scatter

this is how we change–nautilus chamber, spokes of a wheel
some passion i don’t speak about. i see the growth curl, i see
it siphoning water and glory, i see its breath as it breaks through
the gutter and reaches towards the sky–my waist expands rotted
wood and i feel tendrils of myself steadying, then sinking, then
sinking. peat-moss fingers on me–i kiss them as i would the muzzle
of my lover’s gun and dose myself just to be sure–hazy smoke-filled
thought these days leaves me nostalgic for the past and angry about
what happened then, all those wrongs adding, multiplying, staggering
the numbers–just when i think i will tear you key from key you hit
depressed ivory notes and i can feel the terror in them, the quiet
hatred and the laughing crow and the white egret and the great
blue heron all become one sinuous figure in my mind, a summation
of all the greatest parts of my life–a raindrop staining a window that
you turn from when you hear someone call your name down a hall
in a house that is torn bit by ragged bit from my memory, until all
the edges are worn–i remember who has died and who has remained
and wonder who is the better for it. the sunglint is too much–it blinds
me with its radiant angle, its disastrous glare in the rearview of my
youth, and the sparksun becomes a single point of light–i press it
into your hand, then scatter.

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meditations in panama

i sit with my back straight out of habit
not learned from school, which didn’t
teach me much except how to fit an
entire sonnet on the toe of my converse
sneaker in sharpie, how to feint & dodge
and faint & be dislodged to finally settle
in my own ire. my knees have been giving
out on me lately, locking like a canal where
i could see myself rise and set in the same
day over and over again, an unearthly clock-
work bound by laws of science which
fascinated the both of us, but we could
spend our lives theorizing about quantum
existence and it wouldn’t really change
anything, not the way we fight or make
love or read about new developments in
technology, which still hasn’t gotten
anything right about love, and probably
never will.

4am

waiting for the day to break in to something more,
i curry addiction with broken-fingered resignation
to leave this dilated sphere sooner than anyone might
have imagined. in the darkness that curls around me
like the underside of a leaf, i am as safe as i might
be inside plato’s cave, making shadow puppets on the
walls. i think about my father who i don’t visit but
look for in every older man i meet, how i never
measure up in ways small and large, from not being
able to roll a cigarette to not being a good daughter,
and how i don’t find myself relating to my old music
anymore, how angst has been replaced by the kind of
reluctant complacency that one gets from growing old,
how beauty needs to be pointed out to me like staring
at a painting for a long time and not seeing how many
different shades of green there are. everything just
looks grass-green, waiting to be cut by the lawnmower,
a monoculture half-obscured by the blindness of an
aching fatigue that grows with every passing year.
in the shower, i notice the veins roping along the
backs of my hands, and i want to cut them out with
a razor, string them around my neck to show proof
of how hard i work to be loved, but a coin under the
tongue is not enough fare, and i will be stranded
on the banks for all of eternity with a full pack of
cigarettes and a lighter empty of fluid.

birthday poems

i.
i live in the chronicles of tree rings
a forest all cut down with 29 markings.

ii.
(on this fourth day of the eighth month,
one day before some girl
heaved me out me of her onto the ashes
nearly three decades ago)
the lion burns in the sky–
i burn on the ground.

iii.
as my origins are speculative at best,
i sometimes wonder if i am purely korean
if being so yellow or so white is just a projection
i can remember being happy when i was twelve–
that makes me part cicada.

iv.
he says it’s a lie, that the mother bird
won’t take the baby bird back
once it’s been touched by human hands
i don’t google it, afraid of knowing
whether or not i can go home
after what human hands have done to me.

v.
my small pale life,
how i try so hard to be happy with it.

vi.
i simply stopped reading fiction
when i could no longer bear
the truths that lay within it–
in reality, it is so much easier to lie.

vii.
i am not a half looking for another half to make me whole.
i am looking to be a whole unto myself.
i need to remember this.

viii.
it does not matter if we are the makers of the dream–
we forget our dreams, and so we forget ourselves.
you find me in the morning, bruised and exorcised of sleep–
my lips are left somewhere between the scab of sky
and the dead buried beneath us–
the rest of my face lost somewhere between your palms.
we are subsumed in the grief of our aging bodies,
but are learning to laugh without the shame of youth.