Poetry / December 2016 (Issue 34)


by B.B.P. Hosmillo



—after Cyril Wong’s Unmarked Treasure


The dead breathe again and so do you think you can already forgive, forgive,
remember the gunshot sound that day

when your difference was declared a vector for bullets as only a way for a friend
to enter your house, target house and ask if your mother still knitting
her fears back, if your sister steaming chicken in peanut sauce
again, if your imaginary friend asleep, if your father
the wolf laughing at your imaginary friend's last dream where

two policemen kicked you from behind and another put your head into a black sack

and if your lover, the same beautiful person
that fatal thing, always the flowered thistle emerging from your ass.

So do you ask the dead if coffee might help, if they missed
spreading coconut jam into hot pandesal,

if they would like you
to do those things you have always enjoyed doing for them
and the dead just keep on breathing the same way trees keep on standing.

Breathe, breathe, the dead breathe. Again, again, the dead breathe, again
their mouths bubbling out no word for you, no word for the thing inside you,
and that's how it comes too tragic.


Mourner, the dead don't know you now, the dead
don't know anything in fact the dead
can only breathe and how does that change that day

when your difference was a love that made you improbable
to keep the closest people safe.

You, answered only by photographed moons of a cemetery
so you mourner—

you have always been the midpoint of a riot—
go out for there's nothing safe inside
and not too long go back in for you can't tell if the half-ash, half-mud ground
still separated from the sky, can't even figure out what you're figuring out.

Perhaps too many. Perhaps too little.
The world may have replaced their appeased spaces with unknowable curbs.

After sad o'clock you say we must try to live and I hold your hand

of course, my friend, we are living, living, we are trying,

but even that crosses an instinct not to, crosses
so much honesty that you'd rather be my own therapist, your own illusionist
we're fine, aren't we? we can still count, can't we? we're fine, in this ghastly world,

we can count graves behind stars, those rooms that await for us.


There are blue sardines in the box they left, noodles they didn't eat
and more foods in the television and so much more foods in dreams.
Good for another year. Good for another year. Everything unraveled, untouched,

unraveled, untouchable.

When did it start that food can't mean survival?

When did it start that survival means calming hyenas inside us?

The Spaniards have shown us how animals crawl on hostile days, they have
taught us that a prayer naturally comes out from the mouth.
God Almighty friend of all animals.
God Almighty lover of the dead.

God Almighty driving a truck somewhere, should you hit me, what face
do you want to see me wearing so that you will take responsibility?

Flip a prison table the color of iodine—my friend, that's your face.
For twenty years weary people inked their weary love stories out into it,
spread out into it with snarled beige to brown gums.

And then they forgot how long the next years will be
so they tried to change their love stories, so your face with erasures,
with animal scratches, tips of fingernails growling left, scorched lives.

My friend, did love have to imprison them inside you?

These weary people only with years hard to follow—

These weary people bit your face so that
most of their angry teeth sunk into it,
into it

and you thought it's fine, it's all fine, we have to get by, suffer each other

but they gathered them back because they not yours
because even their teeth don't deserve you
and they not done yet, no, no,

they still gathering their teeth back and it's nothing different
from the pain you have endured.


They gathering their teeth back, digging your face everyday,

everyday you look in the mirror, you mutter,
you mourner, you sob,
you mourner yell what have I been to deserve only the dead—

Everyday is a mirror,
has to mutter, sob, sob,
will have to yell you mourner—


Everyday, everyday, their teeth still the tortures of anger that mostly don't know
what to do with any living being,
even more difficult to dig out now since they hear you
summoning the human inside of you, tell them you got another body,
no matter how creased.

Years hard to follow, everyday, years hard to follow, years
of your face, loess-like, an eviscerated visual rage holds very clearly.
You homosexual can't have anything else, anything less,

anything more like a boy just standing in the shore, devoured by the churning
ocean that doesn't even touch him.

You russet princess, brown princess, blood princess your nose is not broken,
but you see it cut in half like some woman's nose in an Indian epic,
always bleeding, afraid of you, afraid of others.

Your lover must have hidden his damage on you for quite a long time
that only now you are able to see—
but that's not the story you know, that's not it,

that's totally not it and you refuse to tell any story
so nothing of that man you have loved will be changed.


Mourning has taken you
where what you know is the sudden completion of the world, nothing else
will ever happen anymore, nothing else

as your heart has already got away from time
since differed,
since broken down into little fragments,

tossed high and dowel-pinned glistening across the sky—
dust across the sky, aspen leaves across the sky, iridescent finger
bones across the sky—

this imagination is yours, yours,
yours alone, but even so the rest of us may see through it.


Today is years hard to follow of you mourner
and a boy still standing in the shore, ocean-devoured, yes, yes,

still standing in the shore until strong winds thrush the night like a stage act-
or who needs to hum a lull-
aby he forgot to perform in the beginning, and it's not too late,
not too late.

My friend, you don't know this boy
who now lies on the shore, beside him a photograph hardly visible in the dark.
He wipes the grits off the photograph like what we do to our faces when we wake up

and despite being devoured he speaks,
calmly as though to hear himself is just enough unction

look at that black sky, I see the rest of me there, soon, soon,
very soon, everyday only the stars will watch you patiently, very patiently

like you're the only wonder.

 B.B.P. Hosmillo is the author of Breed Me: a sentence without a subject / Phối giống tôi: một câu không chủ đề (Ajar Press, 2016) with Vietnamese translation by Hanoi-based poets Nhã Thuyên & Hải Yến. A Pushcart Prize & four-time Best of the Net nominee, his writing is anthologized in Bettering American Poetry (BlazeVOX, 2016) and forthcoming or has appeared in Apogee Journal, BOAAT Journal, Connotation Press, The Collapsar, Transnational Literature, and The Nottingham Review, among others. His interviews can be read in Misfits Magazine and VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. He is the founding co-editor of Queer Southeast Asia: A Literary Journal of Transgressive Art. Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it [Cha profile]
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