Poetry by ERIC JIAHE YANG § Art by Piledriver Theory
The cigarette burnt out but it still smelled sweet.
Don’t you recognize me?
Of course, my father says in Mandarin
You have my lips, no my grandmother’s
You have my eyes, no my mother’s
You have my lighter; no I don’t smoke anymore–
The cracked jade hauled across a wooden port,
ready to depart.
Who stole the jade?
I sit with my father by his hospital bed
I’m quitting smoking cold turkey
He doesn’t get the reference
why the turkey would be cold
he doesn’t want to know
California sun has darkened your skin
he says, made your lips black.
tell me where your grandfather’s bones are buried
Can you find them for me?
Fresh Tom Ford suits, American accent whispers
Ba Ba, ni renshi wo ma?
My father shows me a picture of his son
from twenty years ago, edges faded
I ask him who he is
And my father says I’m not sure
2 09 AM
warm dust and flake
on my skin
it whispers, I hear
hums and gentle swaying,
sweet dreams, a haze
of soft paradise—
women come and go but not Betsy for
I carry her
with me like the
scent of the Tropics in a young bold tiger–
She will be back.
But at 2 09
her perfume and gentle voice
recede into the quiet of the night.
4 47 AM
a dog is barking, a woman is coming
no this is my corner, the warm spot behind the
dumpster I found it they cannot take it from me–
But if it
must be done then let me cut
her soft skin, my dirty used needle
through the veins in her thigh
I must defend. I must defend.
I want more.
Take her pearls. Take her everything.
Who says I’m crazy for wanting