& 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.
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.