self-portrait as domestic fowl
WRITTEN BY NICOLE LI
father said that great grandfather got mauled
coming home from the apothecary in the night—
big black hound broke its rotting teeth on his arm until
ginseng and gingko spilled, fused in the air with fear.
(his wife’s half-moon belly survived but he did not)
i’ll tell you these truths: passion is a li(n)e of
A’s splattered down paper, Tchaikovsky hidden
between first chairs and varsity letters collected.
ivy-rimmed throats spewing honey words, honey souls.
don’t you see this is the currency of the future?
there were fourteen of them in a space meant for two.
their matchstick ribs heaved in the jiangxi cold. they
shuddered into each other—could feel an animal
hunger wrapping its fist around the room, squeezing until
seven were left: darwinian theory at its finest.
behold the antlers growing from my parents’ heads, one
above each eyebrow but they’re bark instead of
bone. branches to the past. one for a fatherless baby who
became a grandfather. many more for babies that
never became fathers. mine at the end, ivory and whole.
i’ll rule kingdoms greater than this—search
for history under every clover and in every alleyway
to have more than the vestigial remains of something
fleeting something gone. something unlike the colossal
concrete world outside my window right now.
how can chickens clamber to lay eggs for someone who
will never make them anything but fat and stupid—
after all they were dinosaurs not so long ago.