Bully

Barely standing, he pushes people over
with harsh words soaked in a menacing tone
that occasionally trembles when a bit of phlegm
catches in his throat.

You better believe in Jesus when he corners you,
or be ready to.

You better be ready to give him your full attention,
or his feeble voice will boom, and his face will redden
as it moves closer to yours.

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God and the Wheel

The rainbow wheel spinning
I curse at waiting for the folder to open
looks exactly like it feels
when I’m trying to finish one quick thing
and my husband is calling me to dinner.

If you’re spinning the wheel God
I should not be cursing
at the revelation appearing on my screen
praising the colors throwing off light

a personal prayer wheel
chanting Om mane padme hum
every time it appears
heralding what’s in the machine

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Talking Heads

It’s something to look forward to,
Mom says
of the talking heads
on the evening news,
her portal to the world.

When Dad was still here,
they’d watch together, and in twenty minutes
their own heads
would drop to their chests.

Now she nods off alone
under waves of silver hair,
the ocean at dawn

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Mr. and Mrs. Medusa at the Macy’s Perfume Counter

She stood in the front
Of the silver and black glass counter.
Her fingers ransacked the perfume,
Stone skin reflecting in the onslaught
Of mirrored ads and a solo saleswoman –
Ms. Fake Green Eyes was fond
Of a particular smell called Trauma or Mercy,
Some obscure name meant
To bore temptation like eggs from an roc’s nest.

Fake Eyes presses down on the black and gold
Spray top, a mist pours down onto my wife’s wrist,
The aftershock of a coastal storm – two presumed lost.

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Affection: A Bilingualcultural Poem

In Chinese, 朋友,恋人,& 爱人 are all
12-stroked characters, just as their counter-
Parts friend, couple & spouse are 6-lettered
Words in the imperial vocabulary of English

Though they are all underlined with human

Love and loyalty, the former entails twice
As much input or effort of the heart
As the latter to maintain a disparately
Similar humane relationship as a speech

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How Deceptive The Moon

Night air carries superstition, poison’s veil,
cry of hunting owl, unbound mastiff.
Deceit manages the moon.
Dire blaze of comets fall
whips at cries of disembodied voices,
chaos of sordid death by border lies.
My reflection is running water,
an impulse through exile’s grasping past
profound as sin and consecration.
Floating in inertia, admiring
ennui through its idling passage,
I cup my hands to my mouth, rising
in terror, singing for redemption.

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Homework

In science class we learned
the hottest point of steam
is at the tip of the teapot spout—
where streams of swelling heat
rupture the cooler air.

After school, I do my homework
upstairs in my room.
My kid sister murmurs
somewhere,
playing family on her own.

When the clock clicks four
the stacks of the factory moan,
and the sky
gets smudged with smoke.

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To Settle the Night

Sky streaks lavender and orange to lowering blue.
Night chill rises, flicking at pants legs, leaf piles,
dampens sidewalk to footstep skate.
Beyond the greasy click of a security gate,
last birds circle to settle on a sleeping roost,
scavengers slink the hedge lines,
eroded wastes of tree root, fence rot.
Phone-nervous, the late-working husband,
lover late with wine and Chinese
hustles towards an unsettled greeting.

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A Drink to End the World

The map of the world has changed
since I photographed you;
faded in its frame,
ink lighter with the seasons.
No Siam, no Burma,
one Vietnam.

Across the room
your cheekbones are sharper,
hair shorter, bright blonde as
your lips and nails are red.
Aroma from a whiskey tumbler reveals
polite wine lost to single malt.
Surgical, your laugh slices the room,
precise as heels across an Aztec tile floor.
You step out where I stand
to smoke, to stare at the waxing moon.

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Left of Gandhi

Sittin’ to the left of Gandhi
Peaceful intentions and all

Honolulu Zoo behind me
Girls playing volleyball
Beautiful ocean

Yet, the world burns in more ways than one

My wife in the water, with beautiful fish

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