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July 17, 2019 Poetry


Amy Gong Liu

Tangshan photo


Before my grandmother had a habit of running wild with the rabbits. Before she was tongue-chewing and yellow, with white teeth. Before the bodies lay on the road for months. Before the city was enveloping and dirty and learned how to cover the stains on the concrete. Disaster makes blood choose between itself. Before people sleep on nothing but their skins.



lao lao in california
there are avocados,
and the fennel grows
between the cracks
on the sidewalk.
there is no gold
without a wrist.
when the earth
yawns the shingles
collapse into soup.
most people live
unknowingly or
on fault lines.
i am thirteen
and i have read
the propaganda,
and my mind
is trained to
duck and cover
when half
the sky falls.
lao lao why
do the people
in beijing
season the
dust they eat
so it tastes
more sharp
like xue? is it
true that it’s
thicker when
it flows in
more plenty?
mama never
lets me lock
my door in case
the structure
shift and she
can’t find my
corpse beneath
the rubble.
like what if it’s
the fire in
the days after
that can’t be
quelled? could
you imagine
if our active
shooter drills
train the direction
of the gun and
his bullets?



I, alive, have the clay in the river, the onions, the chilies, the floods, the world, inverted. The mayor is dead. I have a question about survival, but today, I will call you. Tomorrow, when we are underwater, do we release our breaths or keep them locked inside?



image: Doug Paul Case