My Privilege by Avery Salumbides

My Women and Gender Studies Prof reminds us,

“Always address your privilege.”

And so, I will.


It is my privilege as a woman,

To never be afraid when a police officer points his gun,

Because I know that men can be just as deadly without a deadly weapon.

Because I am lucky to never be seen as a threat, but rather an easy target.

And I’m lucky to understand that I will always be protected.

Now, I don’t mean the way society rebrands rapists as good swimmers,

Or the way they want us to birth the new generation, but refuse to pay us for time off,

I mean the way they:

Give guidelines on what I can and cannot do with my own body,

And restrict who uses my restroom.

When in reality, I don’t give a damn who uses my restroom,

As long as, I can nurture my baby or erase my attacker’s.

It is my privilege,

To know that my worth stems from my body, instead of my ability to hold a conversation,

That behind every catcall, there’s potential for claws,

So: speak softer, cover up,

And always hold your keys like the difference between getting away,

And being found the next morning.

And, wow, I’m so lucky to know

That I could be the top of my fucking game and I’d still lose,

Whether is twenty-five cents on the dollar or the entire election.


It is my privilege as a mixed-race minority,

To check in at the hotel,

And get mistaken for the new housekeeper.

To make eye contact with the tour guide,

As he notes the college’s generosity with financial assistance.


But then I remember,

I don’t speak Spanish or Tagalog.

I’m checking into a hotel,

And I’ve made it to college.

I am this paradox of privilege.

Like when I try to make conversation with my relatives,

But it comes out more like a persuasive essay on why I am related.

And I constantly feel this need to speak on behalf of my people—

Sometimes of all people.

When in reality,

I don’t know if I really know them.


So, in all honesty,

It is my privilege to not understand.

I don’t know how to use the toilet as a desk,

And the bathroom as my study,

Because my eight siblings overflow onto the living room couches of this one bedroom apartment,

And the light I need to write this paper will keep them up.

And when I am stopped by a police officer,

I’m thinking of the best excuse for my excessive speeding,

Not how best to communicate reaching for my license to avoid staring down the barrel of a gun.

I have never been afraid to hold hands with the person I love in a public place,

And I have never had to choose between worshipping my God and dodging slurs on the street.


And this is what I think my professor is trying to say.

In addressing your privilege,

You can understand the lens through which you approach the issue.

Whether you’re a resident or a guest to the situation.

So that you know to ask the owner what color to paint the house,

Before you douse it in your favorite shade of yellow.

You Ask My Origins by Vivian Lee

I’m from the dry red dirt

of He’nan

I’m from the thatched roads

of China’s countryside

with the dirty, minimally-clad children

running on the unpaved streets

or in Beijing’s communist concrete roads


I’m from the paved streets


of Ning Po

where a girl itches her long fingers,

staring at her classmate playing

the violin

while a boy looks at the closed fists of his father

telling him he has to quit school

to work for jia


I’m from the immigrants who rode the rocky boat


to leave the land of death, oppression

and permanent children of Atlas.


I’m from the dream of


Gatsby’s mansions, and

silver platters waiting for me
in the land

where Liberty bell rings.

Lacuna by Benjamin Szuhaj

I looked for you along the river

In its blue current

When I ran.

And I looked for you in literary theory

In thin abstruse pages

When I read.

And I looked for you in myself

Far less often

When I wrote.


And I looked for you in birdsong and warm breezes and

Fresh hot coffee and those few times the sun came out

Last winter. I looked for you in trite and trivial occurrences

That harbored schematics for my life.


When my mind turned inside-out and painted the walls red

I should have asked myself: What was this conspiracy?



I read meaning into everything.

I saw symbols everywhere. I drove myself mad

Looking for an answer ‘out there.’


Then I took a break—I was forced to take a break;

To wait with your absence.

By waiting, I realized

What was missing

Wasn’t you;

It wasn’t me either.

What was missing was hidden in the shadow of the fear

Of what taking a chance might mean;

In believing that two roads once diverged

And never reconnected.


