A smaller commitment or, lucky bitch, as they say, in Taiwanese

The models who sell betel in the country booths where the trees, mosquitos swayed

At 8, I knew our life was its own movie

That’s what’s become of her land of exiles

Fending geese, a twentieth century fox era of never sudden geese

Momma’s favorite lullaby?

Ashes ashes we all fall down, always, to the core

A heart hung on a butcher’s hook, or, heartache, as they say in Mandarin

Someone, someone’s child, some child’s sliding down a banister and another, her sister, is flinging herself over the railing

What is she saying? I can’t understand her, through that thick, thick accent, and you have her pinholed, your daughter begs you to switch her to another Girl Scout troop,
she has a friend now

There is nothing braver than a child This is not a trapeze act This does not become a trapeze act until a little bit later…

Is there something that draws us here? together?

To crumble or melt, like a chocolatiers’ predilection, and you know, the Chinese despise chocolate


Valerie Hsiung is the author of three full-length poetry collections, most recently e f g (Action Books, 2016). Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in dozens of publications, including The Nation, Denver Quarterly, Pinwheel, Hayden’s Ferry Review, PEN Poetry Series, VOLT, American Letters & Commentary, FANZINE, and Prelude. She has performed her work at Treefort Music Festival, DC Arts Center, and Poetic Research Bureau, amongst numerous other stages. She serves as an editor for Poor Claudia.

cover photo by Winston Chen