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Sally Wen Mao: Pick of the Week [ed. Terence Winch]

Sally Wen Mao  web




















Tonight, we shrink for no one.

           Tonight, we are afraid of nothing.

                       Not torpedoes, not the long


bodies of submarines or tiger sharks

             that circle beneath us. Not wilt, not tornados,

                         not the dark camps moored to erasure.


We will reel them in, shear their teeth.

               Their husks stew the sea. Tonight, awaken me

                            from this dream of apple blossoms, we’ll follow


the kingfisher downstream, forget what we’re

            confronting. It’s better this way. To mythologize:

                        city of endless crayon, endless sod;


boy riding wild horse in Mongolia.

            Chimeras cannot hurt us

                        even if they were once matter, pestle


grinding mortar. Even the abattoir

            feels unreal— it’s unlikely that we’ll ever

                        witness: creature turning


into meat. The duck hangs whole

            in the restaurant window. We believe

                        it is whole. When we order it plump,


it is cut to pieces in the back room.

            Even invincible, we envy the luxury:

                        a room to bleed in, break apart accordingly.


Sally Wen Mao is the author of Oculus (Graywolf Press, 2019) and Mad Honey Symposium (Alice James Books, 2014). The recipient of an NEA fellowship and a Pushcart Prize, she currently lives in New York. 


Zhang Xiaogang  The Dark Trilogy  Fear  Meditation  Sorrow. 1989-90. Oil and collage on canvas  in three panels

                     Zhang Xiaogang, The Dark Trilogy Fear: Meditation, Sorrow, 1989-1990. Oil and collage on canvas, in three panels.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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