“I want a life where I feel strange and intimate/with the border between the real and unreal//and still get to eat.”
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“if Rome had fallen here, this desert/would have made it look like the most miraculous/& inviting smoke.” “if Rome had fallen here, this desert/would have made it look like the most miraculous/& inviting smoke.”
“Often, when my mother leafs through large, cluster stacks of paper and/prepares them for the shredder, I imagine skin.”
“I say hello/to a small face peeking/round the corner of someone’s house:/a cat in my mind/until it stands upright…”
“He grabs and grabs your hand and you keep going, daring and bargaining and begging for grace, trapped in all the muck and fluidity of the in between space.”
“My vagina is mostly scales; it belongs/in the water, filtered and innocent.”
“my dolls have hands not much smaller than mine/I rip the arms off my plastic baby doll/my mother pops them back in the sockets”
"Well, that shut me right up. He had told me before that I sounded crazy, that I was acting crazy. This time was different. I was crazy, plain and simple. I excused myself to use the bathroom and turned on both the sink faucet and the shower head. I was not going to let him hear me cry."
When I was boy, you were a planet. Then you weren’t. You disappeared from the solar system, relegated to “other,” to “dwarf.” But I remember you, distant one. You are part of a family of the forsaken. In the end, you revolved around the sun like the rest of us.
"I don’t want to go out drinking with anyone. I want to drink, and for everyone to go bother Anna, instead. As the Phoenix desert glides by outside my window, I realize I haven’t seen Hermes or my home state in nearly ten years. His laugh is annoying as hell, but it also reminds me of a past life, I feel weirdly relaxed."
"All of a sudden I jumped in fright. My five-year-old cousin, Nina, was walking through the hallway like a resurrected corpse—the kind that search for brains in those low-budget movies we weren’t allowed to watch—and she crashed into me as I stood before the doorway of my father’s room."
"I could pretend that I’d like to make some sly comment about the tone of her legs or the nervous but somehow sexy pout on her face as she entered my closet-sized office– it seems appropriate somehow– but the truth is I find the idea nauseating. Call me new-fashioned, but I don’t care about your legs– I just want your credits. But I digress."
"I was writing a movie script. I was taking calls about plotlines and character development in between shifts at the restaurant and singing hymns at Bible study. I was all in, as they say. I was all caught up, as it were. He wanted me to have a good time. When we walked into the lobby, a girl gave us waters with orange peels."
"Grace backed into a corner near the door to keep practicing while the rest of us paired up. Two-person juggling, otherwise known as passing, is one of the things we do best at SOPWETT. Arms up, and down, and: one, two, three, four, pass, two, three, four, pass, two, three, four, pass, two, three, four…" "
“And yes,/I still see spirits by the fireplace. A whole orgy/of voluptuous ghosts eating honey roasted peanuts.”
“wheel chair/accessible/*back entrances”
“You have/a sans-serif face; I wanna check out/your cerebrospinal fluid.”
“People bloom and divide like kaleidoscope beads around her blond yellow bead head.”
“in the cobbler I baked a part of me/was not sure you would have a piece/because I could have been//alone.”
“I’ve seen a boy go missing inside himself, so I searched for him/in cracked church bells & shot-out light bulbs.”
“She knows/how to mouth no, the shape/of her lips an opening pit…”
“& I’m tuned into/the cicadas,/wanting to join/but what part/of the body/makes a sound/so primordial”
“Who wants a body that/wants this much to be alive?”
As a child in Ohio, I only heard so much about this war. I knew that there had been suffering. I knew that Ammah was affected by it—seeing her home after almost twenty years, her birthplace, broken apart in many ways. I understood that war meant irreversible change.
When your dentist pulls the wrong tooth, you will hold your own body at a distance. When your dentist lies about it, you will question what you know to be true—you will question your own sanity. When your dentist pulls the wrong tooth, you will sob for weeks about the pattern in your life of men taking something from you and insisting that they didn’t.
Ricky brought two forty-ounce beers to the counter. Jonathan was tracing the hair of his chin strap. One day Ricky would grow facial hair like that too. He’d go even further, he’d grow a full beard and twist it into a point. He’d go wherever he liked and no one would dare kick him out.
I remember when the macro eraser was itself contested for function. That was when the poets were still employed, and they were writing poems about justice. But then poetry was erased, so they started painting about justice.
