April 2020

My youngest chosen family member and I walk through a deserted city park. They are thirteen; we’ve lived together since they were two. “I haven’t been here before,” they say, gesturing at the tall cedars around us. “You have. You just don’t recognize the park without people.” “Have you ever seen anything like this happen before?” they ask. “This” meaning the COVID 19 pandemic. ‘What have I seen before’ is a routine inquiry of theirs. A few questions that I particularly remember them asking: Did a kid from your school ever go missing? (yes; I’ll never forget her.) Have you ever felt scared to go to a party? (fuck yes; let’s brainstorm coping skills for social anxiety.) Did you have a girlfriend in high school? (sort of; I had a secret in high school.) This question, though, about COVID 19 is the first time I tell them “no.” I’ve never seen anything like this. I have no anecdotes or experiential advice to comfort them with. Another first, the first that troubles me more, is that our conversation doesn’t veer into “what if” thinking. Speculating possibilities—strategic, fantastic or comedic—has been our go-to for years. For example, what if you could turn invisible at parties? We walked the remainder of the fern-lined path in silence. Maybe poetry can fill the gap in our conversation? Speculative poetry can voice the most horrific and redemptive “what if” thoughts. Speculative poetry isn’t short on words to describe how our realities are always shifting.

Hell Pigs

Hell Pigs
Entelodontidae

Top pitch squeal,
jaws mashed,
and cheekbones sculpted
so deadly.

On National Geographic
they said
“Battle-tank body…
bear-pig-hyena.”

You were a hybrid
before science
was making DNA fluffs
into hypoallergenic pets.

But you were
no one anyone
would have wanted
to take home.

No living relatives
now. It was just you
living in extinct hell.

Worse than regular hell,
full of only the most obscure
ragged beasts. Hardcore, so metal.

Omnivore’s dilemmas:
Are you eating plants or meat?
Are you a football player?

Smashing your oblong body
into predators. An attacker
attempting to score points.

But in the end, somehow
not tough enough, aggression
is not resilience for survival.

notes towards a body II

Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 9.05.20 AM.png

i am remembering the time i was not yet born

when there was no such thing as time

and no such thing as remembering

 

no, i am wrong

i remember, but not through memory

 

here in an image of being not yet in this world

a floating, bouncing, jumping shape, closer to cyborg than human

a pixelated mass where i am a life of something else

of dancing lights without body

in a cramped, unfamiliar, freezing space

which could be purgatory, limbo, nowhere

everywhere

 

this couldn’t be me

this being couldn’t

 

i can no longer feel her. i ignore her as she always available yields

mother, forgotten by a surge of inhumanity:

the one person who could know unconditional love so well

who could be my body of compassion

yields to forgottenness

 

i, waiting to be born, become remembered

solely by a frozen image of a frozen time

of the not-yet-born

of the still-being-born

of the still-being- and the stillborn

 

of a still life in portrait

longing for body

Natural Selection

Technicians in lab coats predict
our family’s extinction. Squatters
in the uterus grow fat on estrogen
and wasted space; a skeptical chamber
tips away. What did Darwin know
that we don’t? What chromosomal
frailty backtracks here? Birds with two
beaks. Monkeys without tails.

Fortunes told, we are free to risk,
eat out-of-date seafood, careen
without seat belts. We swim
immediately after dinner, wash
pension money at the blackjack table,
open umbrellas indoors. We dress
the dog in foot pyjamas and smooth
his worried brow. We turn out

cupboards, tip drawers, roll rotting
logs, scrabble to rocks and wait
the night where the sea leaves life
in pools, certain we’ve lost something.
We try the 7-Eleven, the skate park, troll
gum-cracking girls and hooded boys
on dirt bikes for your father’s eyes,
my mother’s one turn of phrase.

Letter to Longing

-Written for Hong Kong, during the protests of 2019



Tonight my bones are longing
for the soil.

                                                                           I have called this 金山
                                                                           home for twenty-four years.


Tonight my feet want to drum
these streets awake,

                                                                           to make this feel something
                                                                           like home.


Tonight we cling to survival as if
it is the only thing in the world

                                                                           we have always known;
                                                                           our destiny lies.


Tonight our blood wakes
to rebellion

                                                                           in the way a body adapts to being
                                                                           starved of freedom.


Tonight we love each other
in a language in danger of being eaten—

                                                                          a mouth will hold worlds
                                                                          to keep us alive.


Tonight the soil is longing
for our bones

                                                                          like a lonely lover
                                                                          at dusk, you will hear us singing



                                              she is fragrant
                                               and this is home.

potatoes

my yt grandma once asked me who do you think you are, the Queen of Sheba? why yes yt grandma I do believe I’m a hawt biblical queen of colour wreaking havoc and generally causing a ruckus because unlike you I dreamed beyond this town this river valley this province this nation state this gender

but it’s not all her fault she was constantly reminding me not to get too big for my britches cuz she was born and raised in a time when women didn’t wear pants, like, she didn’t wear pants until her 70s and I don’t remember her in a dress after my mom got her to try pants. my yt grandma was someone you’d want around when the apocalypse that yt people keep making movies about gets here, although the apocalypse is already here. you’d want her around because for decades she grew all the food she ate except sugar, coffee, and flour. planted seeds, tended plants, ate of the harvest. since she was in single digits, helping her fam in the fields, bragged by her father to be “strong as an ox.” I haven’t contributed to the growing of food that I eat since I was a child and when I did it was with my yt grandma.