The Joy and Terror are Both in the Swallowing

“These leaping, elliptical poems are darkly funny and full of pluck and verve. The speakers of these poems keeps one eye on the terrarium of contemporary life while keeping the other eye on watch for blink-and-you'll-miss-it death. Here is a hero expressive of desires absurd yet essential: ‘I want my death to be comfortable and homey, but also victorious and sexy like a pack of half-naked men riding wild animals.’ Throughout, Hou's bold lyric gives way to sections of ‘The Lost Haikus,’ haikus which dot the white pages like small ponds in which we bear witness to transcendent auguries. ‘Clarity,’ Hou writes, ‘is a moment of madness unravelling in real time in a public space,’ much like these poems tracing the ‘obedient’ geography of a life caught between the urban and the unknown—I joyfully rode along, as if on my own feral creature.”

—Diana Khoi Nguyen, author of Ghost Of

Senna Loves Her Car Seat More Than She Loves The Trees

I want to live a country life in this big city

I want to want to have sex again

To feel my organs labor inside their cardboard boxes

I wander aimlessly down the aisles of a department store

In hopes of discovering a magic formula to keeping myself young and attractive

Tiny organs strapped into car seats await travel to fantastical places

Cars in friendly neighborhoods drive around in circles until they fall apart

I fall in love with a blouse on sale the color of a forest

Where wings that once were elbows hang guilelessly from trees

Blue Desert

One person believes in torture While another person does not

A believer always wins A non-believer does not

Every day piles of pebbles are being tortured beneath the sun Every day a desert remains intact

Every day you do the best for your health You do your best to keep your body alive

Pounding is a part of it Feelings of irrelevance are at the heart of it

You go searching for a flirtatious encounter When the smog clears, instant arousal

Love is two-fold, but it could also be more You want more, but that is a luxury

You want so badly that you cannot fall asleep You drink a sleeping potion to help you sleep

You dream you are in a town with blue hills You eat at a foreign restaurant

You are wearing a blue dress patterned with daisies In the dream you are a little girl

You have no choice but to act like a little girl You are eating a peach

You are holding tightly onto a string that is tied to the sun You let go of the string and feel separation anxiety

Then you wake up alone in a room You are one pebble in a pile of pebbles

You imagine yourself as a boulder And bask in the afternoon sun


When I am tired I lay my head down in a tunnel to rest It is not possible to live your best Life in a tunnel Even if there are holes punctured Along the sides of it Holes designed for children to look out into the world A way of compartmentalizing abstract thoughts That are small enough to fIt In the palm of my hand What is the difference between a trowel and this here, toy trowel? What does it mean to be more adult-like? Digging into our beliefs can help us stay committed to our morals when the fight gets bleak When my daughter grows tired she lays her head down in a tunnel to rest She is so small that she could stand upright inside of it While for me it is just another crawlspace The difference between me and my daughter is size and money and hormones Giving money away because it feels good can be described as philanthropy I could purchase this land with my two hands any day of the week