Cities in the south
streaming past the dirty
taxicab window.

Roadside kiosks selling fruit
and roast pork, mounds of ripe

jackfruit, their golden yellow
bellies hacked open. The heat
like a veil over everything;

and somewhere in its pocket,
a whiff of the sea.

Not far from the shopping mall
and mega-grocery store, a statue
of a native who killed

the Portuguese sailor.
It’s almost impossible to find

anything that isn’t made
in China. A woman wants to know
how she can make sure the rice

she’s buying hasn’t been bulked up
with grain-shaped plastic pellets.


Another summer, another country.
My friend asks if I feel I
could ever go back

to that place we both
once called home.

She doesn’t really wait
for my answer. Her husband pours
a beer into my glass.

In their backyard, they name
for me the climbing roses:

Lady of Shallott. Boscobels.
The Lark Ascending. Frau Eva
Schubert. Jubilee Celebration.

I want to empty myself wholly
into their scented cups.


Here, we make fried
breakfasts when we can: eggs;
toast; rice on weekends.

I miss that old ritual of waiting
for the bean curd vendor at the gate.

Or brown paper bags filled
with hot knuckles of bread
dusted with salt and crumbs.

I don’t mean for everything I write
to sound like nostalgia.

Perhaps it’s more like
inventory: one column for things
that continue to simmer under

the skin, another for those
that have evaporated.


I had a blue linen dress
with printed flowers. A scratchy
sweater of woven brown fibers.

I had a stone carved in the shape
of a Buddha; a polished wooden

shoehorn; a basket of woven
seagrass. I am always listing,
adding details as they get clearer.


For months, I stood in front
of the bathroom mirror, twisting
at wayward bone fragments

embedded in the gum above my teeth until,
finally, they gave. My little vampire

apparatus, my wish: not to live forever,
only to live. Here I am, unhomed body;
older now but still pulsing with longing.



In response to Via Negativa: Autumnal.

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