why i don’t bring watches to the beach

Nova Wang

Golden Shovel of “The Moment I Saw a Pelican Devour” by Paige Lewis


we met with your hands / on the steering wheel, gods buried in the

back seat of your second-hand truck whose dashboard clock froze each moment

at 4:03 am, but you liked it because that’s when birds / awaken, day opening like a beak. i 


rubbed the dial. wondered how you lived / on the crest of dawn, if you saw

sunrise streak through your windshield all day, the horizon a 

slash / of red. you said you preferred seabirds—a pelican


for every mile—because they are loyal / only to themselves. devour

light with their wings, unbounded to sea, earth, air. a

case study in escape. there were no pelicans there, but a seagull


crested above us, feathers suffused with sun, and you spread your arms into wings

so wide i thought you captured flight. that night, i dreamt everything / was swallowing

everything else: truck subsumed by sky, sweat salting our mouths, wings


enveloping your body as sunbeams haloed / the seats. when i

woke, night spilled oil-thick through the room because my feet hadn’t learned

to walk toward dawn, each sunset doubled / back and prolonged. that


was what you taught me: a minute collapses in your fist. a

day is merely a unit of sun, august stretched thin and light. a miracle

is anything that solidifies / in your mouth and emerges whole, born bright by spit. this is


to say that the last time i jump-started your truck, i would have done anything

to scavenge another year. unwound each clock. strangled / everything that

flew. i would have walked into the atlantic palms-up, waiting for god


to spit a slower sun, held us at high tide as foam stilled our watches’ hands. what i forgot:

tide drowns cliffs in salt. hours know / no pause. but what if we cast our broken birds to

the sand? what if you parked, and we watched the clock ‘til night, its movement already forbidden?

why i don’t drive backroads in the rain

Nova Wang

Golden Shovel of “Perihelion: A History of Touch” by Franny Choi


after getting my license, i stand in my room and practice / ways to crash. no

learner’s manual, so i experiment: shoulder first, or hip, or backward—skull split, moon


-light steeping the cracks. every shard aglow. you told me to avoid crashes in

the first place—just look ahead and drive—but you held / consequences out of sight,


turned your face as dead ends approached. i know how / to recognize a one-way street, so

-ft in its arrival, brutal in its end. how motion chokes against the brake and i


never learned to stop / without skidding, tires inching toward flight, gravel a howl

against the doors. still, in secret, i drive mountain tunnels and picture churning steel, at


-trition of metal against stone. land succumbing to will. in the

evening, i strike my fists / through plaster, break a door in every wall. i don’t know any exits


that aren’t also entrances. i open my mouth and wait / for something to emerge: stop sign,

wing, exhaust boiling out of a truck. car accidents consume the news, and i watch flames instead


of headlines, fenders and hoods buckling like girls / on their knees, bodies red

-efined by prayer. isn’t that the danger of leaving? explosions a turn away, no runes


among the wreckage? tell me: were you even here / if you left nothing behind? electric

storm, and i said stay / in the car, lightning will roll off the roof, but i wanted to tell


you it might be cramped here, but isn’t it worse outside? learn to an

-ticipate electrocution before it strikes, flames before they burn. isn’t it better to grow old


among dust than not at all? now, i brake / and watch roadkill rot to tar, reveal their story

of decay. vultures splay their wings, circling like mothers / around a grave, of


-fering their palms in apology. what i mean is: i wish i grabbed your arm before you escape

-d into the lightning-veined night, clouds crackling like a hundred miles of


static. i wish i had a remote to pause / these skies, change the channel, cut the wind.

i promise, thunder is quieter if we cover our ears. lightning is just a


flash if we close our eyes. what i mean is: i wish your dreams weren’t so wide,

wish you sat with me in the back seat instead of running out, spinning through the cold.

why i don’t turn off the lights, even when i go to bed

Nova Wang

Golden Shovel of “Scheherazade” by Richard Siken


maybe if i apologize enough, i can release / my crimes. toss them into these


fountains so they join the pennies scaled against tile, faces blurred beyond our


grasp. you said that’s the price / of memory, and i wondered how many bodies


are buried in our pasts. how long until we fade into the future, possessed


by wind. this was supposed to be a love poem. i thought by


now, i’d speak / without bittering my mouth. i’m still sorry about the light,


about the way it sutured the sky, too bright / to hold. here. tell


me all the ways you learned to swim, the world a kaleidoscope me


-lding your limbs. tell me how / the sun doesn’t set in alaska. how we’ll


go there next summer, lying under the gleam of ice, never


needing to sleep. i’m sorry for still faulting the light. i can’t get


away from its cruel glow, its warmth, the wishes / you used


to whisper from the dirt. but tell me anyway, about the sun to


-eing the water, the faces laughing / beneath. i promise, this time i’ll see it.