Kenji C. Liu, Four Poems













(Original English version (below) published in Ozone Park Journal, 2013)





Kenji C. Liu Author PhotoKenji C. Liu’s forthcoming poetry collection Map of an Onion is the 2015 national winner of the Hillary Gravendyk Prize. His writing appears in The American Poetry Review, Asian American Literary Review, Barrow Street Journal, CURA, RHINO, Split This Rock’s poem of the week series, and several anthologies. He is also the author of the poetry chapbook You Left Without Your Shoes. A recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, VONA/Voices, Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and Community of Writers at SV, he holds an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Social Transformation.

Uche Nduka, Five Poems

A Maulstick

A maulstick is what i have in common with you. On the other side of the orchid we agreed to quote each other out of context. Some say they browned a nutshell browned a record. If a poem can’t save me i don’t know what will. Savannas that groan. The move, Mexican serapes. The move, Dutch Renaissance light. White heron Lodestar the task of backwaters. As i babble about chaos post-cafe. Killing the killing floor. Tonight after a birdwalk i’ll worship a barmaid. Ample reasons to be graceful/grateful. & the damn highway bumps against Gregorian Chants. Mugwumps brainstorm. Sex anoints us. Dervish parabola quanta. Poetry is inconvenient. When it all comes down to arsenal. Spewing from a carton a sorority much smarter than i am. Hotfooting it out of one-stop-shopping. Lipstick sniper fire microphone. Passion to compassion nothing is holding you down. I know enough about my pratfalls to know it would be hazardous to flirt with you. Doesn’t surprise me you always consult the saltshaker. No avoidable delay goes unpublished. From bumblebee to musket to muskrat. How to overcome taxonomy. To create reserves for a resilient diet of idleness. There is a need for outrage & i don’t want to always come across as nice to him or to her. Self-concept     self-judgement      self-torment. Eruptions in the face of it. I hear someone scratching his balls.




This Is Where I leave You

this is where i leave you where i leave you a leaf. scratch tape    miserable shovel   box-office dud wrings every ounce of melancholia out of you  jockstrap  skeletal  jet lag  bedlam attached to the bone. expects more of you. dumbbell watching out for you. some false floss. the heart of the buyer’s guide. i know someday i will save all my dawns for you. stuff like shipwreck & electric chair. junkyard mutant midgets. paperbacks demobbed. slip the horn into the gin of a shellsucker. worth hearing what’s blossoming in kabuki Bop. nation-building gone to seed. pawnshop diving & busted harmonium. jivey ranchera. joy in my billfold. a taste for obituaries & flowered shirts. liftoff is the place the face of every wave. shoehorn in a drizzle. ivories & clover. you get to the point where you are no longer a private eye. a blind man feeling up an elephant. it gets to the tedious business of pulling winning tickets. taking a dip a peach to beat the heat. sawu bona. another ceasefire broken. selected wacks laugh till life makes sense. popupshop    curvygirl    violetxylophone. through a keyhole, tightly. the freaks of fishnets. don’t let the tunnel fool you. nutcracker rouge where a shuffleboard has gained traction. motherlode sextett from the scratch. too much honey for a jam. takes embellishment down a peg. hints from the underground. of raffles & horror we have no measure. a washtub chuckles.




Why Did This Thrill Find Us

why did this thrill find us no crying now you said to your nightgown no crying now i said to my pajamas you could leave or enter wait or depart wait with anticipation or wait without hope without plan you could muse or sulk sit or stand you could be or not be yourself arrange or not arrange a thing with or without projection or contemplation could be outside our existence outside our difference pressed together or not beyond the thrill mentioned or not fused or not completely in sequence or not retreating from interruption or not cross statelines or not accept onyx or not  standoff  swag strumpets cookie mush alliance confrontation prelate tripartisan midterm refund privatizing hot button survivalist in the final stretch with network blindsided cellulosic disclosure litigation bone graft doorskin initiative preventive paperwork carefree vernacular carousel defunct lip reader kinky clue sad sack jubilee fuel-pump brake cats leverage dot-com perks watergrass tapes early draft of a motorcycle accident no disgruntled gropings you should be laid or hospitalized bloodmoon living the high life two of your favorite roof decks space is not a luxury textile shrimp massage shambhala heirloom grill fabric trail beards opossum baronial bargain ambassadorial tortoise shell doesn’t lack for charm or critical clitorial




