Holding Pattern


Intermittent wet under
cloud cover, dry
where you are. All day
this rain without

you—so many planes
above the cloud line
carrying strangers
either closer or

farther away from
one another while
you and I remain
grounded. Are we

moving anyway
towards something
finer than what the day
might bring or is this

an illusion, a stay 
against everything
unforeseen—tiny bottles
clinking as the carts

make their way down
the narrow aisle
no matter what
class we find ourselves

seated in, your voice
the captain's voice
even if the masks
do not inflate

and there's no one
here to help me
put mine on first—
my head cradled

between your knees.

More by Timothy Liu

An Evening Train

whistles past hacked-down fields of corn, 
heading towards a boy who whittles 
an effigy of himself. We go on sleeping 
through sirens and crimson strobes 
flashing on remains no one can identify 
till we line up at dawn to see who's 
missing. At the zoo this morning, a girl 
found half-devoured in a moat, two lions 
licking their chops, Little Rock, Arkansas 
the only proof left on her body to show 
how far she was from home, a tattered copy 
of The Odyssey later found in her purse. 
Did she love her life? We warn our children 
not to lay their ears down on the tracks 
in wintertime, knowing how it's not 
always best to know what's coming our way.

Exsultate Jubilate

fire in that square floodlit by crimson

gels left onstage a floating red silk 

scarf that snaked around the nimblest calves 

unable to outlast Mozart's legacy 

or Pater's gemlike flame abandoned dream 

erased by edicts of the blood the song 

the space with both feet off the ground 

if only for a moment elephantine 

memory as the curtain falls full weight 

the voice of Kathleen Battle amplified 

fades away five years to the day and still 

your body as it was caught between 

Isadora and the wheel and not what it has 

become a form that those who live must bear

Hard Evidence

A room walled-in by books where the hours withdraw.


At the foot of an unmade bed a bird of paradise.


Motel carpet melted where an iron had been.


His attention anchored to a late night glory hole.


Of janitorial carts no heaviness like theirs.


Desire seen cavorting with the yes inside the no.


A soul kiss swimming solo in an open wound.


The self as church where the whores now gather in.