Sheila Dong - Four Poems


these days i am neither
man nor woman but the darkest

elements of both, black
fishhooks turned inward and

wounding. a rainbow

glitch envelops my body. my hair
is never the right length. i sleep
clasping a pillow against my clamor

and wake with its case shucked off.

every calendar box is marked with a check,
an x, a dash, or a lightning. every day

i grow more epicene; every day

is shorter but still burns
like midsummer, air clotted
with steam, roads softening

to iridescent tar. down days

correlate with feeling more masculine
but what, if anything,
does this imply?

i dress to be invisible and take walks
under red and black sunsets. find me

roiling over cracked ground,
shedding my skin. find me eternally

gnawing. find me zero-
shaped, paving my throat with every

eventual version of myself.

News Cycle

bug hearts throb this marble house:
america perfume born ferocious
has a hard god laugh,

bleeds for cake in vast
concrete cups. sugar
glaze the books, microwave

the sea, take a selfie
at the disaster museum.
a confetti wave of roaches,

neon-rendered, cheers on
america shucking off
its last cardigan


In the dark someone had spilled a box of donuts / ants like living coals / studded in sugarfire / cull
sweetness where none can see / I sink teeth / into my own flesh / I see my body everywhere /
falling out of casings / picked apart /

my eighth grade math teacher asked / if you eat a donut / where does the hole go / my science
teacher said / the inside of the gut / counts as outside / slow hole / from mouth to anus / a human
is nothing / more or less than / a convoluted donut /

the man at the bus shelter suffers formication / feeling ants under his skin / crawl and nibble / I
believe his howling / I believe I can cut him open / for braidedblack tides of twitching feelers and
clicking jaws / hungry / neverending /

I click my mouthparts / like doors unhinging / there are too many ways / out of the body / I run
my mouth / like a fever / every fire escape leads to the threshold / of another burning building /
every cell a forge / warm-blooded insect that I am / I look up /

whether an ant has a heartbeat / yes but / no blood vessels / only hemolymph rolling in tides
through brittle shell / brimming until the crunch and spill / like a box divulging its sweets over July
grass / hundred saccharine- / laced tongues / swarming

Letters to Blue

Dear; yesterday I napped too long
and missed the first act. When I snuck in,
a woman lay prone on a velvet couch.
From beneath the carved frame, fog
was billowing. Write back soon.

Dear; I heard you made an orchestra play
a single note from the pit of a glacier,
that you kept them there until the horsehair
in their bows frayed to gossamer, and still you
weren’t pleased. I miss you, come home. Dear;

last night I was glowing like an animal,

ringing like a wound, like a call from a jail cell.
I picked myself up and held me to my ear,
but all I heard was the echo of my own
uneven breath. You know all about that,

don’t you? Dear; I drove past a field of snow
where someone had dumped a broken
MRI machine. I thought there’d be a body
inside it still. That maybe, it could be my own.
If not today, then someday. Love you.