Blue Mist White Stone

well done, cavern
ruckus or maudlin lovers

talk to me of dragnet
a northern spell or drawing board

when you turn every which way
and keep coming back

purpose does not
trump pleasure

on the other hand i have
not seen the light

sister of crystal and velvet
the contrabass in your family tree

all the birds that belong
to a roadside mirror

puddle-jumping with babies

my days are dizzy
but you can come along for the ride

we’re pliant in the hands of dreams

i’ve got to go i’m running
too late but you’ve got
to doublecheck the address

if i had any sense i
would hop into the trolley
car and forget all about
the rainbow

robins waved at us
and morning came furiously
third of june

the marsh loved the sky
your shoulders hummed
prospect place epiphany

nightshade eyelash
round the flame sweeter
than sweet

a day swims past a tower
the toll of alders

blue mist white stone
hot pants apocrypha

i love you with the mural
in the courthouse with
the boat in the harbor with
the cherry at the gatepost
with the tangle of silence

we wander we beg drag queens
to spend a little more time with us

the sprawl of guts had left
its mark on sage brush

left its mark on a greasy
gatherer of buckles

you never,never could get
away from the unslick
the cruel evacuation

a different way to address you
to track the black veins
of poinsettias




The Sea Is Writing

this is not a done deal.
with or without impunity
for fluted pain.

start with separation, the inevitability
of separation from sepia,flesh,bed.

the sea is writing. the moon is in opposition.
patois is the least of their problems.

needing to make sure no limit awaits him.
needing to make sure no limit awaits her.

the exit signs are warnings of blissed out
madeleines. i make demands on you in these
pages i make demands on you in the streets.
and if my night flows to Lagos,let it be. five
dudes in flannel. the riffage responds to the
urgency.enter the tupperware. even in this
witching hour i’m not about to dismiss normalcy.
propellers edge near the luckless. the pitiless crowd
have been screwing with us all this time.but
the grotesque has been kind to us. and you can’t
draw the blinds on ” hands up, don’t shoot”.
as long as the steam keeps rising.



Uche NdukaUche Nduka is a Nigerian-American poet, essayist and collagist. He was awarded the Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize for Chiaroscuro in 1997. He lived in Germany and Holland for over a decade, and was the recipient of a Goethe Institut Fellowship and Heinrich Böll Haus Guest Author Fellowship. His books include eel on reef, Ijele, Nine East, Belltime Letters, Heart’s Field, If Only The Night, Flower Child, etc. He teaches at CUNY and resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife the Photographer/Artist Fiona Gardner and their daughter Sula.

Janice Lobo Sapigao, excerpts from microchips for millions

the clean room

in order to come in,
you must first put on:


shoe covers





boot covers



when you exit,
you must discard:





boot covers

“no, you cannot bring
anything inside the room.
no cell phones,
no watch, no nothing.”

“you have to go
to the changing room
before you go in to work”

“i always wear my head band.”

“they don’t like you
to wear sneakers.
they like you wear
the shoes they give you.
my feet is hurt”

“it’s hard to breathe,
sometimes. oh my god”

“you can only
call me on
my break, okay?
8:30 or 12:30”

“i can only wear t-shirts.
the loose kind for work.
it’s better because
you sweat a lot”

“i can’t, balasang. i can’t”

“you have to wear
a suit. goggles.
is covered.

“you can’t touch anything.
you have gloves. they will
get mad on you”

the praise

my mother builds
the backbone of the silicon valley
you can say she’s
single-handedly responsible
for the microchip revolution

my mother                 is a step ladder

is a spine
                 is a skeleton                  is a muscle

is a labor force is vertebrae is a staircase

is the key to a multi-millionaire’s business

is a person.

all hail
the silicon valley
may you all
power up,
aggregate the future,
sip the coffee made
by your interns,
and allow me
to ask sincerely,



















the cry

the cry

tell them we go to church on sundays
tell them spending christmas together
                             is a tradition we need to start soon
tell them about the blisters behind your ankles
              or the calluses that outline your step
tell them about your queendom
              that you can’t preside over your people if you’re not home
tell them buildings are a poor substitute for sunlight
tell them about living paycheck-to-paycheck
tell them about your arthritis
tell them that i ripped your beltloops when i was six
              clawing onto you because i didn’t want you to go to work that day
tell them about how starting your shift is a sentence and
              punching out your timesheet is freedom
tell them you’re sick today
              that you’re sick of them every day
                             that work is not a place without a place to sit
                                                  that free snacks and more hours don’t fool you
tell them that microchips don’t have feelings
tell them about your garden
              and how soil reacts to water
                      how you chip off thorns with uneven fingernails
                             or how your orchids finally bloom yellow, pink and purple
tell them they can’t automate your spirit
tell them they can’t outsource your humanity
tell them dignity is priceless
tell them you miss the mid-day radio
tell them you miss the price is right
tell them that it’s confidential
tell them some things are better left unsaid
tell them machines performing over 1,000 chemical reactions are dangerous
tell them they’re hazardous
tell them what the doctors said
              how your knees creak
                      how dad massages your feet every night
tell them we don’t care about who they are
              since they do not know us
tell them in ilokano
tell them in tagalog
              or vietnamese
                      or spanish
                             or khmer
tell all of your co-workers, my aunties
tell them to say no
tell them you say no
tell them no
              you don’t want to
              you’re not going to work today
              you’re not going to work
tell them that today
              the silicon valley resigns
                      tell them you run the town
tell them that they work for you.
tell them 01101110 01101111


