“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

Cynthia Dewi Oka

ACELA EXPRESS

On the train to New York formerly New
Amsterdam until the Dutch
traded it for a speck of nutmeg

in the Moluccas held by the English your
head could be a sunflower

forging a counter-position to ghost
you have not been
holding intestines in your hands

a nation is fragile
your mother buries your father she

made a graph of his fluctuating but can’t
say what it means that her
children stand crisscrossed by wires working

to accept confinement
to a circle appearing without a light of

our own

you read a book and the moon blown up
orbits the earth you play
Sibelius’ violin concerto to feel unrepentant

like voices debris catch
fire in the atmosphere it is time to let

the past throw
the horn for geopolitical reasons a helmet
is a hole inside of a hill

when the dream is thwarted we must make

another says someone who is not
your father to rows of undocumented
Indonesians in the wood of a church

in Philadelphia it’s true

nobody ever called back
though your father sat
by the phone for years this happened not only

to you

no body could afford
to cry in the well

it crouched there
wrinkling at the edges waiting
for the smoke to pass

sometimes it lived on
a rooster’s crow

that broke down the middle

ERASURE

ERASURE OF COMBAT LIBERALISM BY MAO ZEDONG, WHOSE GREAT LEAP
FORWARD KILLED 45 MILLION PEOPLE, BECAUSE FOR SOME REASON
CERTAIN “REVOLUTIONARY” CIRCLES CONTINUE TO USE IT AS TRAINING
MATERIAL, & EVEN MORE INEXPLICABLY, FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION
for Jenny Zhang

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Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of Fire Is Not a Country, forthcoming in fall 2021 from Northwestern University Press, and three other books of poems. She is originally from Bali, Indonesia. Read more

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