International Voices

A Publication of Lehigh University

2021 Issue

Foreword by Dr. Cheryl Matherly

Trapeta Mayson, Philadelphia’s current poet laureate who spoke as part of Lehigh’s Global Citizenship conference last winter, has launched the Healing Verse Philly Poetry Line.  Callers may dial toll-free 1-855-763-6792 to hear a 90-second poem, updated every Monday.  Mayson, who is also a social worker, started this project because she recognized the power of poets to offer what many really need to hear right now – words of hope, encouragement, condolence, inspiration, and healing…

The Fountain

Along the distant shores of a glistening ocean lies a village. In that village, there is a house. It stands atop a grassy mound, closest to where the fishing boats are docked. This run-down building has been empty for years, but it has something special – a magnificent fountain at the front.

This fountain is made out of smooth marble and flecks of lapis lazuli. Villagers keep it polished and clean, and recognise it as a community monument.  White lotuses grow abundantly in its pond- the flower of the village. In the centre is a statue of a mermaid, decorated with pearls and colourful shells…

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

As I got older my body began to change
In a way that brought the opposite sex my way
However they only focused on my sleek cover
But never the pages beneath
The anger would boil over and I would just want to scream:
Don’t you dare look at me,
with your unworthy gaze.
You’re dirty thoughts,
are worse than if you dared to talk.
I’m not a show on the road,
so what gives you the permission,
to subconsciously take off my clothes?

They Can’t Burn Us All

Fire burns my lungs and throat whenever I try to speak

A sad and tired violent thing that nobody can see

It kicks at bones and heart and strangles all that I believe

Gasoline is poured on me when I watch the TV

My Time With Mom

There have been times in my life when I knew I was living inside a blessing. A chapter so unique I knew I’d always look back and say “WOW, what a remarkable time!”. I’m living in one of those chapters now. But let me give you the backstory first. Mom and I have always been best friends. I was the last of three kids, lagging five years behind my sister, and seven behind my brother. So when they were off to school or sports or friends I was still at home. Mom and I had all sorts of…

She Was the First Love

She was the first love. It was a fall afternoon when we first met, I was still adjusting to the new school while others were trying to figure out where I was from because I thought it would be fun to not speak English. Although we barely knew each other at first, but she didn’t care, what began as a simple hello became an amazing roller coaster. It became a classic romance film with us walking to class together; passing love letters under the desk and her telling me to look both ways…


The light sparkles on the blank wall

Reflecting off the glass bottles I placed

Hoping for a moment like this

The colors, a kaleidoscope in the afternoon sun Whispering music as it dances across the wall I am unable to break my gaze

Complete contentedness for just a moment Until the light shifts, the colors disappear

Oma’s Brooch

“Noah, you should take your grandmother with you to Germany. She could show you the place that she and your grandfather lived. You know, I think the farm is a B & B now. I bet they’d give you a discount on rooms.” Charlotte really wanted her son to spend some time with his grandmother, Ruth. She regretted that they barely ever visited her mother, especially since Noah started college. Now, he was going on a short trip to Germany to get inspiration for his MFA work in art. This would be…


Generational trauma lives under the beds of your fingernails. It collects like plaque between the teeth, corrupts like hair bleach. Except no amount of scrubbing or filing will rid your skin of years of dried blood. No amount of lip gloss and white dresses can soothe the damage done. Your lack of pride, your ancestors’ grime, it lives in you forever. You can try to hold hands with your sisters, but watch them wash off your dirt. It is uncomfortable for them, like soggy bootsoles, like wet sand…

It’s Your Turn

Halloween is a nice festivity where kids can have fun, dress, and get some candy; whereas, teens and adults can have parties with their friends. However, on Halloween, safety is never guaranteed as this day also represents the time where the door that divides our world from the unknown is open, and the Hudson family will regret forever the day they ignored this warning. The Hudson family consisted of a father and mother who had two children, Justin who was 17, and Max who was 11. It was a…

13 Frightening Fridays


In howling woods and hollowed rooms

in bolted vaults and entrenched tombs;

Where tortured Gentiles in dust decay 

and the pyromaniac souls of Inquisitors screech in flames today. 


Where Hades’ scarlett chariot of skulls shriek 

and spectral choirs on Zephyr’s icy blow sing; 

A Jewelry Box

Necklace, wine, candles

She falls into his eyes

Like being attracted by a black hole

Holding his long and beautiful fingers

A hand born to fit the piano

In the Halloween Night

Just in the Halloween night, I need to catch up with the company business, so I work until 12 o’clock to deal with all things. I wanted to go home and get a good night’s sleep, so I immediately went to the elevator to leave the company building. Corridors are exceptionally quiet at night, because at this time, the only people left in the building are the guards in the janitor’s room. But just then I noticed the sound of footsteps on the corridors behind me. I was a little…

Get Off Your Pity Train

Open to me, young. Young enough to not know what love was, but still told about “when you’re older and have a wife.” I remember sitting in my preschool class thinking about how I enjoyed being around this girl, so I must have a crush on her, not thinking a) that I could absolutely be this girl’s friend because that’s what those feelings meant and b) about how full my heart felt when I hung out with my boy best friend, then…

Old Pathos

My head pounded. I could hear my heart beat like a drum in my ears. It was so God-damn loud. For heaven’s sake, I thought hearts belonged in your chest, not your ears. Past my heartbeat, I could hear the distant clicking sounds of cameras and voices. I’m lying flat-faced against a hard floor. I realize I am on a sidewalk, God knows where. This is already humiliating. 

I flop over and groan. Someone prods me with a sharp object. Reluctantly, I open my eyes. The sight is…


The first time I loved someone, we walked around my hometown. The air was so crisp I felt like I was breathing for the first time. String lights were threaded through the overhangs like our fingers. There was the smell of black coffee bleached with oat milk, wilting flowers, somebody’s spilled glass of wine. I thought, how simple it is to live here, among local art galleries and fair trade cafés.

I read this morning that the bridge I held her hand on hides an old mattress atop jagged rocks…

Expanding Heart

This painting took nine months to complete.  Interesting… The same amount of time it takes to create a new life.  In many ways that is what this painting did for me. 

There were times of intense creativity while making this painting, followed by weeks of gestating, waiting for the next wave of inspiration to come.  

I never envisioned the final image, never knew the subject of the painting until it was complete. I painted in every orientation, both on the wall and flat on a table. …

IV Seasons of Sentimentality

that scorching night in Manila turned into a frozen river of time

with your frost soft gaze that caresses my

pulse into burning hail





Venus in the 12th

I live my life in metaphors

I wish you could understand

I place myself in top of a tower,

surround myself with chains

I see you, I dream of you 

I write our story and read it a thousand times,

convince myself it isn’t true

Time Capsule

This summer we were scattered like seeds to the wind when we heard a story about a boy who would remain a boy, becoming a man who, to this day, is that boy. We sat in our little boxes that we thought were solitary cells before we knew what solitary cells were and listened…

Silent Name

“Okay, start wrapping up your responses in the next few minutes. I’ll choose someone randomly to share out to the class.” These words bounced off the walls of my classroom, wrapping me up in what should be a simple task. I stared at the assignment written on the board – the prompt I was supposed to be writing about for the last ten minutes. The sound of clicking pens rang in my ear. Quiet shuffles and whispers distracted me as the teacher walked around small desks, peering at…

Skip to toolbar