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They sit on steel crates
talk about how
they could shoot down crows

not the birds, but those slick veins
                    on old lady liberty’s legs.
She tips well,
tells all her friends we’re good
because we don’t talk while we work.

Along a strip alley on 40th,
a naked bulb swings in a room above a 4-dish-1-soup kitchen
bodies reduced to shadows
scuffed tiles and jars filled with medicinal tea
                    and outside: magic hour light.

Here: magic is as real as the woman
who scrubs your bathroom clean every Tuesday
and then ceases to exist.

Here: the bones on your plate
are a reminder
that something is now a part of you forever.

When the witches ask what you want
Tell them
                    you could be nonhuman too

a protagonist in an ancient melee of night flowers
waxy leaves, tendrils of fragrance, all this skin
that will never bear fruit

Tell them
you don’t need
this lurid cage of lust and
                                                              grief,

this hair, these thighs, these shredded
dreams tattooed into your heart
Let the witches swallow it all
                    until their bellies are full, until they
                                        split and spill
                                                            erupting out of the shadows

into the burning streets.

 

 

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



Angela Liu is a Chinese-American writer from NYC. She researched mixed reality at Keio University in Japan and now works in IT consulting and translation. Her stories and poetry are published/forthcoming in ClarkesworldThe DarkUncannyDark Matter MagazineCast of Wonderskhōréō, among others. Her debut short story collection, Beautiful Ways We Break Each Other Open, will be released in September 2024 with Dark Matter INK. Check out more of her work at liu-angela.com or find her on Twitter/Instagram @liu_angela.
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