Before they took Hong Kong in the nineteenth century, the British described it as a “barren rock with hardly a house upon it.” Now it is a place of tremendous height and stone, worthy of Sisyphus’s fruitless toil. The colonial history says it all, for Hong Kong was colonized twice: first in 1842 as a possession bartered away by the British, . . .Read more
There was a story in the village of Bjni that went like this: When Armenia declared its independence from the Soviet Union, there were two types of people—Armenian A, who sold his Soviet state-subsidized goat, spent all his money, and had to beg for the rest of his life, . . .Read more
The first twenty minutes in line outside the bathhouse sound like thunder. The Broncos have just played—maybe won—at Mile High Stadium, and if it weren’t for a block of four-story apartment buildings we ’d be looking down on the city from the Highlands. The fireworks would be eye-level. Instead, I watch the ambient backglow of a tv inside one of the apartments across the street. . . .Read more
When the sun goes down you move
horizontal you become everything
in the world at once rather than waking
like vertical where you obsess over
ascend or descend or whatever rain
at the edge of the building spit forth
by gargoyles does drown yourself in the jizz
of the world no shape of narrative
I’m lost but thrilled sun yellow still
inside my self I am a pocket for the other
day already gone Sheila hillbilly
iconoclast seizes the song in the cage
of her throat drawls not the edge of it
but its music entire
. . .
As a child I wanted to know why God put me in this body that repelled so many people on sight. Why people felt at liberty to pick me apart and wipe off their filth with the pieces of me. My skin, too dark; . . .Read more
Among the Losses
My lamentations have shaken loose locusts.
They whir in the burned-out nave of my body.
In the shower, whole decades wash from my body.
A girl’s hairless limbs emerge naked from the spray. . . .
A small city disappears in
the near-sighted dusk of a coastal winter.
Someone is walking home as I once did.
Someone is thinking as I did once
this is their neighborhood, their consolation.
Once I thought words could describe this. . . .
In memory of Callie Barr, known in historical record
as caretaker of William Faulkner’s family
You may find her behind
Rowan Oak, a shadow
of fortress where then now
you find no real entry place. . . .
I am no longer blind, but there was a time many years ago when I lost my vision. Next week I’ll see the eye doctor for my cataracts, and he’ll ask if my eyes were ever damaged. I don’t know how these things work, but should I go in for surgery—should it come to that—I feel that withholding any medical information, . . .Read more
I would not be who I am today were it not for the Bomb.
Had there not been a bomb, my biological father—a Manhattan Project physicist—would not have died in 1951 from radiation-induced cancer a month before my fourth birthday, and I would not have grown up fatherless. . . .Read more