Friday, November 28, 2014

Poem of the Week: Kenji C. Liu

So, that you are always sir, dear sir

for the 43 Ayotzinapa normalistas and all disappeared


Ask me again why I am here
with this pine, this wild oyamel,
their great succulence of reason

You, machine lyric
and State, every state,
maker of rules and so outside them

You, hard blue evenings
with mass emergencies buried
inside them, like me

Your answers endlessly insufficient-
the mayor and his wife, smiling
waving pinkies, waving dollar bills

Sweet water pouring
into the mind of a cardboard box
The verification of empty


Dear sir, the angle of civilization
the angle of your civilization is too steep

I am speaking certain words and not others
Light rises along my spine

This mountain is a white bone
This republic, a one-note instrument

The president-like a president-deciding
is this one as human?

A forest of marigolds between our knees
"Mexicanos, ¿Cuando piensas arder?
¿Cuando el desaparecido salga de tu casa?"

Our altars coated with sugar
no place outside the economy of war

When the pan is all gone we will take leave
a parade of ripples with a snake's purpose

This last remittance will cover the cost
if not I will send more, tied to an eagle

The earth is filled with exceptions-
43, a number, so many numbers

I feel around my dark hold
in search of light switch and decomposition

"Ayotzinapa vive
el estado ha muerto"

Bring back the fire

In the bow of our ship, an entrance
a bullet

Used with permission.

Kenji C. Liu is a 1.5-generation immigrant from New Jersey. His writing appears or is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review, Asian American Literary Review, The Rumpus, Barrow Street Journal, CURA, RHINO, and the anthologies Dismantle (Thread Makes Blanket Press) and Orangelandia (Inlandia Institute). A recipient of fellowships from VONA/Voices, Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and the Community of Writers at SV, he holds an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Social Transformation. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a graphic designer. He served on the Board of Directors for Kearny Street Workshop from 2011 to 2012.


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