Interim Poetics

Wendy Xu

I walked there guilty by tongue but not by mind
The water was breaking on a soft green rock
The rock was breaking underfoot despite a lack of intention
My works contained no genius, only an agitated bouquet of ideas
White ones, sand ones, some almost blue
An image I returned to: deep green tendrils, coarse salt
By day I moved easily enough through the offices of disappointing money
Uninterrupted, nobody stopped to ask for any music
I knew my family’s faces by pinkness and language comprehension
Something like a fond electricity was happening inside of me
I felt I could lie there forever on the tarmac by the sea
A three-legged chair, a clock, a door opening in the surf
My eye passed over without judgment or apprehension
A feeling entered quietly through the four walls of my murky inheritance
Just lost in the technicolor thought of it
A brush stroking to the left, a government whistling as it hurts
I receive its washed-up objects and contain not a single word

More by Wendy Xu

My Dissent and My Love Are Woven Inside Me

I commune with the text by way of railing against the text

The molecular processes of you are never finished

I move through air in the early fall, a cooling spittle, high heat
      days are gone

When the troops leave the replica city, you see that its
      battlements are written in green

A Western style of defense, no birds, all men

Same plaza, white stones, black columns, no memory

You want to walk along the path meant for military vehicles
      and are denied

You want to try falling down where others had before you, and
      are unceremoniously denied

You wanted permission to travel to the mainland to see your
      mother

All of your desires were completely impractical

That is, you did not want to atone for anything you had done

Praxis

I had put down in writing my fear of the war

I too pined for pastoral description

The blue of the water was the blue of the world

Newness does not, for me, equal satisfaction

A finite number of concentric rings I push out into space

A tedious fabric moving through time without malice

An act of oration, rebellion, inventory, fantasy

The sound of the earth closing its one good eye over me

Imagine: you reach out towards the margin’s white hand

You do what your poems want and are clean

When you lay down your thorns you will be done

You do not take up arms against anyone

Looking at My Father

It’s the inside which comes out, as I contemplate
him there half in sunlight, weeding diligently
a Midwestern lawn. On my persons, I have only notes
and a drying pen, the memory of onion blossoms
scenting in a window. Reflection is my native medium.
I am never arriving, only speaking briefly on material
conditions between myself and others. My country
inoculates me lovingly, over time. My country grasps me
like desire. I will show you my credentials, which is to say
my vivid description, if you ask. Here we are, my father
and I, never hostile, a small offering: pointless cut flowers
appear on the kitchen table when one finally arrives
into disposable income. Still possible. Am I living? Do I
accept revision as my godhead and savior?
I do and I am, and in the name of my Chinese father now
dragging the tools back inside, brow shining but always
a grin, faithless except to protect whatever I still have time
to become, Amen.