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Content warning:

a ghazal

I’ll tell you all the ways a movie scene can slice
open your mouth. The two antagonists slice

a bear’s throat for survival and you call that
heroic. The main character holds up a slice

of red velvet cake from her roommate’s party
and dumps it on a mattress. Even the slice-

of-life movies cannot distinguish capitalism
from cannibalism. An ongoing war slices

into your country and people are still eating
their pasts in penthouses, devouring unsliced

bodies of cash. The protagonist’s love interest
mistakes the Lunar New Year red for a slice

of his Valentine heart, comedic in all the ways
an apocalypse can be. An earthquake slices

the scene shut, like a snapdragon that blooms
in early March. Movies can be deceptive: slice

them open and you will find the same post-
credits scene of drunk-dazed girls slicing

peaches in the backyard. A dragonfly whirs
past and one of the girls accidentally slices

its wings off with her knife. To know of
violence is to somersault into it, slick

like the metal of a blade. Look, your
mouth is growing fangs, ready to slice.

You will become un-humaned, trapped
in a movie scene that will become a slice

of your life. I am not surprised by how
it all ends: a montage reversed into slices.



[Editor’s Note: Publication of this poem was made possible by a gift from Marta Malinowska during our annual Kickstarter.]

Jessica Kim is the author of L(EYE)GHT. She has been recognized as the 2022 West Regional Youth Poet Laureate and National Youngarts Finalist in Writing (Poetry). Her poems appear in POETRY Magazine, NPR's All Things Considered, The Adroit Journal, and others. She studies computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
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26 Feb 2024

I can’t say any of this to the man next to me because he is wearing a tie
Language blasts through the malicious intentions and blows them to ash. Language rises triumphant over fangs and claws. Language, in other words, is presented as something more than a medium for communication. Language, regardless of how it is purposed, must be recognized as a weapon.
verb 4 [C] to constantly be at war, spill your blood and drink. to faint and revive yourself. to brag of your scars.
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