Category Archives: Poetry

Towers of Grass and Clay

October 26, 2016


Li Tsai stood beside the groundship and studied the ruins of the ancient city. She’d learned in school that the inhabitants of that unhappy place called it Denver, in honor of some forgotten politician. Today those people were naught but dust and troubled memories, she thought, shifting her glance towards the new city standing alongside the bones of the old: Deng Xiaoping, city of the people.

It was a fitting name. Deng Xiaoping was home to the largest undertaking in the history of man, one which would free humankind forever. Li Tsai thought the city’s long-dead namesake would be proud.

“Li, come,” called Fang Shen. “Chiang waits.”

She scowled, ignoring him, and turned instead to view her child, for that’s how she’d begun to consider it. The official name was Shenzhen United Development Project 54. The people simply called it SUD54, or sometimes just the Stairway. Li Tsai cared naught for their names. She’d worked thirty-seven years to get there:  SUD54 was hers.

She knew she must be careful. Her possessiveness was traitorous, if not outright dangerous. If Elder Chiang perceived her thoughts, he’d boot her down to material handler grade, or worse. “No, Li,” he would tell her. “SUD54 belongs to the people. To think otherwise is arrogance.”

“Please, Li,” insisted Fang. “We’ll be late for the review.”

And yet, staring at it now, she knew that the family of distant buildings, the dark spire in the center—massive even from this distance—was the only progeny she would ever create. She would gladly give her life to see it finished. Glaring darkly at Feng, she entered the groundcar, hoping she wouldn’t have to.

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July 24, 2011

I enter this airport, this city where nobody lives, suburb of nothing, a specious, spacious, cynical gateway with walls of steel and glass, a pass-through place pulsing with fragile, firefly lives and echoes of the droning voices of salesmen and consultants, bankers and real-estate experts and seminar-attendees who carry complex solutions to nothing.

A highly-paid, arm-waving, finger-pointing businessman cuts before me, failing to notice anyone with skin darker than his as he gesticulates his carefully rehearsed bullet points and negotiates his fifth big deal of the month via Bluetooth headset, until much later tonight he’ll call his family from a hotel room in Orlando or LA or Philly for their previously scheduled Skype videoconference.

Read the rest at Clockwise Cat:

Wedding Dance

June 7, 2011

Despite the freshly waxed dance floor,
the floral centerpieces and crooked boutonnieres,
the air is redolent with memories of catered buffets,
ancient spilled beer and stale cigarettes,
and the lingering sour smell of sweaty guests
dancing in uncomfortable formal wear,
the ghosts of weddings past. I stand
at this cheap wood-grained podium
the father of the bride, delivering
his obligatory speech. I stare out
at in-laws and cousins, friends of family,
uncles and aunts and withered grandparents,
a bored sea of shiny faces, half of which are unfamiliar
and will hopefully remain so.

Read the rest at The Camel Saloon

Riding the Coaster

June 6, 2011

My Mom is always cleaning my brother’s bedroom. She changes the sheets, washes the windows, dusts the dresser, the nightstand, even the fucking headboard. It’s like she’s trying to get rid of a bad smell, one that only she can detect.

Ray hasn’t slept in there for months.

Then last weekend the vacuum cleaner broke down. I was pissed that she made such a big deal out of it. I was sitting at the kitchen table doing my homework when I heard this whining sound, like the dog wanted out to pee. And that’s when I found Mom, keeled over on Ray’s bedroom floor.

Read the rest at Bartleby Snopes