Can’t sleep

Watch the sun rise

Like a charred lemon

Behind the thick, still haze

Of forest fire fumes

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Taipei, Taiwan

Stinky tofu
I used to wrinkle my nose
turn away with a blechh
now a scent I crave
like a sweet, rancid treat

A haze hovering over asphalt
the streets an organized catastrophe for
cars, motorists, pedestrians
messy orchestra of honking
windows rolled down, people
yelling in dialects of Chinese
motor engines fuming

The air is motionless,
humidity heavy like wet ceramic
sweat-clad skin
I wipe away the sweat on my forehead
a streak of it, from wrist to elbow,
smearing down my arm hairs

Youtiao for breakfast
Niu Rou Mian for dinner under a small,
whirring fan and sticky fly traps
towering city buildings, looking taller than
the mountain silhouettes in the background
of many hues of purple

Taipei, Taiwan
a 12 hour flight,
a home, family members
only 15 hours ahead of me
into the future

nervous

goop in my intestines
collecting at the base of
my rectum
dense, heavy
nervousness

a fat man
languidly sinking
into my bladder
bloated with
nervousness

twitchy fingers
clammy palms
sweat pooling between
my fingerprints
slick with
nervousness

stuttering,
dry, cracked lips
n-n-n-
nerv-v-
v-vous
nervous

heart in a grip
rapidly ramming
against my ribs
hot blood, rushing
nervousness

the common fig

the common fig,
the ornamental plant,
rotund, and ripened to purple

the common fig just wanted
to be a figure skater–
envious of their
glittered bodies
gracefully gliding
powerful and nimble
elongated legs
the crowd in awe, and those
striking blades
etching elegance along the ice

but alas,
the fig is but a commoner
gourd-like and fat with
mush and seeds
what an insurmountable fantasy,
a futile, mere
figment of imagination.

it has always been this

do i want to be
it has always been this

do i desire
bones
the sharpness of my
collarbone
knee caps jutting
trace my ribs like
hills and trenches

do i desire flesh
muscle like tough meat
pulsing calves
proud and robust shoulders
clenched fists,
an iron grip

brittle bones trembling
beneath translucent skin

or thick, quick arms

blue toes and purple lips
sporadically beating heart

or mighty, strapping thighs
heart like war drums

hollowed cheeks
hair thinning, falling in clumps

or sweat and strength

shrunken breasts,

armored breast

ill and lovely,

steadfast and powerfully built

do i want to be
it has always been this

Baba is home from work

Baba is home from work
scaling softly up the stairs
The smell of acrid metals still traced
under his charred finger tips
The rustling of plastic bags
knocking his knees, heavy with
Barbecue duck
glazed, crispy caramel skin
densely packed in a
Styrofoam take-out box
Coarsely hacked red-skinned pork
salty and sweet juices
seeping past the slight opening
Stir-fried Chinese broccoli
sleek with oyster sauce
I skim the sticky rice in the cooker with
a paddle, steam warping
the glass bowl
Baba settles down, his oil-stained
uniform hung, legs crossed–
and together we eat.

Cubes of pineapples on a sunny night

The window is ajar beside me,
I’m eating bite-sized cubes of pineapple.
My hair is soft, and smells like citrus
and the better sort of olives.
It’s night, but you can tell
by the lightness still in the sky–
akin an amber bulb glowing under
navy, translucent resin–
that it has been sunny all day.
The window is ajar beside me
I feel a little chilly now
and curiously, a little sad–
I realize… I’ve never really loved
the tartness of pineapples
or even the smell of olives.