My mother, after mistaking the rat poison
for who-knows-what, has to have her stomach filled
with charcoal. I’m always surprised how efficiently
regret can build a machine, a geared thing
charging through the narrow halls of your memory?—
Asian men ain’t shit?, her voice a loose cork
?àn ông c?a mìn không t?t ?& I think about my father, his temper
how she blames him for everything?—??i ?i, ?i ?i.
Leave. All you do is leave.? For years we sat in silence
while she prayed & lit candles; asked ancestors to free me
from disease; again, blamed my father, that he taught me nothing
but desire & the desire to kill her—but still, I am surprised
when she turns to me & says, in a language I do not remember
being this soft?, Because your lover is white, you are forgiven?.
If I’m anything, I’m a boy inside his mother’s body
shoveling coal into a screaming red engine.
You were once & perhaps continue to be
the myth you tell to scare yourself
into loneliness. Copper totem rusting blue
in your throat. Once, a man paid
to watch you eat. There are countless ways
to justify company. Hunger, overdue balance, whatever.
Cartoon savage licking the throne clean.
& isn’t that what you always wanted?
To be filled & emptied? To bite the hand
that feeds you? Even if the hand wants to be bitten?
& is that defiance? Standing naked
at a dinner table while oil drips
from your chin, wanting the man
to touch you, but he won’t. & you want
to be the kind of person who doesn’t need
to feel beautiful, but you are. You are
predictable in your longing. Grotesque muse
spinning marrow into lace. Spit bride
glistening beneath a chandelier
stunning, even just for a moment.