I wonder if we say we love each each other for ourselves or for the people we’re saying it to. Or if we do it because we know we’re running out of time, like we must share it for fear of never sharing it. Or if it’s just another way to say I see you. Another way to be seen.
Her name was Florida though she had never been there. Her mother really liked the name, the state too, the oranges and sunrays it conjured. One day you’re gonna visit for me and you’re gonna love it, her mother would say.
“No. I drank the oldest lake because it was either drink that or the drink the oldest sea and I’d already drank the oldest sea a few months ago…"
Early in my relationship with Justin, back when we would cut whole days of ninth grade and spend them burrowing into each other underneath bedsheets of whichever friend’s parents weren’t home that day, he’d told me that Hector had taught him how to masturbate in the fifth grade.
“She’s doing better off without us,” his father said. “It’s this guy right here that has to pick up his shovel and dig for the family.”
Did you know you can hear it? It’s the simplest thing. Adjust an old radio or analog TV; listen for the static between channels. There, nestled in the white noise between the country music station and talk radio, are the echoes of creation.
“Les escargots, s’il vous plait,” I said confidently to the waiter. “Such a tourist,” said my dinner companion once the waiter left with our orders. “Better tourist than exile,” I replied. “Better exile than stupid,” he said. You’re paying,” I said. (We ended up splitting the bill.)
Of all human experiences, loss has the most intense redness. When a hope is expelled from our bodies, grief expands within us: to us observers, everything appears to be the colour of blood.
So banished to your room, curled up against the cold metal headboard you tried re-reading an old Nancy Drew. Instead you stared at the neighbour's dog as she ran up and down the red steps at the back of their house. She was the closest thing you had to a pet.
Back in your bedroom there was still a snoutless rat and a dishwasher filled with styrofoam plates.
When my sister finds her eulogy, she’s really not impressed. And she should have been quite happy, I think, considering I managed to come up with so many nice things to say about her.
On his way to Alfie’s, Luisito stopped by the corner mart to pick up some Mickey’s. Forties on a noche like this, where the sol stays slaying skies until 8, there was nothing better.
I wait for my drink and slip into a fever dream
My memory is made consumable by your hand.
your couscous still lingering, icebound, in the freezer
The moon was so dry it turned into a dandelion.
Our state flower is wild and we are western honey bee and sunflower until sundown.
alphabet soup what were / you trying to say before
like blank eyes and forced smiles in response to microaggressions
I could crumple into you like a piece of paper folded .......into invisible hands or magnolias in late snow.
Judy had a bad habit of leaving finished drinking receptacles in her own car
“Mohammed Rasulu Allah,” (Mohammed is the messenger of God) she enunciated, giggling.
Dangle from a hook and shape-shift between noun and adjective
i am the face of asian american racial justice, a mockery composed of: displacement and internal insistence on hegemonic modes of dominance, negation, and death familiar to the geopolitical histories of asia proper.
The news is full of apocalypse. The girls are full to the brim with confidence, lightening, fear. Facebook sends me into spirals of anger and anxiety.
Sunil gazed at Buku as they lay on a small cot that looked like a hospital gurney. A thick, sturdy mattress held their light weight, resilient and resistant to their shape, never bending to the sentient beings that occupied it.
He didn’t take and the lady looked at me like time being of the essence was a foreign concept to me. I was carrying everything I owned, of course time is of the essence. If it’s not for me, it’s not for anyone.
He returns every evening at 6 p.m. and asks if she's found a job yet. She has a part-time job, but it isn’t enough. Her husband expects her to work in a respectable office and wear high heels every day. He has a fantasy of them meeting at a pub for happy hour, both of them exhausted and full of work drama. Their twin martinis escape valves, sour tonics.
Our fear, then, was that all the swag came with an expectation of high quality. We couldn’t rely on improvisation forever. So on that fourth day, Sanders cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled out to the crowd, “Does anyone have any screenwriting experience?”
I had seen Arthur around for a while, at this particular station. Whenever I was coming back from work, at night, he stood there, smoking, and whistling through his trimmed moustache.
I know these rivers that flow through me / I’ve gazed out from their hearts and still you do not see me
They were no less fragile than us, these creatures, / but they seemed better used to staring down a fast / coming death.
