A special issue focused on Southeast Asia
We are amazed, awed, delighted and have wept (in a good way) at the sheer talent represented in the stories, poems and essays. In fact, we are saddened that we couldn’t represent all of Southeast Asia. We have so much talent.
Thus, here, on the landless soil of the online journal, I imagine a garden. Here, seeds of spice have already been planted by generations past and present; here, I call others to plant varietals of their own, not alone but in concert; to cross-pollinate and cross-fertilise;to till and to harvest; to feed readers of many tribes; to flourish as a collective.
She interlaces her fingers, my fingers, and spins around to face me. Shockingly, when I am not floating above her we are almost exactly the same height. “I wanted to say I’m sorry. For stealing your hands. I wasn’t lying, I steal from manananggal all the time, especially those that are just lying around in alleyways or in the bushes of the park. I stole a toe from my tita once. They never care. I really didn’t think you would.” I open my mouth but she ploughs on, twisting my fingers into pretzels until they go white. “But then I heard you in the music room earlier today and I realized you really meant it. Those hands aren’t yours, and these hands are, even though they’re attached to me. So I’m sorry. And also your music sounded really bad.”
Their story begins with a quick-witted mouse deer who escapes the clutches of a ferocious tiger. From the crisp ring behind Pelanduk’s voice to the natural bass tones found in the thunder of Harimau’s pride—this is where their rigorous vocal training comes to light. Weaving between different timbres in their arsenal, a prized technique that has been passed down to them.
Maria was somewhere between sleeping and waking, not knowing how many moments passed, not feeling hunger, barely feeling thirst. She could not even dream of the days with Julian, of the days with Pedro. Her eyes opened, then closed again, not feeling anything around her.
The city was so large now there was no longer night and day, only glowing blue hours as endless as the low hum emanating from the chalky skyline. It beamed cyan light through her darkest curtains, staining green the mango-yellow sunrises and sunsets of her city, which lived now only on her dresser, as three snapshots. Each one was no taller than her finger, and propped up beside everything else Rosamie’s aunt called trash and kept begging her to throw away: a half-torn concert ticket, a withered butterfly wing, a dented bottle cap fished from the pearly gutter that was all that remained of Kasama Restobar after its upgrade to a flat plane of humming whiteness.
And I smelled it on the air and tasted it in my memory: when it all blended together salty, sweet and smoky, the smoothness of the noodle and the crunch of the green chives, the sultry luxury of the lap cheong and all of it, inextricable together, a kind of magic that conjures up something other—something not quite of this world. And then it’s gone almost as soon as you taste it.
"Because," Lau sighed, "Kuan Yin is the most compassionate and merciful who alleviates all our suffering, which is everything an all-loving mother is. We call her Kuan Yin Ma because compassion is motherly, not Kuan Yin Ba, or Kuan Yin Kor. Kuan Yin is our supreme mother, no one else." Her recitation was flawless, only marred by her eye-rolling at each word as Ava|_0 stared impassively.
an elephant wept in ancient memory and the uncles in all the kopitiams raised their cups of ang ji kao
I stalk walk and hunger curdles like a middle finger on the ramp, merging into traffic.
When oceans / are rooms / I could never breathe in, the city / held its breath.
By the chorus she was a young woman again.
we tried to photograph this phenomenon but self does not appear in the images
Is this the period of rage / prophesied and predicted
while i sway in the wind like a matador’s flag / a long-tongued ghost laps at my silk skirts
Food is never just food. It’s memory, it’s love, it’s loss, it’s sadness and it’s nourishment