Kenji Liu

 “Golden”

 

Golden
For Hattori Yoshihiro

 

Ruffled chest wrapped
in disco gold, in pyrite chains
and tuxedo boogie. Ah, ha, ha, ha.
Painted with the fever of burning
lights, wings of heaven on your shoes.

The republic of meat hosts
this Saturday dance. Wants to
embroider notes in your frame,
wants to pluck the tendons
and tender fibers of you.

Reversal of numbers.
Your suspicious protein splayed
to the butcher’s eye, how strange
its fibrous pieces, dangling scraps
before him. Ah, ha, ha, ha.

And how unpalatable your meat
to his homeowner’s heart.
Feel the city breaking, his revolver
tattooing, tarnishing the night.
Ah, ha, ha, ha.
Ah, ha, ha, ha.

 


Kenji Liu

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Lindsay Tigue

E-How

 

How does a network connect?
How will a train cross the country?
How can I know here what you know there?
Why must we know? What
do we know? Where does a train go
when it disappears in a mountain?
What is it like inside mountains?
Who answers my questions?
If I have a cough, a fever, and itchy elbows,
what does this mean?
What do I have if I have fifty-two dollars
in quarters, two Canadian pennies,
an overdue library book?
After the invention of telephones,
what was it like to speak with familiar
voices so many miles away?
When I type into the url bar,
why do I always forget where I’m going?
How does it work tin-can operator? What
is on the other end of these keys?
Why can’t all exits be formal—
a train pulling away, a person
left at the station, an arm
frozen mid-wave?

 


Neighbors 

X
Somewhere, in this building, a baby is crying.
Can you hear that? I ask you. I wake you at night.
One time, I heard that sound in the woods
behind my parent’s house. You said, maybe a fox,
maybe a rabbit in distress. Did it sound like a woman
screaming? you asked. My cat’s cries sound human.
Six hours he wailed after I picked him up, brought him
home in the car to Chicago. Some people
dislike cats, babies. I think I might love
someone kind. I don’t know the neighbors.
Somewhere, in this building, a woman is screaming.
My cat perks his ear toward the sound. Can you hear that?
I ask you. I wake you at night.

 


Lindsay Tigue

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Heather Bowlan

Visible Future

 

The day I finally hallucinate we’re at M’s studio in Venice –
before I get married and she moves to the East Side, before I tell her
my lusty secrets better kept to nights in a solitary bed.

The room is crowded, five of us draped on the futon, on the floor,
not much of her prized cross-breeze coming through the kitchen windows
to the screen door. Hot and still, like a museum and we all sit around
looking at each other waiting for a profound thought to ignite
in our heads, twist through our limp bodies.

Looking to make SoCal sense of it I escape to the patio,
stare at the neighbor’s stucco wall, and will color, the carnival I was promised,
to burst out of the ridges. But what reveals itself: a map
some ghost is taking the time to scrawl, a trail I can’t quite follow, the geography
of laughter spilling over the wall from the party next door.

Or a line drawn from here to where the cool water begins –
I could take M with me and watch the soft chill roll up her arms
when she eases herself in.

I know the map is there, if I could trace it across the rough beige, but it disappears
as I find it, brightness circles my vision, the heat evaporates the fresh ink,
twists the warmth of breath into the smoke of M’s cigarette – a wispy
Virginia Slim. She’s come to tell me someone’s trip’s turned bad,
and when she disappears inside I follow – not ready for our sad winding

down, a mumbled New Year’s toast, her cold eyes in the bar,
the last morning I’ll wake up to the sun and new lines in her face.

 


Heather Bowlan

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Joseph Rios

Sigue Siendo El Rey or A King in Los Angeles
After Rafael Cardenas

 

Don Fausto found his way back to the city
after the drought hit Dinuba real hard.
Since then, he’s been chasing work
thru passenger side windows out in
Highland Park. Today he found some
good wages. That’s why the vato’s so happy.
You can hear ’em from here, all loud.
Or maybe you can’t from over there.
I’ll tell you, Fausto just let off the pedal some
and he’s playing Norteñas from his backpack.
The chain around the gears stays put, but
the bearings still click and the wheels
spin fast as he glides through downtown.
That homie’s singing, man, singing for reals.
His tejana hasn’t slipped once; I don’t know what’s
holding it down. No shit, that viejo’s singing good too.

 


Joseph Rios

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Joe Jiménez

Allegory of the Rattlesnake

 

1
Under sun, in debris: a cascabel hums its whole nautilus
of fangdom and scales, a harmony.

But it came for us, we said. We heard, and we’d heard:
ooooooThey can come for you. They will lash out. Anima:
oooooopain. And when it came—

As demon. As menace, as monolith, They as Goliath.

Everything we heard about rattlesnakes: the cascabel
made of God but less godly
oooooothan us—

 

2
Understand this: Anyone can suffer.

 

3
In my most Mexican self, I understand the sun built a fire, for He once was a God
who said: the body cannot be dispensed
00000with unless I allow it. So I kneel
and show the sun my throat and hope He can fathom me whole.
00000I’d suckle obsidian for a chance at wholeness.
00000But ardor. But fear. Ayotzinapa. But prayer. Ferguson like Juarez.

 

4
Until I learn to unlove the systems that make me.
Until I hold a man in my mouth like a mouse or a cricket, a white moth, or a hare.

 

5
It is no surprise. We refute the wholeness
of those we believe will do us harm.

He deserved it, we said.
Look at the shit he’d done.

Had it coming, some of us agreed.

 

6
Because fear is not an accident.

 

The ego of hissing. The bravado that is blabbering. The cascabel’s teat-pink suit, its fang wilt
and coil. The fiasco of scales and long rope.

Under debris, in sun: my body and his, yours and hers—
on asphalt, on hillsides, in trash heaps, in rivers, in fires in a great desert
anywhere in the world—

 


Joe Jiménez

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