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

Junk

Play
Pause

1.
Plants gifted
By those I adored
Are dead for long

The pots, still
Around, posing under the sun


2.
Mugs that no longer drink
Drawers betrothed to be closed
The dust being
Dust, one small step at a time

Three centuries later
Someone takes up archaeology


3.
Worms spunging off rice grains
In a mired rice bin

Long, long ago
Spring was written as such


4.
A dead eye
A half-dead eye

On the ceiling held aloft by this dark night
Blinking words

5.
In swollen boxes
Are countless words

Books read up on books
Each other’s inked stranger

 

A Wonderful Life

Play
Pause

Snatch at the sounds
When someone relentlessly smears cream
Into the ears

The body, a budding daybed
A clock’s hand keeps serving as a guide
In war zone

Mastication delayed
Dreamless stomach
Music bypasses hearing

Leaves susurrate like the tides
A neighbor turns his key
In a faraway temple, a wooden fish stricken, contused

In a motion-disapproving room
Life’s punched holes
Virtual peeping in attempt

“I’m leaving to preserve my incompleteness.”1

A TV flips through all channels
Feeding continues
For the diapaused eyes

1 A title taken from War Series, a mixed-media installation by Sara Rahbar (1976 — ).

From You Are Not There

Every other day, you’ll receive
A blown-out matchstick
That pleaded to be lit the night before
To laud a metaphysical candle

*

When darkness stops checking the right box
My ventriloquy:
Let’s travel to the ruins, shall we?

*

A sun-kissed afternoon, I’m busy
Logging out of sleep

Transparent rain stains on a dining table
A knife briefly lemon-kissed

*

My biggest ambition:
To be your wrist-worn
Time

*

Besides the hideous blessings in your arms
No more paper scrap
To wrap your fictional love

*

I’m lost in a dim lane for quite some time
Outwitted by a dove
That can precisely
Peck on your window

*

Silence oozing like liquid on a plate
—Not that there’s no word to swallow
Only the fear of thorned honesty

*

Above the sea
A shadow born out of survival
Is glared by downcast eyes

Yet a convivial song from afar

*

To be alive
To be ringed in keepsakes
But baffled by how to near an ardent center

*

Despite little I care for
I knock over
The glass in my hand

*

On your shut eyes
I draw circles

(my solo performance begins)

You, smiling, delete the I
Leaving the circles behind

*

Late at night, an elevator keeps narrating
“Dogs are whores—”
Cats don’t count

*

The whole room in aqua blue
You swam past my bedside
Leaving scales of evidences

*

I stay in the line inside an arcade center
Become a follower of swaying bodies
How could I play the drums
Without clipping clamor to the heart?

*

Ennui myself ennui everything
Ennui my every castoff
So trivial like silvergrass hurting my eyes
I wish for blindness

*

Is aging momentous or
Gradual?
My ears filled with sounds
Made by strike-camping clouds

*

I map out the night’s isoline
Imitate a hillside house
Gazing afar at the weather front
That dawns from your palm

*

I freely bend anyone’s body
To practice the way a spoon would hug itself

*

Let strangers caress the back of your neck
Despite the messy hair
You keep heading somewhere uncharted

*

The fog you gave me, a present
I rest on my shoulder
No idea how to unwrap

*

I lost your navigation log:
Birds in socks, teary glacial beasts
Jellyfish singing lullabies…

New island, new docking
But could you summon the phantom again on the deck?

*

Hopscotch on one leg, skipping
That one word
Us

*

I live inside your hypothesis
To make a truth more truthlike

*

Those who came from Bethlehem
Cage me with their bare hands
Until the market closes

*

The room drifts upon
An island that drifts upon
The sea that fails to sleep

The dark night eagerly
Grims your back when you sleep on your side

*

I learnt to efface myself
Like a downhearted master of lies
Who revokes his long-awaited booking

*

Afternoon, the sky sends a brief note:
An eyas test-flies on azure paper
How to borrow your fingers’ tum-ti-tum with poise?

*

All too late
The ruins is withering in sight
Like a strange word
Fleeing from a dictionary

*

I’m cloning you
And you, me
As such, you believe we created something

But all comes down to the Creator
The alpha cloner

*

The authority
Edits the wails of willpower
Decides how it’s in high demand like gold
Or falls at last

*

The 41st day of being sick
I called up God to book for a full body checkup
Or I could collect some massive garbage upon visit

*

Blue outside the window again like mist-covered waters
A trip that went back in time
A boat your eyes wouldn’t let go. I wreathed it with pain

*

I occasionally choose to be absent
Those wearing a blank face
Hide the barrenness of their bottom line

*

Let strangers caress the back of (your) neck
And their hands enter your body to pick out a huge bone
To assuage your spine strained in high decibels

Appears in this issue
Sun Tzu-ping is currently an editor at the Liberty Times. Chinese titles by Sun include Knowing Shadows (essays), Sentimentalist (poetry) and Male Bodies (novel).

Read more

Nicholas Wong is the author of Crevasse (Kaya Press, 2015), the winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and Besiege Me (Noemi Press, 2021).

Read more

Infrequent email notifications