Dirty Blood

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 stories


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

a little

a little


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