I wanted everything

Vivien Song

     & everything has happened already. In my room I am listless,

     listening to the TV drone on: sunny weather, the hottest in decades.

         Outside, plains curling into themselves, drawing

          the same circle over & over    again. Wildfire season among this field

     of gold. This field, too much          & then the killer bees.              It’s always

the gold that kills. I clear away          forests,

          testing my pulse against the            chimney’s exhaust.             There are many

          things that I’ve mistaken                     for life. An eagle

                  plummeting. Overturned.                     planks. The        land         ablaze.

          What to call smoke                           when it      surrenders to                     its own           wings.

A flash & suddenly,                                   flight.        Beneath a crater.        of steel,

    my father      says                                                        it’s only cyclical. I imagine      acres &       acres

            of         jaws                                                      springing up         to skin me     into dust ::

  the animals                       chewed                                    & spit out.       Easy to predict the world’s

unraveling                                Around                              him,                 the deer            trying to

     dress the                           earth’s                              motherless wound, me                 burying my

         lungs,                         my country                                admiring its        teeth. So what of

     another                       apocalypse.                             My country                     whispers

     factories             are      their own                           gorgeous        beasts,

the kind that           bites    to the bone,         the       kind 

      that thinks        this emptiness a peace.             & if I’m                            lucky

    one day I will           see birds flying                       overhead & want

                                some piece of survival.

Among the traffic lights, I find

Vivien Song

Originally published in Waxwing Magazine

after Emily Yin

America. This is

a mistake. The sun is

so gorgeous here, Mother says.

Two miles before the end

of the road, before the men

can polish their punches

& watch animals starved

in my wake. Inside this car,

anything can look like peace.

A low country & a minefield

of bright signs. Undying pledges.

The bullets we buried

on our way home. Once, I was

given a wreath of lightbulbs

& told to disappear.

Once, I hurtled my body toward

a firefly like I was holy. My

mistake. Streetlights shudder,

stop, shadows angled

toward limbs crumpled

on the ground like soot. I

roll the blinds up & then I see

the body, its hand reaching for

my throat like any firecracker

dying with an empty moon. So much

violence. The exit signs ablaze. No

return. I want to set this car on fire

& lay here as a deer. Isn’t that poetic?

Later, we raze the deer on the freeway

to reach an altar of stars and stripes.

My face is my face wearing

a butcher’s robe. Too late, Mother,

I never wanted to be religious. I’m trying

to make this a joke. This nation

we revere, not close enough

to touch. Here is the head I cut off

to be a sacrifice, lurching like an eagle’s

frame, sitting in the passenger seat,

turning the windows dark.

VIVIEN SONG is a poet from the Bay Area. A National YoungArts Finalist in Poetry, her work appears in Waxwing and AAWW: The Margins, among others. She is a student at Pomona College, where she hopes to study English and CS.