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Karen An-hwei Lee

Contributor Biography

Karen An-hwei Lee is the author of Rose Is a Verb: Neo-Georgics (W&S/Slant, 2021), The Maze of Transparencies (Ellipsis, 2019), Sonata in K (Ellipsis, 2017), Phyla of Joy (Tupelo, 2012), Ardor (Tupelo, 2008), and In Medias Res (Sarabande, 2004), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. Other titles include a work of literary criticism, Anglophone Literatures in the Asian Diaspora, and the translation,  Doubled Radiance: Poetry & Prose of Li Qingzhao. Recipient of an NEA Fellowship and the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, Lee serves as the provost at Wheaton College, Illinois.


After a season of hiddenness, the cicadas
arise with a longing in the early summer,
clandestine flights in the midnight trees—

dozing through seventeen years, oblivious
to what we did or did not learn in the year
of blooming with the roseola of June heat,

fashioning mad melodies in the tender elms, 
strumming waterproof mandolins of wing  
and spiracle while the neighborhood empties—

everyone is at the movies, the tickets sold out.
We thought no one would ever go out again
after the pandemic, yet here we are, clouds  

of molted shell. Today, I am nearly a half century—
an age when people laugh to hear how old I am
yet laugh again to hear me say I am still young—

in comparison to this city-island state, or this
archipelago nation, five hundred years of blood
long after the resurrection of Christ, anno Domini.

Martin M. Macasaet

Contributor Biography

Born in Manila, Martin M. Macasaet is a Filipino Catholic priest of the Salesians of Don Bosco, for more than thirty years now. At the same time, he is also a youth minister, as well as a youth culture observer and commentator. He reads, writes, speaks, and lectures on various youth ministry subjects, topics, and concerns.

New Wine, Good News

Care for some cabernet sauvignon?

It’s fresh from fresh wineskins, mind you.

As for sewing patches on old cloaks,

Well, sorry, I don’t know how to do that.


Anyway: how dare you judge Him and His disciples.

Just because they’re joyful doesn’t mean

They’re loose. It’s just that they know how

To delight in the Good News. Unlike most of us.

So, again: how about some zinfandel this time?

No whiskey and soda, no margaritas.

Better decide fast. The wineskins

Used to store them are fast getting old.

Or—on second thought—

It really doesn’t matter. It may be

Already a couple of millennia old by now.

But it continues to age gracefully.

Tongues of Fire

Is this a parade of drunken polyglots?

In a mishmash of several languages?

Oh, I forgot: there’s one more

In the list: the language of youth.


It’s all meant to renew the face of the earth

And that of the Church therein—

Lest she end up as grandmother,

With the forgetfulness and confusion.


There’s unity in diversity, in fact,

Harmony in cacophony as well.

Gathered as they are in one place,

With the Queen in their midst.


The locked doors were useless.

This is something truly powerful. 

The finger snap produced continuous

Conflagrations of huge proportions.


A huge implosion indeed, the opposite of Babel.

Might still be hard to figure out, but essentially

Provocative and earth-shaking, in fact.

That’s how it all revivifies and rejuvenates.


And with a method in the madness, by the way.

So fear not; don’t you worry.

This is something badly needed:

To learn indeed the language of the youth.


The tongues will burn you or scald you.

But there’s no need for fire drills or extinguishers.

Don’t even rely on Google Translate.

We will comprehend everything in due time.


At the moment I may still be at a loss for words.

Sign up for language lessons?

Polish those accents? But I’ll just let

Bridges of old beliefs burn, baby—burn.

Author's Note:

The inspiration for the first poem is obviously Mt 9:17 (“new wine in fresh wineskins”). One would think that the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines might be a good occasion to counter a passive and inactive status quo, in view of renewal. As a Salesian of Don Bosco and a youth minister involved in schools and in seminary formation, I am particularly hopeful with the youth of the Philippines. I see them not only as the future of the Church and of the country. They are, in fact, the present, actively bringing vigor and freshness with their gifts and talents.

This second poem of mine is more specifically on such a role of the youth, using the narrative and imagery of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13).

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