‘First memory of English: my father orders spaghetti from a waitress. / Foreign flowers blossom in his mouth and I’m spellbound in Urdu. // On Friday afternoons, cars spill across a bleached suburb. / Not far from the mosque, look! Crooked lines of devout Urdu.’
‘how to write a thank you letter / how to write a sorry letter. how to write / a letter saying please i’d love / my money back, or haven’t i given / you enough? how to write i love / you i love / you and isn’t that / enough?’
‘the games you played as a child: / cracks breaking bones with every step. alive because / that’s your job.’
‘He doubts he has the capacity to uproot himself and start over in a foreign land at this age. But times of war and revolution have a tendency to embolden the meek, to electrify the confident.’
You said you were an ant, eyes frozen / on an indigo wave looming over the world. / (You reset every time / you move forward.)
‘Say, I’m here, Dad, my mom said. I’m here, Dad, I said. You have to say it louder so he can hear you.’
‘We are given a face, / which means we are given / a vessel of blood to call body, / & lungs–that know the alchemy / of altering wind into breath–the way / plants are always transforming / someone’s last words / into oxygen.’
‘You brace yourself against the oncoming. But today the sea glistens like the fish you used to scale.’
‘Match lit by a shadow’s curiosity. / Though I was not there for it, I still tasted their meat // and their marrow held a sweetness.’
“in the jungle they hide until / the seekers, bearing lime leaves jail / them in the silver night.”
When did I first realize my parents were not infinite? / That I could see the end of them? Past their capes & catchphrases?
‘Perhaps it was not what he did so much as how he put it. He insisted on “killed” not “terminated.” He refused “vertical chamber apparatus” in favor of the lurid “pit of despair.” But he also called love “love.” What reason was there to pretend otherwise?’
as if smell promises taste and always delivers. / Pleasure, when observed, wets into compulsiveness.
I live inside this world that lives inside / me: in this dream, there is nowhere to hide.
One night, I said, I wish I could tattoo myself onto you.
I went to see what people are really like / in a thousand human ways.
A former student recalls the ups-and-downs of Ho’s cult of personality.
“While a part of me was glad I wasn’t like my brother, no part of me wished to be more fortunate than my mother.”