here I go curating myself on the internet again.
clouds and balloons. stupid photos stacked
mercilessly next to one another, black hair shiny
& teeth tucked neatly into my gums. I want to be
respected. I want to be cherished. please respond
to my texts about the moon. please savor each strand
of my greasy, thinning hair. some day I will grow old
and silver like the rounded edge of a spoon. some day
I will flip a pillow, say TODAY IS GOOD then roll
over in my bed like an overcooked beet. I am
tender if I want to be. I am hopeful when I have
a joke to tell. say the word jellyfish watch it slow
dance slow dance. my tongue goes airy. drizzle, flick.
on a good morning I demand oatmeal for breakfast.
I like it best with fat raisins and vitamin D milk.
let’s toast pumpkin seeds. let’s hold hands. but
know this: I will not pretend to like your dog. I am not
attracted to your hands snagging a fish, its mouth begging
the air for another breath, pink-lit & pulsing O, oh.
are you hungry? I’ll bake you cookies. three sticks
of butter, store brand. I won’t give myself away
and glide, glide. a girl is not a kite. a girl is not
a flyaway hair, a funny tickle at the back of your throat.
a girl with thumbs to text across a screen says GOOD
says HOW says JELLYFISH. please laugh.
a clock is precious and so is my mouth.
I hydrate myself in the mornings,
the GOOD mornings when my phone screen
is black yet my body is full & glinting with sugar, with
pixels of light. I curve myself towards a window
humming some song about herds or basketball
hoops while the wind ruffles me up, turns my hair
into a flag, swinging me on, on,
coopless in my glory, boundless in my solo
shiny widening self.

CARLINA DUAN is the author of the poetry collection I WORE MY BLACKEST HAIR (Little A, 2017). She holds an M.F.A from Vanderbilt University, and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in English & Education at the University of Michigan. She has a sweet tooth. Find her online at, or on Twitter @ccduan.