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shiv k


and i have been co-opted


by * pretty greed. nothing is mine, the skin peels back off my finger. i am reminded of a blooming flower. nothing here belongs to me. and everything must belong to somone.


and so i do instead.


my limbs are ghost. the suicide rewrites itself reclamation. the work is a confessional. but the

priest feels himself in the other booth. the confession rewrites itself betrayal.


who emerges dirtier?


i rent out library books. i sharpie my name over each page till the whole thing is unreadable.

each of my selfies are made into stamps. i send numerous wedding invitations to stiletto-ed strangers in cities with dogs on leashes that they don’t walk themselves. * is a pretty girl with a boyfriend i think is cute. so i shove my face into the couch pillow. and eat all of my anxiety. and ugly. and it spreads green. infects the whole house. till we are sopping moss.


i watch new girl till i die. i watch my depression magick the clock. i watch * eat my insides and i have to say thank you. nothing is mine.


not even this coaxing body



do you dream me witch. or beast. or friendly doormat. i know who has the talons and it’s not me.

i want to tell someone i am still a boy. i kiss a girl and i am full of red balloons. & they pop. of course. i kiss another girl and she snaps me cocaine. i am not one to fall involved with. * feels

guilty & this time she is with kindness. my silence across oceans is much easier to digest than my softest anger across the table. * says we could wait for progress. you could just churn me. i am hiding out. under my father’s premature disappointment. i keep the abuse at bay. i’m so needed here.


*any white woman’s name

Xtreme Symbiosis


In Which

I Sacrifice Each Old Limb

till i have devolved

and strayed from my predetermined genetic discourse

  to be slummed and stay slummed


Jess says she can pay me what she owes me because it seems urgent. that i am in need & needy my mother carried an ocean that harbored her parents’ funerals for months before she could get back home and still do american capitalism better than yours this is a stupid way to win. to excavate the mouth of its teeth and tongue because someone else swallowed our necessity.


Xtreme Symbiosis: In Which

I Am An Adaptation This Country Will Not Claim

labels me parasite

for a hunger that didn’t begin with me

but for a hollowed-out lineage-

a beast my parents could not name,

but still survived its acid.


Xtreme Symbiosis: In Which

The Administration Labels My Survival Ungrateful,

but i am adapting even when i am conforming and forgetting


my mother’s bridal gold is stolen

in the white neighborhood

betrayal slides in quietly

through the front door

decades later, without asking


& we do not speak of it


this is how this ecosystem rids me of myself,

makes me complicit in my own disappearing act

makes me grateful to wiki my own history

makes me beholden to a white set of hands benevolent enough to rewrite my own

flesh memory


America feasts. America does what America does in his arrogance


Xtreme Symbiosis Finishes its Happy Ending in a Shakira Music Video:

open up a desi grocery store/high end club

the dish tonight is my minced tongue, the newest exhibit

i lost my id.

i can’t find my way in.

my father spelt my name wrong on my birth certificate

  that’s just not how it was done in their country.

my mother tells me to be safe, for her sake, to not be too visibly foreign.

  i remind the cop my passport is american.

shiv k is a queer Malayalee American poet. They are a fan of most things, almost always overwhelmed by the fact that the universe is constantly expanding, and are a firm believer that time is not linear.

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