April Lit: Two Poems by Jane Wong

April 19, 2016

Illustration by Mori Walts

For April, we are pleased to bring you two poems by Jane Wong. The poems are rich and jarring, surprising in both imagery and in the way they break your heart in unexpected ways.

--Karissa Chen, Fiction & Poetry Editor


I walk across a dotted line
            separating this world
                        into halves

like the nectarine
            the man in the market
                        split and handed over

to me yesterday as if
            we were to be married.
                        Some mornings, I simply refuse

to open my eyes. Some mornings, wool
            covers my mouth,
                        my teeth dappled

in lamb depth.            
            Often, I wake to fruit flies
                        settling in my hair,

oversweet. The world around us teeters
            on its stem. Who wouldn’t
                        want to pluck it

clean? I wash my face
            with a sliver of soap.
                        It’s hard not to

throw it away. The muck in the corners
            of my eyes grows another
                        self – I shift away

from the dotted line.
            With each step, the sun
                        slides from room

to room – how can we tell the difference
            between day from night? My face flushes
                        with the sun’s toxins,

pores of burnt bread.
            The gravity of the continent
                        loosens. Nectarines dangle

about, loose light blubs.
            The deciphered world plans
                        its revolt. By what rules

will we play? By what means?
            What does it mean when ants
                        rummage through the walls?

When the eye of a needle breaks
            open? And how can spring
                        possibly depend on us, as it must?



At night, mosquitos tuck themselves

            into my elbow,

my blood gone viral.

            A rat on the topmost shelf

declares sovereignty. Here, trash masquerades

            as verbs. I slime, I meat

slick you. These verbs, repeated,

            are enough to convince me

to keep talking. To say everything

            of my dollop of rudeness,

my voice fouling uncontrollably

            like the sun shining

on a dog fight done right.

            Too often I hit a carcass

on the road, my curse

            as hot as a knife cutting

through a canyon. To think, if only

            I killed it first. To not think

at all. Above, ravens runneth over me,

            air sick with feathers.


Illustrations by Mori Walts.

Mori Walts is a queer Nikkei multimedia artist based out of Santa Rosa CA who is currently focusing their art on processing the imaginary Japan within the western imagination. They hope to pursue a career in animation.



Jane Wong

Jane Wong grew up in a Jersey restaurant. Her poems can be found in places such as Best American Poetry 2015, Best New Poets 2012, Pleiades, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Third Coast, The Volta, Tupelo Quarterly, and others. A Kundiman fellow, she is the recipient of scholarships and fellowships from the U.S. Fulbright Program, the Fine Arts Work Center, Squaw Valley, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She holds a MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and teaches at the University of Washington Bothell and the Hugo House.