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Vi Khi Nao and Christine Shan Shan Hou_edited.jpg

Two Poems

Vi Khi Nao

Christine Shan Shan Hou

These two poems have been selected from a larger ekphrastic and reverse ekphrastic project between Vi Khi Nao and Christine Shan Shan Hou. Inspired by Public Domain images, the correspondence explores the interstices of art, queerness, and eroticism. 


I need to give you a sponge bath

I need to give you my full attention

I need to give you my clitrest,

I need to give you my seat cushion

I need to give you my hassock,

I need to give you my zabuton

I need to give you my cotton cocoon

I need to give you my pillion

I need to give you my soft clump of grass

I need to give you my water bed

Young Leopard Pillow on the Run

I listen to Greek mythologies

And touch myself until I cum


This is me playing with

the precision of language


I arrange my bones neatly

on a pile of rocks


And reach my sexual peak

It’s the combination of fear


And helplessness that

Brings me the most joy


The sea monster licks his lips

Andromeda chained to the rocks


A Gorgan flies overhead sneering

I hold my breath and close my eyes


Place a young leopard pillow

Between my legs for comfort


This is me trying to understand

The mechanical nature of desire


This is me transitioning

Into a half moon

Vi Khi Nao is the author of many books and is known for her work spanning poetry, fiction, play, film, and interdisciplinary collaborations. Her forthcoming novel, The Italian Letters, is scheduled for publication by Melville House in 2024. In the same year, she will release a co-authored manuscript titled, The Six Tones of Water with Sun Yung Shin, through Ricochet. Recognized as a former Black Mountain Institute fellow, Vi Khi Nao received the Jim Duggins, PhD Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize in 2022.

Christine Shan Shan Hou is a poet and visual artist of Hakka Chinese descent. Their publications include the chapbook, Evolution of the Bullet (Bottlecap Press, 2023) written in collaboration with Vi Khi Nao;  Playdate (White Columns, 2022); The Joy and Terror are Both in the Swallowing (After Hours Editions 2021); Community Garden for Lonely Girls (Gramma Poetry 2017); and “I'm Sunlight” (The Song Cave 2016). Their artwork has been exhibited at White Columns and Deli Gallery in New York City.

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