Poem for the Day: January 27th, 2022

American Deathbed by Jiarong Zhang

is boneboat. We make teeth 

from pennies for our American

toothfairy. We hide them under our

pillow next to our nectarine

acetaminophen. Dali mouths

opening to other mouths

form this neck of history.

I’m sucking my pregnancy

test like a popsicle. I’m

breastfeeding the sea.

You’re in bed with

your video game girlfriend

except it’s you on the screen,

you’re playing in the first person

your lips are kissing your feet.

You’re smoking a cigarette

in the deportees club.

You’re sitting on the toilet

beside your female-gendered

tub. I’m watching an old

woman crawl up the hill

of the city. I’m baptizing

myself in the acidachelake.

The sun is throbbing

into my throat. For who.

For who. I’m scalpel

-ing an ebony. You’re Fishhawk

Midnight. My naked legs

bent into the Geese

-Shaped V. Before we sleep,

you look out the window

to see what’s left of me. Out there,

beyond the American Deathbed,

you tell me there are lesions of

kindness. There are birds

jeweling our sleeps. There

are hyacinths, just purring.

I want my mother to see.

On the moon, you say

look closely to see

a child’s TV

playing infinitely on loop,

just purring with gravity.

I want the old song to play

of my father snoring in his

sleep. Mother yelling at me to

leave. In this twilight,

even anger is so pretty.

Live for me.

© 2014-2020, BOAAT Press. All rights reserved.

I love how playful Zhang is with language in this poem. From the lesions of kindness to the hyacinths, just purring, every image Zhang conjures is haunting in its specificity while abstract in its execution. In the background of it all is an undercurrent of electricity waiting to zap the attentive reader. American Deathbed is one of those poems you can’t read just once, and the reader willing to give it the time and attention it deserves will not regret the decision.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

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