2 Poems by Neha Maqsood

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To Be an Avant Garde Means to Be a Dark Horse

The wet grass discontinues cartwheels
     and backflips for the heaving rawness of a

child’s chest/a dot. Cossetting the sun,
     generations assemble to hang the moon.

It’s like swathing skeletons in linen but
     draping the human pelvis in rosary

peas. The whiteness of our skin is up for
     grabs, in case you needed to reaffirm our


Swimming Against the Tide

Ramadan summers and stuttering ACs
     against unwaged construction workers in a fast//

a TV soap against a medical degree//
     solid mental health against an Instagram

follow// COVID-19 against the unquestionable 
     wrath of God// being white against someone avoiding

sitting next to you on the bus// social anxiety against
     a blind date// a Wall Street analyst against fulfillment// a

root canal against an antidepressant// a first-class seat
     against Southwest// zero custody of your children against

a shared bedroom where making love isn’t guaranteed//
     lingering gazes by the office cooler against him pushing

me up against a wall// him waiting in a summer pool
     of water ready to destroy my life against me arriving like a shiny,

new penny// his saliva melting my occipital bone
     against his tongue lacing the juts of my back// spreading

the folds of your body against feminism// a first love
     against a marriage matrimonial// a child’s bones buried

under a childhood home against cusses, 5 prayers
     and biryani// my mother telling my psychiatrist

that I can will the depression out of myself against
     him asking ‘can you will your bad eyesight out

or shall I keep the glasses?’//

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Neha Maqsood is a Pakistani journalist whose writing on race, religion, Indo-Pak relations, and global feminism has been published in Metro UK, Express Tribune, Foreign Policy, Women Under Siege and other places. Her poetry, too, has been featured/ is forthcoming in over 20 literary journals and magazines, including Strange Horizons, Gutter Magazine, Marble Poetry, Abridged and more. In 2019, she was the recipient of the Black Bough Readers Award for Poetry. In 2020, her poetry chapbook, Vulnerability was awarded the 2019-2020, Hellebore Poetry Scholarship Award and is scheduled for publication by Hellebore Press for 2021.

Deezy Violet is a Nashville-based artist, as well as the guitarist and vocalist of grunge pop band Sad Baxter, which you can listen to here: https://sadbaxter.bandcamp.com.