Make Believe

Tell me you are a lord of jagged stones that were pillars. Tell me I am wrong about my skin, that it is no fortress. What work of fiction can pacify you who must sleepwalk the line between what is real and what is etch-a-sketch to survive? Pretend the grass is deadly and press me… More

Little Design

after Li-Young Lee I painted my lover on a lake. Since then, the fish bathe her every morning and slide slippers on her feet every night. I painted my lover on a glacier. Since then, my gloves are always on, and all the snow has become a gallery whose exhibits are the evenings, whose plinths… More

Elegy from Chechnya with the Eyes in It

You are in Chechnya as I lick your glass As if it’s not vodka in the glass, but the eyes Of that Orthodox priest Anatoly From the war zone in Grozny The priest from your Chechen stories Whose eyes “with the quiet, pure light” Affected you so much you talked of Nothing but, speaking to… More

Love Poem

¿Don’t you know none of us get work visas? Not all of us can afford coyotes. Most walk, swim, train, run through countries that bribe us. Let me repeat, not all of us can afford to wait around the block 5am to 4 pm just to get denied by the US embassy. We curse gringos,… More

Self-Portrait as Sparrows and Blood

For the price of a tooth, you can buy two from the boy with no legs. One to keep, the other to let. As in ancient times, the first slit open over a bowl of fresh water, the second dipped into the blood of its twin. Water beading on the sheath of its beak. As… More

Imaginary Shotguns

—Jordan Davis and many others There’s a teenager in an SUV, shopping mall, or nightclub with an imaginary shotgun. The weapon belongs to him, but he doesn’t—he can’t—know it’s there. That’s one problem with an imaginary shotgun: if one is unaware of its existence, one might feel safe enough to forget about the possibilities, to… More

Letter to Mike Scalise

On a flight from somewhere to somewhere else, the woman next to me vomits into a bag. She’s polite about it, as if trying not to disturb. The bag fills up, she seals it in a separate Ziploc, and puts that in her purse. Then she starts the process all over. And this, Mike, reminds… More