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.

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bones

it’s good when the bones show,
her fingers say to me as they dig into my clavicle

she vivisects me
and holds me up to the light
scraping my ribs bare

i will (shop)lift the dirt from your body,
she promises.

and my bones will bleach to the purest white,
a shade still too dark for her,

not by the sun,
but by her pelvic bone that curves like a knife,
her words that cut to the marrow.