“Rich/Mound” Poems by guai haizi

my first time

my first time writing poetry i knew i would chase after (no li bai no tiananmen propaganda lust songs no nationalist anthems strung up with raw garlic) shadows of jabberwocky

first goat-bursts of canyon dives, take so much thrill & makes it a child’s, so much free time dreaming we could be two thousands years ago the animals from which I was reincarnated

in my first story i painted gorillas in the sky a plump purple or bright shade of deep dark pink really the kind of sky that would stretch until your eyes snapped & bent & marbled out naked

first time i figured out you don’t just tell anyone about your crush she sprang from the monkey bars & told george the hockey player you could never manage to catch on the fields as you ran

chasing him like you’d know what to do when you caught him, like the first time you asked anyone what gay was carla told you, “it’s what men do” as though, well, we wouldn’t understand

the first & not the last time someone looked at me like prey i realized that bathrooms are places to get lost in are places where you flush down each & every one of your embarrassing imaginary

friends are sometimes frozen in time as people who couldn’t stand the texture of your skin my first time i knew that i could belittle anyone i took the rawness of our surfaces & blew it at her

face the fact that eventually we’d know better yet sometimes we forget how it feels to pound the sides of our brain with tiny fists why don’t they like me what am i always doing this so wrong

my first time singing i couldn’t have remembered a future where hui niang jia meant lock your jaws into place don’t look at your mother don’t look at your father just eat mushrooms & get out

the first time you ever set eyes on another human being & knew you wanted them to want you to carry them home or they can you if they’re too heavy where home is wherever they are first

time you felt so humiliated at a wedding telling a man in a four hundred $ suit about reading the princes of ireland when your mother your father told you nobody cares about your stupid

book an appointment with your gynecologists o friends who have vaginas but close your ears when they claim to know what your 18-year-old legs know the chairs they have grown used to  

the first time a friend told you they were trans they trusted you & your trust grew but could not have prepared for when your gender boscaged grotesque beneath skin as white as sheets of death

in my culture the first object you ever grab from this wooden box of knick knacks is the profession you’d become well even if i picked up an abacus i am sure my fingers slipped on ink

a solid stroke means one the first word i ever said means love in chinese & self in english and well the first time i thought i could love myself i was writing i knew i was writing a poem

myfirsttime
Image by Beverly Ho

10 out of 10

ridiculous facts not published on buzzfeed

1
each lunar new year my mother told me i’ve grown a year older
so when i was 7 i told the kids at my school i was 10
(they didn’t believe me).

2
richmond school board trustee minutes from february 7th,
2000 call musqueam people, on whose territories the island
city squats without permission, “settlers.”

3
during the early nineties in nanjing, jiangsu many people used barrels
as toilets & women with long hair washed their hair
out on the pavements in buckets on the ground.

4
budgies freeze in the coast salish winter;
i never wanted to move to terra nova. i didn’t
learn in latin class what the name really means.

5
“are you from mainland, hong kong, or taiwan?”
playground safety inspectors did not have the resources
to calculate the impact of such questions on 8-year- old hua ren.

6
i was good at squatting before
i used squat toilets. squat toilets
at shanghainese fish markets reek of more than fish.

7
t.s. eliot calls ezra pound
(the inventor of chinese poetry for our time)
on the rotary phone.

8
men on transit love asking me how old i am;
i should always tell them i am 10
(they should believe me).

9
18: how many generations of your ancestors
someone has to curse before you get to call them
rude. sometimes i still spit on the cement.

10
slippery-talk- drawing-flower,
recognize-knife- endure-throw:
you don’t hear how these words relate.


i don’t wanna play piano

because maybe i remember
how mao didn’t let the children touch
the keys to their own toy box

because maybe i remember
revolutionary songs hissing over small
shaking heads & fingers freezing over history

minim rest.
not all time-travel science fictions
make their way out of
the draft sections of your
archive of our own account

quaver rest.
whose unclenched teeth
would you freeze with this composing
not sight-reading
histories out of tongues sharp enough
to slice cucumber, english, ginger into fine strings?

breve rest.
you asked him,
“literally
beat the teacher?”

crotchet rest.
no you weren’t there
& would never understand.
maybe you shouldn’t be talking
to yourself (listen to the women speaking)
but in a house full of holes &
doors that refuse to shut there was
no such thing as silence

sforzando.
and yes the tempo of
history freeze over fingers
buckle seat belts in a roaring
china eastern over
pacific ocean

quaver rest. mezzo forte.
there is no such thing
as air-conditioned silence

large rest. diminuendo.
helicopter                  jet black hair
                   astronaut
                                          satellite
aerial                celestial             alien

long rest.
what do survivors recite
when they cannot remember
the street names where they grew up
long rest.
cannot pronounce them the streets
lost blown up war not all science fictions
time travel farther than
just about 3 seconds

long rest.
i wasn’t there but
mao didn’t let the children touch
the keys to their own toy box
quaver rest.
revolutionary songs hiss over small
shaking heads; fingers freeze over history
& i hear a faint thawing

long rest.
i want to play fortissimo

idontwannaplaypiano
Image by Beverly Ho

guai haizi
guai haizi is a mentally ill queer Chinese settler who grew up on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples in so-called Richmond, BC. their work can also be found in Surrey youth space’s high school zine.

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