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
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.
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:
HEAD. NECK. STOH-MAAAAAHK.
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
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,