the valley of toxic fright






SapigaoJanice_photoJanice Lobo Sapigao is a Pinay poet, writer, and educator born and raised in San José, CA. Her first book microchips for millions is forthcoming from PAWA, Inc in Fall 2016. She is also the author of the forthcoming chapbook toxic city (tinder tender press, 2015). She earned her M.F.A. in Critical Studies/Writing at CalArts. She co-founded an open mic in Los Angeles called Sunday Jump. She lives in the Bay Area and teaches at Skyline College and San José City College. Please visit her website: janicewrites.com

Gary J. Shipley, Four Texts

State Funded Zoo

Snakes and frogs gather outside the terrariums. They begin their day by poisoning each other, before mating with the plug sockets. The holes in the glass are smooth and perfectly round. We suspect they licked their way out. There is the unmistakeable sound of chimpanzees fucking a reluctant hyena. And in the distance, the thunderous whimper of tigers eating elephants alive. They do it slowly to keep the meat from spoiling. The herd has sacrificed enough tiger mouthfuls to make a whole other elephant. And yet it still walks, circling the enclosure like one big grey Alzheimer’s patient. The last female giraffe is a howler and a slut. All the hoofstock are displaying signs of frontal lobe disorder. No rhino has moved in weeks. Their heads are now birdcages. The one remaining red panda has lost its mind through prolonged insomnia. Now it’s the stray rabbits that eat him. And as of today, nine of the ten male rhesus monkeys have masturbated themselves inside out.



Being the whole lot all at once – the born thing, the to-be-dead thing, the now thing – is one thing making many uncomfortable strangers of itself. It’s a man in a house with every past part of him intact: the hair (stuffed into drawers), the dead skin (worn by the furniture and the sheets on his bed), the nails off his fingers and toes (looking like skulls made of moons trapped inside jars), and the thousands upon thousands of daily excretions he’s passed (now linings for the walls slowly closing him in). The end is too much. It’s the house falling through the crust of the earth. And coming out the other side.


Car Park

Every morning I clear my underneath of women. And there’s usually at least one that hasn’t survived the night. They can be hard to get out. If they’ve managed to squeeze themselves up under the drive shaft or the transmission then it can take me an hour or more to clear. Most of them are wise to it, but I still replace the broken glass and the tacks when I’m done. I drove into this car park about two years ago. Reckoned it was still Detroit then; it isn’t anything now. Just what’s left of a few cars and what’s left of a few people living in them. Might pass for a community if anyone spoke to anyone. Everyone’s too busy fixing leaks and keeping their windscreens clean, too busy growing babies in the dead women. More like a kind of fetal vegetation than actual babies, but sometimes, most often the moment your teeth go in, they can approximate the noise of the real thing. At the root of this food supply is an unnatural act, but one that nature has since rewarded. One after another in strict relay, staggered so as to preclude any more than one depositor ever being present at the site, we creampie a trench pre-fashioned out of the swell in the female’s stomach. The crop arrives within the day and is deemed ripe when her eyes are seen to turn like coprolites in their sockets.


Echo Chamber

The scene is complete. No one fidgets. Tension keeps the place together with thin interlocking fibres. In the middle of the room the girl in white knickers is being suffocated with a towel. Her mother does it. Her face is a camera. It is not sexual perversion. The pregnant woman in the corner reads the patterns on a map. The bottoms of her legs have disintegrated through lack of use. Her cunt is shot in black and white. In slow-motion, upside down. When it sings the room will wipe itself clean. In the walkways, of which there are none, those stupefied to the point of collapse will collapse. The way the girl continues to die is not ambiguous.


Gary-Shipley-PhotoGary J. Shipley is the author of numerous books, including You With Your Memory Are Dead (Civil Coping Mechanisms, forthcoming), Gumma Homo (Blue Square), and Dreams of Amputation (Copeland Valley). His work has appeared recently in Fanzine, Sleepingfish, Vice, Hobart and others. More details can be found at Thek Prosthetics.