What was missing was the brazen


Of being wrong wrong wrong wrong

And never getting better;

But getting somewhere,

And being something

And being something

And being something.

Suspicion by Sarah LeHan

‘Did you add sugar to this tea?’


Her face is obscured by the rim of the cup. All I can see

are her eyes, frozen, fixed

on me. I haven’t seen them that wide since

that bear stole our toothpaste out in Californ—


No. Never mind. Her eyes remained steady then. She blinked,

zipped up the tent, returned to sleep.


But she doesn’t blink now. She doesn’t blink.


‘Did you add sugar to this tea?’ She repeats. Her intensity

drills through my cloud of steam.


‘I didn’t add anything.’ I say.


‘Are you sure?’ she says. ‘Are you lying?’




‘“No” meaning what? That you’re not sure?’


‘That I’m not lying. I haven’t touched it, you know that.

You saw me emerge from the den when you called.’


‘But it tastes so sweet.’


I check the label. ‘It’s herbal tea.’

I turn it towards her. ‘No sugar. See?’


‘But it tastes so sweet.’


‘It's steeped.’


‘But it tastes too sweet.’ She scowls. She’s had enough.

She crosses to the sink, upends the cup.

For a second, the steel turns—red? purple? burgundy?

No matter. It wasn’t the color of toothpaste.


I left her then, read my book, went to sleep.

But the next morning I came downstairs to see

two ice cream cartons in the bin, empty.


I sighed. They should be in recycling.


Lighthouse by Sabyne Pierre

And my mother once told me I was made of stars

Filled with galaxies of stories and secrets and witnessing the best and the worst the world

has to offer

I saw my dad look at her once like she was the lighthouse that would bring him home to her,

I watched him lose sight of it all in a riptide of uncertainties and fear of commitment once the

sun set.

One night,

I watched as my nephew entered this world, fighting & screaming for fear that this life

wouldn't be all that it's cracked up to be.

I'm starting to see what he means.


A breeze found its way through my open window

With sirens about three boys whose breaths were stolen from them.

With that, three young women--Biles, Manuel, and Carter win Olympic gold medals and I

can't help but wonder,

With unjust deaths and just victories and everything in between,

Why does it always feel like we’ve lost sight of the light before?


If I am ashore, now, who has lost sight of me?


I have watched men drown.


My father,

then you.

A Close Reading by Audrey Schwartz

We all learned

In the way that children who are nursed on Austen and Faulkner do,

In the way that readers of Margaret Mitchell and Charles Dickens must,

How to do a close reading.


A babbling brook,

A cooling breeze?

Blooming flowers,

Singing birds?

Lush trees,

Radiant sunlight?

Ah, our hero must be in love.


A greying sky,

A rat’s nest of clouds?

Stinging wind,

Howling dogs?

Gnarled branches,

Torturous rain?

Oh, our hero must have been betrayed.


But why aren’t we ever taught how to discuss both at once?

What does it mean

When the birds keep singing even as the dogs howl beneath them,

Or a soft breeze weaves its way through a tangled mass of clouds?

What does it mean

When one can see sunlight even through a sheet of rain,

Or the wind stings one’s nose as she bends down to smell the flowers?

What does it mean

When a brook continues chattering to a sulking sky,

Or the trees only seem greener for the knots in their branches?


What does it mean

To include both the heavenly and the hellish in a single text?

What does it mean

To never know from one second to the next whether one’s life is a paradise or a pit?

In that case

Our heroine must have been betrayed.

And she must have realized that she loves him anyway.

Why I am Seeking Employment by Matthew Rabito



will always be buzzing

along, let’s

visit it in between rounds of our fantasy,

poke it with a stick.

i imagine it moves like

JELLO, always moving,

never leaving, that is

we can be sure it’s where we left it.


Daniel Arsham and

Manuel Neri, suspended in

JELLO next to Rembrandt next to Schubert.

way down there, the cave painters

of Lascaux, next to Banksy, really anyone

is in the JELLO including every

3rd grade macaroni artist and GOD

himself, and the makers of JELLO.


we look at all this for some time

and we return to work

happy on our lunch break to eat

something besides JELLO.