BY ANNI LIU
n.: a 10-foot boundary clear-cut into forest for ease of surveillance
for two years I live within
a mile of the US/
in the tiny apartment
I share with D
and his son
we often walk
down the hill and
behind the gravel lot
where totaled cars appear
once he and his
boy like a blond alarm
cross it without
(and is this the part
of the story I find
when they turn back
toward home two barrel-
chested officers wait
on the tracks
after a few minutes’
they are free to go
D never mentions it again
but for weeks
vacuuming threadbare carpet
I find myself
in the sunless tunnel
through the woods
an urge comes
into its leafless
domain and cross over
knowing I would not
be able to come back
if I did
but dying to be somewhere
BY ANNI LIU
What is the etymology of flesh—not the arrow of its trajectory to this mouth, but something untended,
blooming. We all know what can come from an omission, an om, which is to say, a humming, a homing.
What were the sounds that surrounded you? Sounds you emulated: breath, teeth, tongue hung, daggered in
your mouth. Sounds embedded in your body (memorize, memorialize) that linger, take hold. (I pledge
Someone else’s mouth inside, trembling your membranes.
A single red flower. An abrasion of color.
Endless translation available: deep love, admiration, pity, a light
Sorry sorry sorry the petals say in their feathery profusion. Or was it happy birthday,
we’re glad you survived, may your survivance be long, may you live past your own life
like these sewn stems—sown? No, sawn.
Piece-meal mouth of a ghost incarnate. It is red. It drinks the water.
It says whatever it is we want it to say.
Hello, one who has been carved by the curved needles of cardinal cries in the rain.
This is your state bird. Famed for its redness (male), its omnipresence. We study it in our reports and never
learn its song.
A man I tried to love taught it to me. This is their mating call. Would his imitation draw the birds from the air
and to his mouth? Now you try. He drilled it into my ear until I repeated it properly: two longs, five descents.
How to translate this song, when it has long been understood as cheer cheer and birdie birdie birdie birdie birdie?
The rhythm thickens. The cardinals continue in the rain. Rise? Rise? We-will-will-will-will-will. Repeat after me: I
pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the—Rise? Rise?