Food Poem 1 – Wontons (huntun)

27 04 2017

In the beginning
there was nothing –
this was huntun.

nothing grew lonely
turned in on itself
and from emptiness

hothouse meat
in delicate shells
that break open
to release

the first
of satisfaction
a homecoming



17 04 2017

Is a woman
Something that men even want anymore?
Or do they want girlfriends and assistants
models and mothers
wives and sisters
fantasies and servants
nurses, vessels, and whores?

Do they want me
foaming from the sea
the tang of batteries
between my legs
and my ancient instinct
listening like antelopes
on the Serengeti

Do they want me
dirty, damp, and base
mouth full of tongue
and taste and invectives
Acidic, unyielding and frank
Hair unwashed for days and days
because I like the smell
of wax and leaf litter

Do they want me
with my broken windows
and warehouses of gleaming eyes
watching from the dark
and smiling and snarling

And if they don’t want me,
could that absolve me?
Set me free
to run, to jump, to dive
and let the waves carry me
back to that place from whence
Venus first strode in from the tide?

Diary of Tarantula Lau – February 16th

17 04 2017

I cut through the university grounds today. Found a gap in the fences around the large field by the gate and walked on the grass to feel it under my feet. It was brittle, and pale yellow – the color high class women favor for the parlor or the bedroom walls.

I wanted to fill my eyes with only one thing. Ignoring my black boots and dark green stockings, I was able to do so. The pale yellow seeped into every corner of my vision. It reminded me of the day they gave me away.

We were the first ones to walk on the blanket of snow that had fallen the night before. She was sniffling, but I don’t think she was crying. He coughed, because he’d spent another night sleeping by the stove in the folding bamboo chair. Our kang was narrow. Three pairs of footprints made a black trail of footprints behind us, but the ground before us was pristine, monochrome, glinting and almost blue.

I left the field, and walked over the bridge. For some reason, every university in China has a river running through it, and at least three bridges.

There was an old woman in a small grassy clearing surrounded by trees. The glade and the veranda reminded me of old ink prints of imperial concubines – Consort Yang with attendants on a terrace. Except the old woman, though zaftig with the bulk of several outer garments, would never be mistaken for a great beauty of ancient China.

Head down, she paced slowly across the clearing, contemplating each footstep like it would be her last. I wondered how she came to be at the very center of the university, if this was part of her routine. Her daily bread.

Rise at seven, and pass through the neighborhoods flanking the school. Make her way down the stairs, across footpaths, past students, bicycles, and cars all missing her vortex. Step, slowly, for hours, to arrive at this glade, which she probably thinks of as her glade. To pace back and forth, looking at the pale winter grass, filling her eyes with just one thing.

I took the bus to Taoranting Park, and sleeping on the way, dreamt of them for the first time since coming here. They were stepping carefully through the snow, placing one foot in front of the other, like it would be their very last, and between them was a hollow.

A shadow. Just wide enough for a ghost.


23 03 2017

It was just a pot plant

set beside the armchairs

in the Costa coffee shop


But the curvature of the leaves

the transition from yellow to dark green

the shadows laid against each other

crescendoed into such a significance

that for a between-time instant

I loved so much I felt myself rooting into earth


while I walked to the counter

for an apple juice

I love you, chickadee

22 03 2017

It’s just you and me, chickadee

in this labor called life

You and me to toil beside each other

to face the dismantling of our body

(our poor, tortured, blameless body

that we neglect

and scrutinize in turns)


You and me to pick each other up

in the aftermath of inevitable unkindness

and disappointment from other people

(how CAN they be so callous

and how CAN they be so inattentive

and how CAN they fail to witness you

time and time again)

They are only they and themselves too

and really, chickadee,

were you really there EVERY time they needed you?


I believe in you, chickadee

you are where the poems come from

the one who notices the magnolia blossoms

so white and heartbreaking

against the dark morning sky

the one who tells me to love people

and objects and animals and the sky

even though it’s painful

and humiliating and I am ashamed


And I’m sorry, chickadee

for all the times I punished you, called you names

and told you to be different, to shut up or to go away

because you are the one who dreams inside

who sees the small shoots growing through the cement

and cries


I will protect you, chickadee

when your feelings get too big

and they start to turn inward

when you start slashing at the walls of our home

(which is our body and our self)

I will be there to take the razor from your hand

hold you and tell you that we are all alone

but it will be alright, chickadee

Why I fiction

20 03 2017

I think perhaps many people in this world generally feel pretty good about themselves. Once in a while, they get rejected, or they do something embarrassing so they lose this positive sense of self, but they recover.

I am the other kind of person. The kind with a dark, hard kernel of self loathing at the very centre of her being composed of every stupid, shameful, embarrassing thing she has done since infancy. The kind that tries to write a blog post three times, and deletes all three because she decided they were 1. Too embarrassing 2. Too ‘what I should be writing about’ 3. Too weird or honest.

I keep a secret tally of all the stupid things I have ever done, and once in a while, I go over them mentally so that I can beat myself up about them.

One of my earliest memories is of playing with a friend while I was still in China. I remember she slapped me. The act was inscrutable, so I ran to her house to tell on her. Her house was dark and narrow. Her father was lying on the bed with one leg in a cast. I blurted out what his daughter had been doing then immediately felt ashamed about it because they seemed poor, and he was injured.

I’ve carried this weird scrap of memory with me for 27 years but I can’t remember what I ate for lunch two days ago.

