna Stacy

Seagulls would leave it spotless

“You are supposed to share the food with those who passed, but my son eyes the cake and thrums his fingers…”

Lucy Zhang


the most powerful aphrodisiac

“a single breath could feed me for eternity”

Zara R. Ahmed

menses sings of me

“every day of 5th grade you wished for a barbie / dreamhouse/fried/chicken for  dinner / your long-legged daddy & me”

Nefertiti Asanti

A Nightmare Called Tonight

“what did she lose, again? a son.

scarce as any summer night’s memory”

simone j. banks

Variations on a Wooden Spoon

“Let the dark tip of you soak in
steaming parts of me. Let it stir & stay”

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

When you check in to let me know you’re thinking of me

“I call myself beautiful. And when I can’t, I call the cat.
She sits tall and black in morning light, green eyes waiting.”

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

Alcohol Woman

“figured out how to live without / a mother or a father,  / desperately needed a mother back then”

Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees


“Her velvety skin so tender and ripe, / so heavy with her own syrupy liqueur, so eager to yield”

Dalia Elmanzalawy


“The sounds we make shake dust from the ceiling. // And you wake up hungry”

Ashley Elizabeth

I don’t know pleasure until she convinces me to skip French class

“all they have to do is stretch & caress & claim & conquer. / There is no shame in wanting”

Ashley Elizabeth


“…capture the sharp / inhale you take”

Ashley Elizabeth

While others try to keep alive

“we gaily stay where we’re aware of where we are, among / the others in this bar—”

Jahan Khajavi

This Body Needs a Biscuit

“The kind that sits in / Tongue memory”

Anna Limontas-Salisbury

Live and in Living Color: A Personal Ad

“It’s a testimony to the fact / That I have lived and loved”

Anna Limontas-Salisbury

To Love Me

“To love me, do your work, your spirit work”

Anna Limontas-Salisbury

Everyone shimmers; a Small Business gets air-conditioning

“When syncopation is outlawed at every / house party for fear of heatstroke. My family / & I work on our feet.”

Ankoor Patel

Flower Bush Politics [118 bpm]

“Champals slap on the bottoms of feet, / like percussion, like crumble sprinting up a faultline.”

Ankoor Patel

Ode to Every Poem That Made Me

“with the attitude of a steel clamp’s jaw. / Nail polish so mean it’s a punchline dangerous”

Ankoor Patel

I Dance Merengue Barefoot

Titi Linda lives as I forget she died / barely a year ago. The music drowning / out the memory of grief

Abuela claps / cucharon in hand. / My nieces laugh / from the steps. / Mami copies. / We become / a band unbroken”

Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez

Mandarins Are Prayers, Too

“praying / for serenity & wisdom. My thumb stained / by dried, golden blood crying / from under the peel.

I taste / the flesh of the baby fruit. Its juices flowing / como un riachuela around my tongue.”

Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez

My Feminism Looks Like

“& melting palms into palms because we need / sisterhood over anything. & I tell them diamonds do not crack.”

Tatiana Figueroa Ramirez


“now I plant myself”

Sreshtha Sen

Against Bestiary

“The first time I held my dinner in my hands / felt a little like this: your lust for me a bleat.”

Sreshtha Sen

How It’s Gotta Be

“Come in while I bathe talkin’ about / my back, my shoulders.”

Mel Sherrer

California Wildfires, 2020

“Welcome to / sunny California. Come see the beaches / and stay for the fire siege.”

Wendy Thompson Taiwo

The Albatross

“No angels told my mother I was coming.”

Ellen June Wright

From Under the Dryer, I Watch the Beautician

“When else in life does one yield the body / to another when not in sickness or in love?”

Ellen June Wright


The Whore Poem

“I just wanted to fuck, wear red lipstick and be left alone on Sunday mornings.”


I’ve Always Been Your Woman

“Nothing in his space proved that I existed or that he slept there. I don’t know what made me look.”

Pietra Dunmore


“Once I saw something growing. / A filament.”

Fallon Leyba

Postcard Poem 3

“My sisters ate cereal while the police took notes.”

Krystle May Statler