even a whale’s death
ruptures the bodied notion
of two ways to be:
a whale fall flowers,
manna in pitch black ocean,
a feast as we speak.
can you imagine,
living the whole of a life,
then, dead and in bloom?
when I remember english I think of Cousin Jimmy
how he carried cruelty over his shoulder a hefty burden
sack of solid stones english even
at home how I learned loser is a word once thrown
returns easily my sounds matched to shapes of my parents’ mouths
and that was it family songs fell off my shoulders
and I emerged American
in the afternoons Jimmy used this english as a leash
our limbs soared over furniture we made laps around the kitchen
I thought we were going to the moon
eventually I grew hungry everyday he asked me the same question hands
in front of him his small fingers pinched imaginary sticks
do you want a poop popsicle or a pee popsicle?
Cousin Jimmy wore violence like a cape around his child shoulders
his voice like a river of fire ants a warning siren for the end of days
if I refused to play the lousy game the house would find itself under
a thick umbrella of clamor I imagine this was the first time I was asked
to choose between two things I did not want
today my therapist is tired of my feelings.
they ask for my thoughts instead—
it is essential to disconnect my body
from the violence of the sea.
when they say this, I am still rushing
my optic nerves back to present view—
sometimes memory is a secret door.
(a body can be so heavy, how
can one keep from falling through?)
but since you ask, my thoughts are as follows:
a feral cat shoots across Halsey Street,
there is a slot under a gate, the stray flattens
to press its belly through, the orange phantom
vanishes before my eyes. Where
do I find myself here, in the quiet
of this vagabond, in a door left ajar,
in pliable flesh, or in the silence
that follows the relief of refuge?
I am singing along to Frank Ocean, easing desire
out of the cavern of my mouth and the word
someday stretches across my tongue
like a hand reaching its palm faces the sky
as if to say come with me let sound travel
is this what we call courage faith in a destination
beyond the other side of this mattress
I have left this house two times this month peeling my body off
the bed like a snake splitting its skin my sheets
crackle against their own crispness
saline crystals and snot
this is the glamour of today and I am thinking
of someday rolling it over
the backs of my teeth like hard candy
the kind that cuts your mouth the kind that clack
like marbles in a jar
I am think about mouths I am thinking about my mouth
the sound of a mouth
how does longing rest in my mouth?
is it like a communion wafer soaked in sacramental wine
or is does it encase the back molars in epoxy
thick as caramel
sugar so sharp it hits a nerve
t. tran le is a poet from Texas. Their work has appeared in The Breakwater Review & 8 Poems. t. lives in Brooklyn with their partner & three cats.