Back to Issue Thirty-Five

from outside voices, please


Whether/When my perception is narration or just flesh.

Remember it is… __ the __ of __.

In the daytime, when the men were gone, they would take out all of their books and read as much as they could.

You may chew loudly, you may chew quietly, or you may chew not at all.

That oral fixation may be linked with word despair.

I slept with a man once who sucked on his shirt collars like a toddler. But it didn’t draw me away.

I loved the way his buttocks were strong but flesh.

I told him he had a footballer’s ass but that wasn’t really true. He had his own ass.

My favorite living professors survived the epidemic.

But their friends did not.

Young athletic girls do naked cartwheels during a truth or dare birthday run.

Space, and as such, pathology.

Your conclusions do not hold.

Or, maybe speech just comes from raw ground furtively.

Red book, I was afraid of you.




There is a word that exists, it exists very much.

And there is a door where a heart is, a little attic door with a little attic string at the plate.

You might have jumped to the conclusion that a word was put there, but you would be so wrong.

And if you’re asking or expecting them to keep carrying on, her to her,

then you must be mistaken.

It’s not a mountain.

It’s not a lodge.

It’s not a town.

And there’s a curved road for cars, but people in this area respect pedestrians. Respect precedes fear here.

The use of the word “powerful” to describe literature goes out of fashion in the late 2010s among the white East Coast camisoles.

Yes, there is a word that exists.

As time exists.

Time unjumping from windows.

As strawberries. And ghosts are time too.



I don’t dream of a timeless text.

But I believe chance, and not god, has spared me.

I study from the view of fanciful skirts.

Sex dreams.

It’s true, I no longer want a timeless, even worthless, text.

But I can be a real wimp when push comes to shove.

I can be a wuss beside the bedside in commander uniform.

Truly, there, it commands a text on/from the badges.

And text, carved, into the nightstand.

All around us, into the ceiling of the spaceship, commanding.

And I think a loveless life is all agent, sounds like bull shit.

But the screening, the demoing or memoing, ought to/would indeed be brief.

Everything from this world, invented or not, would otherwise just bend towards one overall arc.

I told my first daughter she could become an actor, but she had to write and direct her own script first. On my second, I gave up.

Consider this cancer specific to appreciation of music and thereby close proximity exposure to blue tooth.



Heart, and, thereabouts, sound, at maximum capacity.

She said, I really shouldn’t read poetry anymore.

I read what was available to me.

Whatever I hadn’t read that was somewhere in the building, I’d read.

And if there was overflowing foam somewhere, I didn’t hide it.

And, what’s more, because something in my body seemed to be

rejecting it, like a rejected gum graft,

I wouldn’t offer to give guests just any tour of the building.

I listed off the names of my friends…

I was not ashamed of the names of my friends, but I knew I could

never live up

to those names myself.

(I’ve made this mistake a thousand times.)

And so, in my mind, I was stuck.

I wrote out our WiFi, some recommended restaurants nearby, a

reminder to turn the lights off.

In my experience, travelers are generally of similar minds when it

comes to waste.

And yet they exude waste.

Mark Baumer was a traveling poet who died traveling by foot, as a

measure against waste.

We had a couple mutual friends.

If Mark was a white man in America who spoke English and had an

American passport, which he was (the very last detail of which I can

only suspect) and died doing this, I can only imagine…

A wasteless text might exist.

A wasteless text might exist.

I could protect this mind, and stay alive, but still be stuck.

So I began rereading old books I had already read. Once again.

In uniform, her language had no more illusion for her, you see.

And I would go down to a place called the Ohio bar and order, like,

something totally not me, an egg cream.

And I would take a quiz and be reminded of driving.

Though it’s possible for anti-illusion to maintain dance and costume.

It must actually.

And then I would have no need for continual absorption as I had in the

days preceding.

That’s how the property records are double checked, are checked off.

She gets up on the nightstand.

That’s when the sound is turned off.

She unscrews the vent.

That’s how when she touches her at the mouth and then transcribes.

You— All of this— All of this… Is— (muffled speech)to…


Valerie Hsiung is a poet, writer, performer, and the author of four full-length poetry and hybrid writing collections: YOU & ME FOREVER (Action Books, 2020), outside voices, please (CSU, 2021), hummingbird et partygirl (Essay Press, 2022), and e f g (Action, 2016). Her work can be found in places such as The NationThe BelieverNew Delta ReviewPEN AmericaBlack Sun LitGhost ProposalThe RumpusPoetry NorthwestAPARTMENT, Chicago Review, jubilat, Denver Quarterly, Paperbag, and beyond. She has performed at Treefort Music Festival, DC Arts Center, Common Area Maintenance, The Poetry Project, Casa Libre en la Solana, Poetic Research Bureau, Shapeshifter Lab, and The Silent Barn. Born in the Year of the Earth Snake and raised by Chinese-Taiwanese immigrants in Cincinnati, Ohio, she now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more at

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