Skip to Content

So, that you are always sir, dear sir

By Kenji Liu

-- for the 43 Ayotzinapa normalistas and all disappeared

I.

Ask me again why I am here
with this pine, this wild oyamel,
their great succulence of reason

You, machine lyric
and State, every state,
maker of rules and so outside them

You, hard blue evenings
with mass emergencies buried
inside them, like me

Your answers endlessly insufficient-
the mayor and his wife, smiling
waving pinkies, waving dollar bills

Sweet water pouring
into the mind of a cardboard box
The verification of empty


II.

Dear sir, the angle of civilization
the angle of your civilization is too steep

I am speaking certain words and not others
Light rises along my spine

This mountain is a white bone
This republic, a one-note instrument

The president-like a president-deciding
is this one as human?

A forest of marigolds between our knees
"Mexicanos, ¿Cuando piensas arder?
¿Cuando el desaparecido salga de tu casa?"

Our altars coated with sugar
no place outside the economy of war

When the pan is all gone we will take leave
a parade of ripples with a snake's purpose

This last remittance will cover the cost
if not I will send more, tied to an eagle

The earth is filled with exceptions-
43, a number, so many numbers

I feel around my dark hold
in search of light switch and decomposition

"Ayotzinapa vive
elestado ha muerto"

Bring back the fire

In the bow of our ship, an entrance
a bullet

Added: Thursday, April 30, 2015  /  Used with permission.
Kenji Liu
Photo by Margarita Corporan.

Kenji Liu is author of Map of an Onion, national winner of the 2015 Hillary Gravendyk Poetry Prize. His poetry is in American Poetry Review, Action Yes!, Asian American Literary Review, several anthologies, and a chapbook, You Left Without Your Shoes. He is a Kundiman fellow and an alumnus of VONA/Voices, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and the Community of Writers. Visit his website.

Other poems by this author