Dostoevsky said sinners stink:
the natural deodorant companies’ dilemma
We scold the Major-lieutenant’s sour lust for Lolitas
while we smear bergamot & teatree,
in charcoal and arrowroot.
Dealing blackjack on a tombstone,
can’t we demand respect beneath topsoil too?
to Grandpa (he smelled like dried apricots)
on that mosquito-laden mountain,
I smushed my flip-flop
on his neighbor’s allotted square
of grass and whispered sorry.
Energy, ants, and socks
can be neither destroyed nor created:
only lost, regrouped, or stolen.
Notice how Grandpa dreamcalled the unblooded aunt
(my favorite story)
—the money thief
of a reptilian complexion——
one day before the service.
I’m so cold, he confesses.
The next morning, they gathered
around polished cedar and after lifting the lid,
found Grandpa in his socks.
I understand him, the ex-general:
and Dyatlov Pass taught me,
everything is strategic
nothing, snow hides.
When I pass, stuff my shirt with potpourri
(just in case)
and maybe I’ll remember
how to confront an opening.
A Weekend in Dublin
Whittle my tongue to the roof of your mouth/cells in
conversation/ anticipating signals, currents/as permanent as a fig
tree or drops on slanted window-pane/I ask: what do you
want/crude oil over stale milk/knotted tofu over slipped mung
bean curd/push-pull: a palm, a base into another/skull sunken/
thank god for the lilt of a limerick/for June Jordan/thank god I
share my fridge with someone else/thank god you haven’t read
Bulgakov/stranger to Behemoth/thank god a body warms alone/a
body writhes in its own lining, duvet sleeve, drywall/thank god a
body can’t dangle the thin strings/fishing wire of magistrates and
mirrors/thank god/a body only flails against whip & lash/against
rip & current/all one needs in an invitation: a sigh, a glass of
water, a curtain velcro, a blend of acrylic, and a good tailor.
Vivian Jiang is a Chinese-American poet from Long Island, New York who is currently based in Brussels, Belgium. She has works published in the lickety~split, Marginalia Review, Rainy Day Magazine, and Sink Hollow.