Another day passes
by without certainty –
certainty running late, a train
dragging its luck. When is
Forget love, my mother says,
go home, learn to cook for one.
Horrible to set a plate
in the center of an echoing room:
Jane, Jane – to
kill that noise, to arise in
love again. Repeat, repeat –
my whistling train stunned and stuck.
Now, rolled over to a stop –
oh what is there to say?
Paralyzed in fog, in the eye of a steamed fish.
Question nothing, my mother says.
Return to yourself, time and again.
Selfishness, make yourself comfortable.
Turn not in bed, moored by no fat moon
under no star wrestling for no light.
Victory, victory, the fish cheers with its pinpricked gape.
Wear loneliness like a chrysalis, a crown.
Yoke your ribs to language instead, i.e.
zyzzyva, the last word: my own.
WHAT I TELL MYSELF AFTER WAKING UP WITH FISTS
Tired of fighting – undo your armor – stuck to your ribs like a good,
fat meal – undo the gristle – knuckled in the prior – in gluttonous,
bee-drunk June – calling back what was never – there, can you
believe it, your mother says, a man – can cry over a dog’s dead body
– but won’t look you in the eye – the facts multiply like the arms of
an aloe plant – spears of fact: you have never done what has been
done to you – fact: each leaving radiates with alien light – each
apology: an overdressed salad you will eat – nethertheless – vow: do
not wash your face at night – let all your hexes seep into your pores
– vow: uncurl yourself from weaponry – for: you know what it feels
like – an arrow in the arm – rustling in splinters – allow: light what
uses your strength against you – fawn, fear, or wreck – each fist
somersaulting in what knuckle – ruthless: write a poem for love –
before love can even exist
Jane Wong‘s poems can be found in Best American Poetry 2015, American Poetry Review, Third Coast, jubilat and others. A Kundiman fellow, she is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the U.S. Fulbright Program, the Fine Arts Work Center, Hedgebrook, and Bread Loaf. She is the author of Overpour (Action Books, 2016) and is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Western Washington University.