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Melt Flesh: Three Poems Grown on the Bones of Other Art

Poetry by Jack Xi

 

OF THE THREE TUNNELS RUNNING THROUGH MY CHEST:
(marginalian liwuli chain after shubigi rao’s ‘written in the margins’)

 
 

sister, listen. ask mother of the bookshelves moved,
the brick walls grooved, this land gnashing
through the air where her young body curled
into 

plains within
pages. new words
faceup on tables.

 

can you read everything i can’t leave
out?

will air toughen into walls,
between us,

stoke tunnel’s slope?

 

you asked me “why ‘the boy
and his mothers’?”
why

mother must curse the book, you must bleach it,
nature puts males on a white plane, necking, i
must bubblewrap 3-room flats tight inside

 

drawers – do not ask how i hunch within with their
necking men, how mom’s teeth seem from this
silverfish scale. watch the book between my  

hands, on my pulse: our
      land pulps right through, red
                                    rumble and truck. 

                                    feel yours – can you live
      with five eyes open?

 
 

YOU ARE ALREADY DEAD.”
(after yuichiro tamura’s ‘milky bay / 裏切りの海’)

I am tired of artists holding their bowls together
with lines of cracks stifled with gold. You were tired of flowers
and light hammered into the foil
of fans. We tired of wiry limbs so we rent. There were bodies in mirrors and
a pair of cursed eyes – praying sweat would thread into torn muscles, ivory
sewed in gold. Godly body prosthesis that would never reach your heart.
You scarfed bowls of gold leaf as I did. When you are born you can
        only move forward. 

        the moon was two mountains                when you are born
                on separate planets                 you can only move forward

Scoop out our bodies’ back halves like clay models:
you’d see all human history stuffed behind our arms
as my father and I slammed everything shut. Perhaps
you could then reach fingers in. Dig free dumbbells, white mitres, a konbu
-caked spyglass, and perhaps you’d have halted the biceps back then.
        But when you are born you can only move forward.

        there is no lie in a man who makes                            two things
                  milk                                                                 came apart somewhere

I wonder if you knew what you chewed from his corpse.
I want to tell you that your mother would’ve salted the ocean with her fists
but then so will mine. Of course this is all the wrong tense:
when you are born you can only move forward. 

                       i managed a mile                                               somehow
from where the conch lanced me                    one yet unborn thought to weep
 

Pale cockroaches crawling off after the blade. Hilt clacking on sheath
as the hole opens up. You’re knuckle-deep in your guts. I take a video
       from my neck down, loathing him. Your man watches, shakes, and needs
another second. This is a man’s club; mine does too.                       Two hilts tilting:
       through spacetime’s knead, lines thread wet wrists.        This is a man’s club.
Your head comes off and I’m no longer close. Bellow                     “whEN YOU ARE BORN

THE MERMAN DYE AND ANOTHER MAN TALKING
(a two-man conversation after club ate’s ‘dyesebel’)

He uncouples smoothly and I see bone. Wet pelvis.
I have to turn away as he sets down the conch and the mirror.
He sings. I hear fish shoaling, a monsoon of fins, liquids kissing.
It's 3am on the steps of this river. I hear distant party laughter.
Behind us the buildings cut the night right open. As water swells
and chops the light into fluid rings, he speaks. Over the hush of his liquid
we talk about birds, about cities, why we’ll never want children.
My shoes soak through. Eventually he says you can look now. I turn,
and he has a tail. His legs lie aside, trailing long organs

so many think accusation, smooth proof of our lies. I think of squid.
The lie is what they think that men need to have. My mom watched that show,
he tells me, and unclips his earrings. I thought her name was “DYE-see-ble”.
I remember inking the dresses, until they let me use my brother’s clothes.
To me it’s about writing my lines.
He’s still wearing his binder; it shines, saltwater stains
bleeding through. He quips about what flesh he can’t leave and I twist my lips.
The water still teems; the eels worship his tail, the dark fluid length
of his freedom. Heart breaking, I quip about worship. He grins, lifts the conch
and the mirror, cleaves the light to uncouple my hips. Our eyes meet. He sings, and

                                                                                                                       liquids

                                                                                                                 kiss

 

Jack Xi is a sleepless ball of randomized poetic forms trapped in a MINDEF office. He’s also a goat. He doesn’t like being photographed, which is typical of goats. Jack is new on the Singaporean poetry scene; he does sporadic readings at open mics and plans to submit his works to various anthologies. This year, he has been accepted for publication in the Singapore Poetry Writing Month 2018 and Squircle Line Press’ Anima Methodi anthologies. Most recently, his piece “In the Guts of Your Mooncake an Egg” was nominated as a finalist for the Signature Art Prize 2018 Poetry Competition. You can find Jack on Facebook, where he is very openly goaty. He’ll try not to chew on your yarn.