does anybody want to collab
like you can just write something like “my brain is a puddle of oreos dyed in elephant skin pigment”
or like something more profound
“my love for thee is—
never mind i’m not being profound right now so i can’t give a proper example but please i would love to collab with anyone. even if it turns out to be as beautiful as jellybean chrysalises soaked in mud.
helen thought hot water did not taste much different than tea, and the only difference was that tea sometimes scratched her throat when she put in too many crinkled black leaves. it did not take very much stretching of the imagination to conjure the taste of gingseng or ginger or vanilla when all she was drinking was water. she liked to wrap her fingers around a red mug that hugged her fingers back with a muffled fire-embrace and pretend it contained some sort of herb that would be a cure for whatever disease she had at the moment.
helen lived with her husband jesse in a small apartment in a small town that was decorous and quiet. the most tragic event in that town had occurred twenty years ago when a man killed his wife in a sushi restaurant because she had told him over sliced salmon that she was having an affair with someone who hated sashimi. someone made a morbid joke afterwards that he killed her because the restaurant needed more meat and red sauce.
helen and jesse got along as well as a broken tea kettle did with a pound of coffee beans. the only time jesse got mad at helen was when she broke her red mug and it happened to be brimming with diluted tea at the time, the result of a tea bag reused for over a week. they drank from paper cups after that, and ate dinner on gum boxes taped together and then wrapped in cellophane so that they wouldn’t dissolve into bubbles when helen put them into the dishwasher.
once, jesse bought home a cardboard box lined with neat packets of tea bags folded into square patterns like the white lines on a piece of raw fish. helen did not ask him where he got them, but she spent the rest of the night drinking green tea and using a butter knife the scrape the crumbs out of their empty refrigerator.
tea had never been an antidote for helen.
there are letters littered on the smooth pavement of my brain. letters, not words—they are not yet strung together on frayed yarn and knitted into jeweled paragraphs, but they are black carved dots with certain bits of matter scooped out and discarded. they have potential, but not enough to fill the pages of a creased novel with a broken back, or even a page glossed with liquid glass and bound with novelty. they will go nowhere but clog the sidewalks and all the cars and trucks will trip and tumble off steel bridges as black cryptic symbols curtail movement and bestow deathly accidents.
First it’s an
empty park, because the sun
has been eaten by too many ticks of
the clock. Then it’s you, and then it’s me, and then it’s the
three-leaf clover we find because we are all out of luck. Next it’s your hand in mine, dragging me to meet your shy twin brothers,
who stroke my hair more softly than you ever did. I shuddered—such compassion was not to be trusted. You took me home and planted eight roses on my neck while I searched the elevator panel for your
floor number. They say it is unlucky, you said. We take the stairs, exactly twenty-five steps of quill-textured brick. I take your freckle-painted hand, and try to count all the gems before you say goodnight. All too woefully, I seal your lips and count, mesmerized by you and the arithmetic, and oh, how I hate arithmetic, but the word, it tickles my tongue.
You talk to people for a living; that is all you are allowed to do. Listen to them behind a desk with hands folded primly on top of a school notebook as if you are the student and they are the teacher. But they are.
Listen. Listen. Listen—do you know how hard it is to listen and smile for six hours a day, as if you understand why the old woman still wears her dead husband’s old raincoat when the sun is large enough to sew a million magnificent gowns to replace all the dresses she never wore? why the girl looks prettier when she frowns than when she smiles, and so she is lovelier than sunsets when she props her head up with inked hands and tells you about how she cries enough to water and kill three roses a day? why the husband of three women is secretly afraid of the scars on his back, and so he throws out his white veiled princesses once they run their fingers over the red ridges too many times?
You listen with ears that have heard too much but not enough, and you wish to gather all their emotions in a basket, like all the colored buds that dot the grass in spring, and then you wish to spend the night seated on the wooden floor of your house, separating the weeds from the flowers.
But in the end, you aren’t sure which you should keep and which you should return. The dandelion tastes like sour honey, and the rose thorn cuts the skin above your lip.
it was a jade-tipped
to her heart buried beneath
layers of indifference, soft as silk,
his question: that turning
a metal hoop on her second-tallest
and a melted scoop of his over-cooked
that she slipped into her qipao pocket.
in a handful of months
he dissolved into the Sino (and some number)
strife, between those
called twins: Empire and Republic
by the ignorant straw-haired, oh,
how we’ve forgotten
maybe he would have lived
if he had kept his soft
in their entirety
she stayed home accompanied
by indifference and a desire
lead her to melt all that could
into solid death-singers—
even silver hoops
on passionless fingers.
it was a flame-tipped
that ripped ten thousand hearts
buried beneath infinite layers of tremulous
lit on holy fire.
handle with care the amphora
(drop it and the dry marble floor will shudder
at such disturbance)
mirrored hands grasp narrow ceramic arms
that cling to the swelling pot-belly
not with fine wine
but the unadulterated tears
of squeezed apples
an amulet around its thin neck
wards off a certain snake
no more bitten men
will fall tonight.