The Shanghai Excursion

Wreathed in white space,
I ask you
To stencil me in


(teach me the ways
of the modern woman)


And you

All but refuse. for

futile is the woman
who cannot strut about
a crowded east-asian fish market
in six-inch stiletto heels.

hawkers may beckon,
but she remains a miserly vale.
no tip, no bag, no purchase:
you, seller. you clearly rigged the scale.

1,000% discount and counting,
she saunters away,
balances a tottering tray of dimsum
with a menagerie of goldfish:
polite curios for the little cousins.

(At the end of the New Year celebrations,
She’ll be in charge of clearing out
The fish tank in
Remarkably inauspicious
Black bags.)

in a city where six-hour grocery trips
are the norm,
more futile is the woman
who smells of fresh tilapia
at the end of said time interval.

(six times sixty
is three-sixty, did you know that?)

and – and –
in case you’ve forgotten:

most futile
is the woman
who cannot taste a rhetorical question

at the tip of her own tongue


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Ekphrasis (The Portrait)

Visual art by Sana Liu

The portrait is done. I eat
A sandwich, down a coffee,
Break my fast.

Halfway through the third croissant,
The girl in the painting –
She’s a striking girl, with wry lips
And gray eyes –
Suddenly parts her lips
And speaks.

I don’t remember my childhood,
She murmurs. I have lanky arms
And a moony face and all I do

All day long is sit in an oil painting
And grimace at this paltry flower.
I must’ve lost my memories
After someone pushed me
Down a gorge.

Did you fish me out?
To which I reply,

No. I down another coffee,
Grab my paintbrush,
Blot her lips.

She faces the sky now,
A wayward diverge,
The long and unbroken dirge.



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