Back to Issue Twenty-Four.

we play a game using tomatoes

BY DUY DOAN

 

 cà
Whoever steps on the seeds

 ca
loves to sing on penis,

 chua
and will patiently endure his

 chua
future wife's nagging.
 

 cá
The fish in the pond feed looking up.

 cá
They play on our expectations

 chùa
and hopes of pleasing others

 chùa
and hopes of pleasing ourselves.
 

 ca
We’ve never gone that far,

 ca
we’ve never been with each other.

 cà
We want to eat each other,

 chua
eat each other whole.

 

______________

NOTES: 

- tomato
ca – sing
chua – sour
cá ­­– fish
chùa – temple
cà chua – tomato

 

 

the roundworm travels up from the foot

BY DUY DOAN

 

(Having to have a body)

Survival instincts: I turn myself into a smaller target. Thriving instincts: I put myself into situations where my pupils dilate.


(Boxing)

To make yourself into a smaller target. You’re a beautiful silhouette, revealing only one shoulder at a time, constantly rotating clockwise behind the heel of your pivot foot.
Avoid the left hook, the left shot to the body, the straight right. Keep your rhythm.

                                    

(Dancing)

In the dark, with the music, there’s no need to be a silhouette; your shoulders can be square to others. One goal: to be a string undulating between two fixed points.
Move sharply and quickly if you’re not feeling graceful tonight; slowly if you’re feeling confident and have nothing to hide or if your pupils are especially alive.



(Mermaid birth)

The amniotic sac is intact and someone has to puncture it. Then
baby’s song: so brave and so beautiful. His rotator cuff, the examining table, unused forceps and ventouse.

Silver nitrate
eye drops: then Judy Garland is in color.


(The roundworm travels up from the foot only to be swallowed again)

I ran first thing in the morning, sub-24 minute 3-miles. I’m the fastest. Today is a big day in a big way. Hot shower, a half-mile walk to the T.
It has been at least 12 hours since I consumed salt. I am cold, fresh water. I am the whale
bursting out of the Arctic.


(Boxing)

You’re beautiful as a silhouette, in and out in and out. Masterful. You made weight again;
hydrate back to 134. Don’t let your shoulders be square to anyone. Don’t be the midpoint of the base of an isosceles.

(Dancing)

I ran first thing in the morning, sub-24 3-miles. I’m the fastest. Hot shower, a half-mile walk to the T.

It has been at least 12 hours since I had salt. On the train, the guy sitting across from me has
what must be vomit on his shoes, not caked on but still glistening. Like me, he is purged.
He is cold, fresh water.


(Buckeyes)

We piled them up
for ammunition. We lay down with them
among the bruised leaves so that we could
rise, shining.


(The roundworm travels up from the foot again)

Shower, Clobetasol foam, Dove Men-Care Post-Shave Balm,
Tretinoin cream, Joico Matte Clay or Molding Clay or Water Resistant Styling Glue. An apple.


(Boxing)

Brody fails to make weight


(Dancing)

I’ll move
slowly tonight. Madonna, Laurent
Korcia, Iron and Wine.


(Buckeyes)

We piled them up
for ammunition. We lay down with them
so that we could
rise, shining.


(Dancing)

Ecstasy turns us into moths.

I’m an embryo in the mother’s womb.
I sleep hidden in you.
Don’t give birth to me yet.


(Dilated pupils)

Hyperbole and the coquette.


(Mermaid birth)

The amniotic sac is intact and someone has to puncture it. Then mother’s wooing: so overwhelming, so alluring. New Order, Erasure, Lorde, glitter, eyeliner. Judy Garland is in color.

 

______________

NOTES:

-“having to have a body”: Frank Bidart, “Writing Ellen West,” from Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2013).

-We piled them up/for ammunition. We lay down with them/among the bruised leaves so that we could
rise, shining
: adapted from Rita Dove’s poem “The Buckeye,” from Grace Notes (W.W. Norton, 1989).

-I’m an embryo in the mother’s womb./I sleep hidden in you./Don’t give birth to me yet.: Adapted from Anna Swir’s poem “The Iron Hedgehog,” from Happy as a Dog’s Tail (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985), translation by Czeslaw Milosz with Leonard Nathan.

 

 

Doan 24.png

Duy Doan is the author of We Play a Game, winner of the 2017 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in PoetryPoetry NorthwestSlateTriQuarterly, and elsewhere. A Kundiman Fellow, Doan received an MFA in poetry from Boston University.

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