To read Bodega by Su Hwang is to immerse oneself in a world, but to read this debut poetry collection in tandem with Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong is to deepen one’s understanding of what it means to be raised in the United States as a Korean daughter of immigrants. Both offer prismatic sides of living in a racialized nation where “Asian American” is a box to check off on official census documents, and another way to categorize human experience.
My mother was a beautiful bird who fluttered around people in a state of constant agitation. Terrified of being trapped, she was always opening windows, even in the middle of January, and rushing out of doors “to catch a breath of fresh air.” Once outside, she would disappear in an instant, only to return hours later, the wind and leaves and twigs in her hair.
To read a Bridget Lowe poem is to observe a gradual transformation, a transmutation of the ordinary into progressively more extraordinary metaphysical states. Anyone who read Lowe’s first book At the Autopsy of Vaslav Nijinsky will be excited to see, in her new collection My Second Work, a return of the same immense imagination, which she utilizes with surgical precision to prod at what makes us human.
A balding man entering a tavern, nothing unusual, but a bump on top of his left ear caught my attention, reminding me of Forge. Could it have been my enigmatic classmate from decades ago?
One cannot prepare for slaughter.
Last month, a cognition test for your son:
Does a rock float in water?
In the San Francisco
of my twenties, we were like trees
pressed against each other, larger
than what we longed for.
I join a bereavement group
But I last for one session
Marriages over fifty years
Long battle with cancer
I am the only one
Who isn’t crying
You touched my chest with your fingertips
as I lay next to you trying to sleep.
“Try to rest,” you said, by which you meant,
Gird your loins, my love, and prepare your heart,
for tomorrow I may leave you.
Outside, crowded maple trees
soften themselves and glisten.
Weeping, they unroll their leaves.
On the subject of serial killers, poet Ruth Danon writes that they “leave notes, write in code.” They “grow increasingly impatient.”
“They hate the dark,” she muses. “They want to be found.”
So do poets. And Danon’s latest collection, Word Has It (Nirala Publications, 2018) reads like a series of notes dispatched from the brink of an apocalypse. Birds fall from the sky. Red-eyed people weep. There is blood. Dark, ominous omens of all shapes and sizes rain down.
It was six o’clock on a steamy January evening in Sao Paulo when Roland saw the toad. He was walking home along Alameda Santos with his ancient Nikon at the ready, searching for photographs. This was his pleasure after a sweaty day teaching English to...