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My Half Cup


The joke of the poem is its feeling of renaissance and remembrance

I have no translation for seeing the body unpin its own syntax in agreement

Having found my levity again, I may not yet become a meaningful danger, a contender for “it”

It was summer and I wanted “it” so badly, I came to “it” with my genuine parts

Then the preposition: brought in a mug’s curvature, a porcelain spoon, a finite grip

My parents are among the living and I thank Goddess for that

The world has a sleek, hot belly

A cue of white space, an inch or several yawning before the drop, towards volta

When I was a baby I never cried and removed thus from my country just days before the turn, my reality bears the form of its semblance

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The world may not be all that is the case

In the beginning there were people and they wanted life insurance

There was a totalizing thought, I’m sure of it

The self is a spring-loaded trap

My “joie de vivre”

My rough, incredulous

Publicly I consider the orange gourds marked up for my convenience though ultimately declining, I indicate real affection for the photograph developing there

By nature I don’t eat steak and attempt to play only earnestly upon the poem

I pull up no weeds, break no bleeding stalk

My mother, enumerating the oceans between us and not a featured actress in this screenplay for your benefit

My love, my labor, my paperwork is not always tender





Bitter Melon


I’m watching a youtube video called ‘how to calculate grades in excel,’ relatively sure that I am expected to swallow my sadness

A great idea for a conceptual poem: a list of the names of racist poets

At the airport one might say to me “stay in your lane”

To which I take offense, your lane is so much better

The body wants to breathe for itself

When finally getting settled it turns its whole surface into a scab in multiple enduring dimensions

At night I lay there primarily into / the image, softly or brutal

Singular, or possessive, a pain like a line drawn through the colored image as it recedes

It delights me, the sensibility of an anti-bourgeois, the sense that one could sleep quietly in its arms, killing nothing

It claws at the blue air, carried forth by a generosity almost contemporary

My bags push on me at night, rolling down to the ‘new palace’ restaurant in translation where I pick up the news

The quality of the legislation is short-sighted, related to: the quality of the law is short- sighted

The logical (furthermost) end of replicating short-sightedness to defeat short-sightedness is you guessed it

But, I say to him later “let me back on the bike,” help me up

I’m not hurt, not betrayed nor made blushing by the dirt in my knees

Exonerate me from myself or at least (coach) put me back in

In my Father’s unfinished autobiography I imagine there will be a chapter entitled “I Was An Activist in Beijing in 1989 and I Never Told You Until Now”

I’ve lived most of my years as if this were true

A parent is obviously a mirror into which you make the faces of dissent for a lifetime

Less obvious: he’s going for a ride and I am not invited

What to do now?

Work harder not to recognize the authority of the state




Wendy Xu is the author of You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013) and a 2014 Ruth Lilly Fellow. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, Boston Review, Poetry, jubilat, Guernica, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn and teaches writing at CUNY.

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