I also sometimes revisit how weird I was in my early teens. I’d just gotten out of a childhood where I spent large chunks of time totally alone, just marinating in my own fucked up child brain, and I really did NOT know how to live in a world where people suddenly care what you wear or how you behave. And I wanted friends. I really really wanted friends. So I thought the best way to make friends would be to yank on peoples’ backpacks so that they would fall over onto the ground or to hit them on the head with a stick of beef jerky. One time, I thought I saw someone I knew, so I went up behind her and smacked her on her pretty blonde head with a giant stick of cured meat. She turned around, and she wasn’t one of my lowly nerd friends, oh no, she was a popular girl, and I was then doomed to be embarrassed about the stupid incident for the REST OF MY LIFE.

I still feel embarrassed about it, even today. Even right now, this instant. My cheeks are flushed and I am experiencing a slight urge to pee, because that’s what embarrassment feels like to me.

It isn’t fair that such a non-event should stay with me all my life and become central to my being, while Brianna gets to live her life without even a memory of the event.

Then again, maybe growing up, her dad pooped in her shoes on a regular basis or something. I don’t know. Can’t judge a pretty blonde book by its cover.

Then again, maybe she’s one of those super tall and skinny girls who, like, works as a taster for a Russian caviar company or has her own lifestyle blog that gets profiled in Vogue or something.

Then again, maybe she is also staring at the onset of her 30s while the realization dawns that her talents, dubious as they are, will never gain more recognition than Courtney Stodden’s tits.

As an aside. I really feel like I understand women who get boob job after liposuction after boob job. If I thought getting plastic surgery would help dissolve this papilloma of self-loathing I’ve got, I would do it. One hundred percent. But they just look more and more miserable, then they get older, and their eyes fill with fear because they’ve obsessed so much about their appearance that they forgot to get a personality.

The world fucks me up sometimes. It’s like the moment you learn to comprehend, shit just starts piling up on top of you.

Intentionally or unintentionally.  Like my mother, who even today sent me an email asking if I would like for her to buy me some coffee that would help me lose weight. That’s how she says “I love you.”

I would prefer it if she would simply say “I love you” or “It’s ok that you are who you are.”

But even if she suddenly became someone who could say things like that, it would be too late, because I’d never believe her because I’m trapped in this perpetuating continuum.

Death Spiral

20 03 2017

After I thought I lost everything, I found I could lose just a little bit more.

It started with the dieting. A meal skipped in the morning, a lunch and dinner merged. Another lap around the park. Then another. I lost. Oh how I lost. And all along the way they kept goading me, kept saying, yes, yes, you look good, you could look better if you just lose a little more. Let go of your desires a little more.

Until the day they stopped. Until the day a stranger told me to eat a burger.

Eighty pounds. Eighty pounds I carved from my body through sheer cussedness and starvation. Maddening, backbreaking exercise. Salad after salad after juice cleanse after salad. I found out that the world still ran contrary to my desires, and with that, I lost the belief that there was SOMETHING I could do, SOMEHOW, to get the amount of approval I need from the people I need it from.

I gained the feeling that I was always cold. A constant, bone-deep chill.

Then Greg told me he was leaving. Not because he stopped loving me, but because he loved me too much, or some lazy, half-sincere blather like that.

I couldn’t blame him. I hadn’t eaten since May, and my behavior of late had been…shall we say, less than kind.

Then they fired me. Something about being difficult to work with, or inability to concentrate on the task at hand, or emotionally unstable….

Then my parents were swept away, and in their wake, I jutted from the earth like a concrete monolith. Far too singular. Far too still.

I lost the ability to define myself against their greater shadow. Absent of the dark, the light is rendered only beige.

The house and the car…I didn’t lose them so much as give them up. The payments. It wasn’t going to…I wasn’t…they kept calling so…

I lost my number. The number I used since I was a tender green shoot of overweight 14 year old.

And I lost consciousness here and there and there and here. Kept losing weight. Though by now it was more of a listless drift than a concerted effort.

I found out how easy it is for a regular member of middle class society to just slip through the cracks like that. How no one can see you flailing in your own head, and no one would be bothered to do something about it, even if they could see.

It reminds me of this thing that Greg told me back when we were still together.

I was lying in bed, flattened in the aftermath of one of those crying jags that comes out of nowhere, and paints the inside of your head the color of a hospital wall. Greg had pulled out a box to distract me from my inexplicable grief, and when I opened it, it had a ring in it. A pretty little ring with a black pearl at the center that sent the linoleum flat landscape away for the time being. I put it on, and he told me he bought it because he wanted to propose to me with it, but was afraid to because it wasn’t expensive, and it wasn’t a diamond. Then he grabbed my hand, and did it anyways.

After I’d said yes, and we were lying there, content and on and off glancing at each other when Greg suddenly said

“Did you know a pilot once ejected from a plane in a nose-dive, and after he jumped out of the plane, it landed safely on the airstrip?”

“No, I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah, the first thing he heard after he ejected was one of the other pilots saying ‘you better get back in'”

“How did the plane land by itself?”

“Something to do with the physics of ejecting the seat. When the pilot launched himself out, it pulled the plane out of the death spiral.”

“Death spiral?”

“It’s this thing when you’re in a plane, and it’s going at constant speed. If you tilt just a little bit, your plane might start slowly spiraling toward the ground like an object swirling towards the drain. There’s no way to physically detect it. That’s why an artificial horizon is so important.”

It occurs to me that the source of all unhappiness might be found in the curious conundrum which arises when one attempts to be oneself, while the voices of others still somehow permeates the consciousness; so that any action is either in defiance of others or a reluctant compromise that makes no one happy.