Three Dimensional

I kept thinking of what I would’ve said

the day I almost told him. I saw from the way his eyes

transmuted that my brother was not one

to tolerate irregularities, nor to understand how running away

from my body was more beautiful than his acts

of blasphemy. And in the end I could only tell him this,

 

the way light came at me in sine waves 3am this

April morning. I felt sorry for my brother, who said

sleeplessness was destructive, an act

of irresponsibility magnetizing eyes

into black holes that suck away

ceilings. My brother was the only one

 

that cared about our well-being; one

evening gazing at the chandelier he told me this

scheme of forgetting, of doing away

with my disease that bothered him more than he said

it did. My brother, prone to forgetting, did not realize my eyes

were the only parts of his body that helped with my acting

 

the part of a disguiser. The way our lives were divided reminded me of acts

in an absurdist play, cyclical, inconsequential like the one

hamster we raised and let die. Burial day my mouth watered, eyes

turned geometric with rage feeling this

colorful earth vibrate and diffuse into our bodies. I said

to myself it was time to step away

 

from my brother. It was unethical to take away

his identity whenever I wanted to, acting

as if he had another to live in like he said

he did. Perhaps one day my mind will touch my body, my skin one

with the universe we curated. Staring down the ceiling this

dirty morning with loose-fitting skin and eyes

 

dripping black waters, eyes

the color of defeat too one-dimensional to look away

from, I tore my belly open knowing this

is where I belong. It is not a personal choice to be born into acting.

I wrapped my hair around my thighs around my spine to pretend I am one

thing only. I filled my bellybutton with my tongue saying

 

there are vertical asymptotes in my thinking, this

matter has to be approached three-dimensionally. My brother said

it was a matter of time. His index finger tells him I will be one.

the way we drink it

The first time we drank it

the incense cut our throats raw, diffused

up a concentration gradient of

sawdust & gaseous disease as she

said to me, tongue purple & jiggling:

“Under the dying sun our faces were

a shade of iron comparable to rain.”

She wrapped her little finger around

mine that were elongated by

the illusion that we engulfed

between lunch breaks & our upper lips.

She touched it with her tongue, gave birth to it

brooding beneath pale eyes & black

warring teeth. They disagreed often

but were loyal to her heart.

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Outlanders

This is what i think about

palpitating under 2 am peace and steady cement:

Between the newspaper office

and home by a ceremonial mountain

is a place called summer; our skin liquifies

every time we trespass in floral ties and birth certificates

umbrella-blessed against harsh winds or sunshine.

we have a way of protecting ourselves,

dematerializing the way stars do against nights of neon and insomnia

stars fading like dreams of outlanders

severed, misplaced, lost to the winds of an oceanic summer—

and we, glassy-eyed and lovestruck

with sick humor and ceremony, lose our sleep

by the hooks of our noses.

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Spring Views–a translation

I translated one of my favorite Chinese poems–Chun Jing (Spring Views) by Su Shi. Here’s the original poem:

 

花褪残红青杏小。燕子飞时,绿水人家绕。枝上柳绵吹又少,天涯何处无芳草

墙里秋千墙外道。墙外行人,墙里佳人笑。笑渐不闻声渐悄,多情却被无情恼。

Blooms fade as apricots sprout. Swallows spread wings, green waters entwine village houses. Catkins of willows taken by wind, to the end of the earth divine grasses abound.

Mirth within walls heard by those without. Pedestrian pauses, inside the maiden laughs. Laughter fades and no sound comes, sentimentality thwarted by the unsuspecting girl.

It’s impossible to capture the beauty of this poem in translation. The rhythm and much of the imagery is lost.

 

Summer

It is the third time this year

summer aged for her,

every night for eighty-four nights

golden dreams reincarnate

as the hours relive

and we count with our fingers

with fatigue, not pity.

 

For even as her lips stretch wide

she is glistening with the sweat

of labor and heart disease, her

empty hair and amber teeth shredding

stream-like into bighearted bouquets

open for age only.