It’s Sugar features a giant / blond plump lips parted, sucking a lollipop
I said to my partner yesterday, I want to die. / He said do you want to go to the hospital.
Then I wait, a woman / alone, hoping / to have touched the heart / of the widower.
maybe it is time for me to write poems for You. The Somebody Else. / i need to find a way to eat what comes out of me. The Wonder
CREW: (From the grid) It’s sweet that you think you / can break the fourth wall.
The horse stood trembling, had caught his leg in a toothed snare intended for the fox, / and she limped
you can take the boy / but the heckie naw stays / announcing his nation
white woman says that i would look so beautiful if only i took the time to straighten my hair
My priestess fries her perfect / eggs-in-a-nest: a seeping well, / saturating seams of crust.
At the duplicating center I work for, sometimes customers will leave behind important legal or personal documents
it was like in that moment, / the demon crawled out / of my chest to set a colorless fire / to my face and said believe her
I’m eleven or twelve, the oldest grandchild. I’ve lingered with the grownups. My mother asks me to clear. I stack two or three plates at a time, walk them into the kitchen. Then butter dish, bread basket, serving dishes, silver.
I was nineteen when I first heard the artist Cat Power. A friend had put the song “Nude as the News” on a mix tape, and I listened to it over and over. Sometimes this meant I’d fast forward the tape until I found the song. Other times, I’d listen to the whole mix just to get there.
As a young girl, I did really well in school. But at every parent-teacher conference, the same thing was always said, every year, from every single teacher, to my mother: she’s a good student but she doesn’t talk enough. Sometimes, more specifically: she needs to ask more questions.
What’s your weirdest poop story? I ask K while we’re eating seven-layer dip, watching Lady Gaga swing from buildings at the Superbowl. When K was young she used to pick up every poop she made. She would study its consistency, roll the stool between her hands like clay, toss it back and flush.
IT HAS BEEN 70 YEARS SINCE EVA BRAUN WAS INCINERATED ALONG WITH HER UNDERWEAR MARIAN RYAN She takes the U-Bahn across town to visit
I used my mom’s pink razor to shave my leg because I was too afraid to use Dad’s black one. I sat in the tub running warm water over my smooth calf. It was beautiful. That night, I rubbed my leg against my sheets until the pleasure of it was overwhelming.
I keep the postcard with me, and I let my grief travel.
It is February in Minneapolis, a month of frozen mud and sodden wings, except now oddly warm enough, it rains an iron rain. My wife, Christi drives. Her tires sluice. Exhausted windshield wipers perform accidental beauty; the patterns they leave fracture our light.
We walk past the old tenement where Anya’s great-aunt still lives, claiming the hole she tore in the world. Imagine if we all moved into Columbia Presbyterian! Someone probably has.
What does this say about me? Except for that I don’t mind pain, enduring pain, so long as it’s in view of others.
Jacob was trying to be alone with the alligator when his mother called him into the house for dinner. His mother didn’t know a thing about it; she didn’t even know the difference between an alligator and a crocodile.
In high school Marian said to me about my favorite author, George Eliot. “Isn’t that just an old British man?” smiling like her mouth was a knife.
Witches and wannabes, way too many drugs. Day three without sleep and you're psychotic for real. Then it’s like the song—we’re waiting for our man.
He was my husband, but I called him dog. When he returned from the woods each passing dawn, from wherever it is that wild things go, he would whimper and scratch at the door.
I’m fairly certain no one has been struck by lightning in the shower in the last fifty years, since water pipes
A house is an organism, Earth is an organism. These are more than just metaphors, I will think months later when I get the call from Kristen that Dad isn’t expected to survive the night.
I would like to be romantic and call my eight-month stay in Paris a personal exile from Trump, but I moved because I’m a coward.
Not all clouds is something I might add, as a postscript, not all clouds
ma said don’t touch don’t scratch don’t
you can return to masonry / be a gavel
At sixteen, she’s still new to this nation that un-names her daily.
trying to contain expansion means explosion
Our son will have solar flare / freckles splattered on his cheeks
I cannot take what isn’t a gift. Socket, Stiff dance, misdeed, a half intelligible embrace.
My mother always laughs / when she tells that story.
I call you Ella from your very beginning
yellow almonds, middle eastern eyes
the women did not flee Mosul because they became of wings
I told father and things came flowing out of our red front door
Ghosts are like our otherselves in the multiverses grown