you know you want this.

5 poems


there’s all these dead frogs

on the sidewalk, wrinkled like dried

plums. I’ve stepped over at least five

bodies, I want to write their story.

there’s also lots of duck

poo, piles of slaughtering. maybe

I just have too high of expectations

these days. maybe

I’ve seen too many good

things to know

any better.




on the way home from ice skating lessons , we’d listen

to Natalie cole sail over a paper moon, and I dreamed

I had a black voice

like vinyl ripple rocky road, the ice

was a cardboard sea that I bent with the blades

of my feet into two lines, and I recited

nester’s speech in greek for literature class

as I lifted one leg in the air, my ankle bleeding—

maenen aeda thea. my goddess…

sometimes I would sing and make myself believe

I was as good as Natalie cole in seventh grade,

that I was this prodigy, like how when charlotte

church first sang on tv, my mother cried,

and she’s only 18! I frowned,

I’m only eight and I can sing as good as her,

I said. And so I sang.


narcissists have no perspective, only experience—

I never learned greek, only what our teacher

made us memorize. I didn’t continue skating

lessons. I was scared my ankle

would bleed again.




confessions from the kitchen trashcan


I threw away the ginger.

the coconut was fermented, and the ranbutans

withered like old women in shells, the smell

of time passing, I don’t like to acknowledge

expiration dates, but I end up avoiding

the shrimp that you gave me, forgetting

to put it in the fridge until now.


in the cafeteria, we ate from banana

leaves, licking our fingers because rice

this sweet is hard to come by. I eat

the coconut flakes from ziplock bags, and imagine

the charcoaled smoke, how your mother

makes these things in the garage, or snuck them

between the folds of her dress in the suitcase, you

can only get this flavor at home.


you’re too kind to me, and I play dress up, following along

as if I understand the nuances between th and d, but my skin

is still splotched pink like spoiled peaches, your mother

makes extra pho and packs it in a Tupperware for me, the American

girl who eat Viet food.


the seaweed cakes get hard and soggy in the microwave,

and I try to eat the egg dumplings, imagining your mother’s

hands, scraping the last of the rice from the cooker,

how undeserving I am of this blessing, but the moment is gone,

the home flavor has dissipated like a dream on the tip

of my tongue, where was I? who was I, and who

were you? again, we are inAmerica.


some things cannot reheat, no, only fresh.




gladiator camp


in high schoolitaly, we were sent

to gladiator camp with our crazy lit

teacher who kept trying to pretend

she was our friend or something.


the attractive bus driver

stephano brought us to the place where

the buildings tapered off, a dirt alley where the dogs

chased us, barking on chains. andiamo, the tour


guide said. there was barbed-

wire. she told us, this is a very popular

tourist place, and we added in our minds,

to get mugged.


a boy in a toga introduced himself in Italian

as a gladiator. I couldn’t look at him, too

embarrassed. It’s like he was naked. we were brought

into a deflated circus tent. like all things roman, it seemed

tired of being antique. inside, made-in-china

artifacts, a girl mannequin with a pasted on after thought

moustache, dressed in armor, and a look of dread.


in English Italian crossbreed sign

language, we walked into a dirt ring with wooden

fencing,  where toga boy tossed pinafores and wooden

swords, taught us like maoist zombies to identify parts

of the body as we attacked in clear English:




for completing our training, we were given apricot

juice boxes and certificates in Italian-latin hybrid

with our names mistyped. I think I used mine

as a table mat. or threw it in a file somewhere

where I can’t find it.



I am a goat


my high school art teacher told us

that to sell art, you need to paint cows

or dingees, or cows on dingees.

one time, she tried painting

goats but didn’t work out. I think, too,

poems can only revolve around dogs

or birds, or dogs that become

birds, or maybe something more gentle

like butter-

flies. but seriously, do you know

how many poems are named “the dog”?

more than there should be. I want to write

a poem about the goats that were painted

but no body bought; those poor

goats—or maybe I’ll write

about how all of you are cows, and I am

the lone goat, riding on a dingee,

singing salvation.


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