 

Now we stand by

with nimble eyes without words

We save our condolences

for her funeral in a summer evening:

Her body, hairless head and all

will lose its last color

shielded in white linen in vain

against summer invasions

And before she returns elemental

to her mother, we will adorn

her celestial eyes with colorless kisses

and pray

for the death of summer.

 

Removal

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We remember her

by the eyes only, two

three dimensional black holes

of blood and bad dreams diluted

we hold them with our teeth the way

she used to hold her tongue

with her lips her

shrinking lips for she had a way

 

of shortening them, the upper petals

diminished

in poor taste, I said. But she never

listened to me with her

starlet dreams and starlit breath emanating

 

betrayal and I

my eyes double-folded my cheeks

burning with displacement and shame

thrust my paws through the heart

of her disease. I never failed

to remind her

of a dying mother.

Sleep talk

That girl, I said you here, you look like my cousin. I said this as I drew her down on a piece of scrap she ripped out of a drawing book. She had a mole slanted down her nose and her upper lip was full, and when she smiled it didn’t curl but there you could see the incomplete set of teeth underneath. Some flipped and some lost, and beneath a full under lip the ends reaching all the way to her dimples. She barely had dimples anyway. The sides of the cheeks were smeared red by dryness, and above the eyes shimmered a bit like dark peas. Her eyelashes were not long but the brows tilted an arc softly not blackly a light express colour. You could just look at her and wonder how come her hair is held in a ponytail and a yellow hoop and the hair still flies around the forehead blocking the eyes and an arc of a brow. Then there were her ears, sticking out like I propped them this way. I just lined these onto the paper, and she smiled, and the dry smeared cheeks bobbed but the chin was still skinny and round, and then she remembered her teeth and stopped. When she stopped her shoulders looked small, and her neck looked too thin for her feet. When I went away she cried so I hugged her. And I and her shoulders were too small I had to fold my arms two folds around to get back to myself, and it got all twisted so they just lifted me up away with my arms left tangled. Then I went away to eat. When I finished eating she was there again with the boy with a bicycle who never listened who caught the first pair of red eyes today. That boy had long hair sticking like her ears like his ears too and his eyes were big glittery, with long eyelashes. He had a thin chin and his lips were kind of thin too growing inward I think so he looked like a monkey. The other kids were there. One other was a handsome one I liked, with a tuft of ragged hair draped halfway over his forehead and some freckles at the nose. With a bicycle, too. Now it got me all confused, and they said alright we take you way to fish crayfish.

We went to the pond. They dove into the grass and came back with palms clamped. The frogs tried to scare me and they tried to scare me, and they hit the frogs at the road and wrapped strings around their dead waists. Then wrapped strings around sticks, and put sticks down the pond. Then their palms were clamped again and the crayfish tried to scare me. So I took the train and left. When I left they came to see me but I was thinking already of the far off. I missed them before I left them, but when I left them I forgot about them. I thought of the frogs and mud and water mixed with rain with cow excrement in the middle of little occasional motors tanned eyes at the steps, me walking them swearing step by steps down and down and up. To where no flags flew and construction never ended. I yelled at the top of my voice but they didn’t hear. So I got sick and took the train home.

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Egon Schiele, Crescent of Houses

I tried sleeping but they kept dancing at my eyelids. My eyelashes drooped. I could see them at the tips bicycling on top of mud frogs jumping into grassy steps flowers. The flowers were yellow or white, thank god, and the music kept cutting at the wifi there is no  where the ponds flashed there were crayfish waiting to be frogged did you see did you see. I promised myself to write but the ponds were too loud, they kept crushing in. I said, leave me here with the peace where there is no peace there is only noise but company. I dreaded loneliness and craved to be alone, they said, here, in our palms there are  did it hurt the coming no it was the giving. If you could fight for a pen fight for a girl too, fight for her, she looked like   he was on his face he was all over his hands groping fisted for a pen he didn’t even like but oh he caught the first pair of red eyes   my cousin. The other girl I could never remember her name, something like a mosquito, with her hair flying black shooting like the radiance of sun. Her eyes a tilted seam smiling, like her lips curving up and down like slopes we encountered on the gradients of grass where frogs lurked for leaping, complete under teeth unpolished like her nails. Her cheeks and chin sharply round dark dry with rain not redness like a raisin. When she smiled the cheeks didn’t bob they lifted with chin left sticking round and sharp, just like hers. Only her ears didn’t stick and the hoop was too less of a hoop for a hoop. And she didn’t get slapped for trying to stop him when he tried to beat up that boy with a straight nose and slant eyes who tried to hit tease  he didn’t stop, he went raging, he swept down the chairs and the boy who looked like a kind bear, and he hit not for teasing. And his nose watered he caught the red eyes water or rain fringing the tips of brows with arms propped tangled, I said okay okay? he said no. No no no no no   lips clamped fists tight out he apologized no no no no   he caught the first pair of  no no he I refuse. He refused. The ring belled they flooded. The next day he was laughing off his chair and lost his heart of a pen.

