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Tending the Speculative: Poems from the Asian American Adoptee Diaspora

Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, inquiring into a poetics emerging from the adopted diasporic condition, guest-curates a portfolio of poems for The Line Break.

By The Line Break

6.

Songkran Niyomsane’s Forensic Medicine Museum, 2003

Behind the Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok:
The Chinese cannibal’s corpse
Was stuffed and hung in a glass box.
His bad orthodontia flickers like nightlights
After hours.

            Honestly, he’s a bad piece
            Of shoe leather. Rancid jerky.

Impolitic students visiting the second floor
Contemplate Rama VIII as the Thai JFK.

Head doctors confirm
An uncommon number
Of unclaimed corpses
Received a single bullet

            In the forehead

To study the methods
Of modern regicide.

Periwinkle tile and placid aquariums
Among imperfect babies soaking
Within dusty beakers of formaldehyde
Are supposed to soothe you on your tour.

A brown clay jar on the floor

            Slowly fills with baht

For the solitary soul of a tiny boy
Crammed inside to suffocate by his last enemies
                                                           In the world.

Reach inside.
You’ll feel a young ghost’s hand 
reach back, looking for toys.                                     

I wondered if my mother, making her way across
The Mekong for a new life, might have found herself here
Tucked in a drawer anonymously among these samples
Of flesh, these cold cases in a tropical nation.

Behind you, Dr. Niyomsane’s own cadaver chuckles
From a clean hook, the eternal student, daring
Tomorrow’s professional investigators
                                         to study him.

 

Orphan Babies (Gold and Silver), Dana Weiser, 2009-2010. Orphan Baby (Gold) 19" x 20" x 23", Orphan Baby (Silver) 16" x 24" x 25" Whiteware clay, Swarovski Crystals, paint and lacquer. Photo: Joshua White
Orphan Babies (Gold and Silver), Dana Weiser, 2009-2010. Orphan Baby (Gold) 19″ x 20″ x 23″, Orphan Baby (Silver) 16″ x 24″ x 25″. Whiteware clay, Swarovski Crystals, paint and lacquer. Photo: Joshua White

 


Bryan Thao Worra is an award-winning Laotian American writer and works actively to support Southeast Asian American artists. A transcultural adoptee, his writing is recognized by the Loft Literary Center, the Minnesota State Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts. He represented Laos as a Cultural Olympian during the Poetry Parnassus of the London 2012 Summer Games. He is also an active professional member of the Horror Writer Association and the Science Fiction Poetry Association.