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Xiao Yumi.jpg

Two Poems

Xiao Yumi

Jjimjilbang Necklace​

In this one, I lose

it. It hasn’t left

the grain of old photos,

prospering precious

at the spoon of my throat,

on a red thread

or, on a gold mariner

filament, later

immaterial in the reaching

gasp of the beautiful

stranger who shoves her arm

through the pipe drain’s pubic

hairs and shampoo

only trying to help, then
the way a ruddy pebble always

purses its self into the boolean

no, transcendent of language.

No. It’s not there either.

Let it be stolen,

thrumming on skin

somewhere, just not here anymore.

If I vision it laureled

in sewage, I want to spit

and never stop spitting —

the portent of object - spit -

the negligence of my eyes - spit -

turning away into dustbowls,

glutting loss

dumb-founded in this wet dawn,

naked bodies placid

among gurgling wash-pits and I

prying vents, peripheraling others’ plastic

baskets. Another circle where I last

unclasped it, to bathe.

Do you have anything else of her?

A crate of clothing and paper leaves,

from when she was at the end

and couldn’t speak. At least

there’s that

constant livid search for sense

in remainder, until finally

I’m honeying on the warm floors

prone, quiet. Someone turns

pages next to me,

voices fibrillating into almost language

less ness

save for the puncture

of Korean, English, the woman

who tuts in Mandarin

Your husband is out of control

to her companion and

how I want to crawl there and be held,

for them to fissure

boiled eggs on my forehead

to share, yellow and white

crumbing joy out of our teeth

because with them I find it,

the necklace, seized

so tightly in my palms as to sprout

root underneath, metastatic.


I don’t want to write about that.

Watching those hands in the mirror


tulip, so carefully. Tool,



again I

perform this season. The telephone wires


were like spider silk yesterday down the hill.

That must be worth something.


Now I’m going to write about you.

I will make this you


hazy, so the wound of specificity

is only windchime, airless wind


in the cavity I sat in for years, in disbelief

that the world could still feel taken from you,


even when you didn’t want it in the first place.

Tulip. Its head pastel and heavy


on the ground, the sweetest plague.

I had hoped to fit it with a sheet


as they do for aftermaths,

but you put it on the dashboard, pink


shuttering over every speed bump.

I jolt


where you don’t, eyes

tightening towards half-dusted morns,


springing, ichor

in what you eat, how you shower.


I can’t believe how often you shower.

You must be trying to rinse the rust away,


palms choiring

tulips, tulips


offering them to me as if it’s altruism.

Touch them, you say. Slip them on,


and I give. I spackle parfum

behind the ears


the way you like, to temple

the floe of meat. So that you’ll take me along,


as if you have a choice.

As if we haven’t been together, in this petal heap


since long ago. There are still times

when I become adamant


in salt, and shove grief up

through our mouth, how it comes out


drooling. You hate when I do that.

But I am mostly dun these days,


porous, particulate

in where I step, why I rise.


Air is no longer a drip.

And I rarely consider duct tape’s potential


to suffocate. The tulips bend

then expire in clusters. See?


you say, smiling. I told you.

Xiao Yumi (小玉米) is a painter, writer, and daughter of diaspora currently based in Los Angeles, CA, whose honours include an Academy of American Poets Prize, NUCL Creative Writing Award, and placement as a 2019 Frontier OPEN finalist. She can be found here.

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