The mirror reflects water molecules of air strangles me, I reach up and my fingertips don’t brush the glass, not penetrating the coldness seeps I can smell  through me fingertips the laughter, noise, the never complete black never alone but always lonely, the loud light and sleep can’t not allowed to sink. And time becomes what slips through the gaps between two sides of the mirror that face to face me. I am reminded of when I had no image of myself was more beautiful than I have ever been in not their eyes but my eyes, caught only damn the cameras. I did this for me, not you, you needn’t cry, but girl, damn you you look like my sister. Now get on your bicycle I’m returning to where I came from where the steel sprouts tall towers me buried not like me here towering above you looking down hugging you I don’t look there the tops too high to catch. The steel buries even the sun so it rises up late and eats at it early, so there is no lasting light as there is no complete dark.

Sisyphus

White dreams of Sisyphus we taste them at daybreak

we taste them like lubricants we gulp without tongue

we taste and we taste as his knuckles fall out.

Midday today he sleeps and he prays

he prays on all fours grey eyes to his knees

he drinks from greased cartridges his boulder is black.

 

White dreams of Sisyphus they drip a thin trail

they shrink and elongate sporting pagan mischief

we dream and we pray our feet are so blue.

Sisyphus breathes as he pulls out his tongue

his breath is full of ants his nostrils catch fire

he drinks from his bladder he rolls without eyes.

 

Black dreams of Sisyphus we taste them at night

we taste them near roses and we taste them near mountains

we taste and we taste

we taste them like partridges our tongues are so pure:

Up the mountain he dives he recognizes the stench of vertigo

he polishes his boulder it harbors ants it is vibrant

he prays and gathers syllables he writes for truth and heresy

he looks up at the sky and the stars are all dead.

 

John Dies

I should have learned to be more cautious of pyramids like this. The golden advancements of sand triangular reversed, a mere blurb to the camel industry we so admired. Because the red sand flying is but another autopilot, and in my dictionary there is no such word as “fall”. When rumbling sounds conveyed to us from a distance, we guessed it was an incidence of explosion somewhere deeper in the desert (Explosions have become a daily practice now, a sort of national indulgence, one of those burdensome but indispensable rituals we carry under our armpits). I mean, if you think about it the pyramids really aren’t the ones to blame. They too have been brainwashed. The rest of us lead lives of abstinence, shuttled to hives that store instead of host, that imprison in the name of protection. That’s when everything started to blur, even the chameleon that has been in my life longer than I have myself. He happened to be a pervert and had to undergo redemption before I would let him through the front of my house (I lived in houses then). He was something adsorbable, an entity addict who expressed contempt for heresy—although he himself was heretic, and often walked nude in his pyramid pilgrimages.

The chameleon they took from me. Exiled him, they said, but I wasn’t sure about his staying exiled. (They said they had to exile him annually, due to his timely arrival often disguised ((for he was a chameleon, a born disguiser)) amidst red and blue cargo.) They said also he didn’t have a heart. I knew it lingered between sad and sadistic.

In better days we would run up and down the pyramids, cruising through the cortex of not just them but an entire native Egypt. Nowadays Egypt doesn’t exist and instead we go shopping in a boutique of resolutions. Minute was the expression for timelessness and we lost track, trapped in the stagnancy of eternity. Eternity extended in a single file of linear relationship and ended up looping. Timelessness passed and the colors had never been so diametric.

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