Headless

Headless but not heartless.
Where do you keep your teeth?
 
Hold them in the breath between breaths,
In the home that is no longer.
And there let them gnaw
Until the shell that is left
Rings a chord so transparent
It barely makes a sound.
 
Scatter them in the tall grass
Green and alive with spring
Find them again in autumn
Bring their fruits to reap.
 
Ball them up in your fists
And there let them sink
To bite the palm of all
The hands who try to hold you.
Let every man learn
Exactly what beast you are.
 
Leave them in your neighbor’s yard
The one with whom you never speak.
Let them chew down walls and fences
And onto pavement creep.
 
Lock them in that darkest cave
The pit you call  a heart.
Leave them at your parents’ graves
Filled with bone and far apart.
 
Burn them with filthy locks
Of hair from all your lovers
Strand them in the empty space
Between you and what you are.

Bury them in your children’s names
And when they suckle:
Teach them how to bite.
 
We devour our parents.
We devour our children.
But where do we keep our teeth?

 

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The Consequences of Tiananmen

The China Girls

Goddess of Democracy Built by students, the 33′ high Goddess of Democracy was built assembled in Tiananmen Square on the night of May 29-30. Shelley found this picture in a shoebox.

The words “惊天” (today) are blocked on Weibo right now. Because we all know what today is. If you’re on this blog, you know what today is. Even the least attentive have been counting down to it while going about our daily lives. And now, the time has finally come to take stock, 25 years later.

My entire life has been lived in the looming presence of the Tiananmen Massacre, but I didn’t understand that until I grew up. It’s not just my life, either. All of China lives there, in the shadow of it. The current regime constantly fights to censor it and keep it suppressed, but even where the Party line succeeds you can still see it from the…

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For Mom

For Mom

Suting

I promise to try and not let the loss of you heavy my steps. Instead, I will find freedom in your freedom. I miss you. You are near me now, but so fast disappearing. You are the glimmer of white in the distance, the sweetness of the ache in my chest. I love you. Pale blossom: your fragrance is sweet even as it leaves me, like a vanishing trace of angels. I thank you for my life itself.

—March 23, 2013

 

This was for Mom. I wrote it last year, but I never posted it here. Today, it seemed appropriate.

Correspondence and the City

Dear Couple on the Subway,

It’s cute that you’re so into each other. Really. At least someone has found love in this cesspit, right? But it’s Thursday morning on the commuter express train and you two are making out like teenagers. Which you are not, and have not been for a few years, possibly even a decade—I’m not sure because I didn’t get a good look at your faces. However, I can hear your faces: the adorable puckering sounds, the wet suction of lip to lip contact. And I can feel you. I don’t mean that on some metaphorical level. I mean I literally feel your bodies with my body because we are that close to each other. Continue reading

Mild-Mannered Night

night shot 2

A few weeks ago, West Village penthouse

I love the mild-mannered night
Who treats me cordially, without slight.
She stoops down, so we walk together,
Like blue-brown birds of a feather.
She brushes my arm and smiles a smile
That gleams like a moon-lit mile
Of sharpened beer-bottle glass.
For in her still, Winter lingers
And its Stygian fingers
Still seek to clasp.

But Spring laughs–
Like fairy claps
A mild sound,
Full of round nouns
And dew-drop crowns
Woven of polymer-fiber dusk,
Slowly turning the sky to rust.

Continue reading

Wanderlust

Wanderlust

Hear the chimes, did you know that the wind when it blows
It is older than Rome and all of this sorrow
See the new Pyramids down in old Manhattan
From the roof of a friend I watched an empire ending
Heard it loud and long, the river’s song
Time marching on, to a mad man’s drum

—Bright Eyes, “Cleanse Song”

Some days I wonder if the world has become too small for us to bear.

It’s spring break, and by all rights I should be out of the city and off to fairer pastures. But by my own failings, I’m still here. I’ve barely left the apartment, even. I haven’t gotten anything constructive done. It’s just unusual that I have the opportunity to travel without taking it. I am a wanderer at heart.

It’s something my parents instilled in me with childhood trips abroad. I was seven, the first time I met my homeland, and in my head it’s still an exotic place. I was nine when we went to Italy, a blur of crumbling buildings and ostentatious churches. At ten, eleven, twelve it was Hong Kong, Taiwan, Geneva.

It comes from my high school years half-lived out on other continents, always moving. As a consequence, I feel at home in any hotel room. My heart beats to the rhythm of the road. Continue reading

When It’s Spring and the Ground is Stirring

When It’s Spring and the Ground is Stirring

I remember living sometimes, when it’s spring and the ground is stirring. I remember people—their footsteps hard against the packed earth. I remember mornings of flower blossoms and seeing girls out in their summer clothes, just slightly too soon. This is life: a fleeting progression from youth to age, just slightly too soon. It’s all we have. And yet, and yet…

It’s not that I wish for more. I abhor the slow track. Spring is the dying time in my mind. It is the heartbreaking loneliness. It is the bitterness of retreat. But that’s not true: what I’m picturing is protracted winter, instead. Like the winters when my parents left me. The ones that meandered into April and then May. Continue reading