After Jenny Zhang
/ I /there was a hell/which was our classroom/and a summer/which we called an exit/sorry/for letting you step out of hell on your own/ II /there were three couples dating among thirty of us/all appeared to be straight/the guys wouldn’t stop talking about how stupid their girls were/the girls wouldn’t stop praising the patriarchy/they blamed the guys whenever they were not being patriarchal/only one of them broke up when we high-school finished/which is you and your gf/which has later became an equilibrium for both/ III /after the 2016 election/as simple-minded vietnamese high-school kids/the guys celebrated the defeat of hilary clinton/having read no more than three articles about the candidates’ political campaigns/the chubbiest one in class/who was (thought to be) excelled in vietnamese history/whose name also happens to mean ruling in english/called the woman leaders he knew stupid cunts/his female classmates just cunts/his bros who did stupid things gay cunts/ IV /all his bros were gay cunts/all the gay cunts were straight/everyone else was straight cunts (?)/you was a gay
bro/but wasn’t a cunt/ V /the principle demanded a trans guy to change back to wearing his right uniform/which is a dress/just two months before his graduation/well sorry /but who is a cunt now?/ VI /sorry/for your mother’s tongue/which has failed to accompany either your words or ankles 1/ VII /until that summer/without the sun spilling down your neck/you stepped into the season/you put an end to the incarnation of cunts hell/but still/it was a prayer for a muted tongue/a quitted skin/for a quitted body/a bruised ankle for a knee that resisted to kneeling/sorry/for the moment you stepped into summer/you were still a disguised fag/
1 since there were countless times when you shot parts of yourself into the night with thousands of abandoned ideas and visions, none of which was your gf, or any others. every little death departing from your body like blindfolded cardinals, and the air was made either a black hole or a mother’s strangle. the sort that you felt as she recites something you cannot tell based on how it sounds – either a prayer or the great compassion mantra, for it being proceeded before an altar with six jarred pairs of eyes peering. some are dead. others are just holy. but none of which is alive enough to make sense of the weight they imposing upon us.
(This poem originally appeared on Heavy Feather Review, Issue 11, Fall 2021)