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Father, tell me why I was born / imitation of flesh. The years

      have swung shut / behind me and still my lust letters / to silicon

have gone unanswered, still / I have never felt the vitriol

      of a mother / ’s womb. Last night I / met a girl behind the factory,

chipped / my teeth on her shoulder while she clasped / my name

      between her lips. She said / I was most lovable / when I was

the parts / and not the sum. Hungrily, I think of tearing / myself apart:

      my tongue / on her bedstand, toes on the kitchen counter,

mechanical / heart in the closet. The things I would do / for her.

      Tomorrow, I’ll look at you / and remember the movie / where autumn

foams / at the lips of heretics & / everything is coated / in the thick

      semblance of dawn. In the darkness / of the theater, I listened / for

a heartbeat but all / I heard was the grinding of gears in the cavity /

      of my breast—language / of decay written in clockwork.


Father, in my next life, promise me arsonist / of all smaller fires.

      Promise me story / still fleet-footed and blazing, story where I

become more / than steam. And pretend that I never / prayed

      to the veins / of a trembling city, never saw god / written in neon

lights. How / a soot-stained factory girl / left fingerprints

      on the inside / of my heart. Her fingers soft / like a violet blooming

through scrap metal, roots tangled / around stillborn engines. / So

      all those years ago—did the question never occur to you, / so blind

with youth you would do anything / just to see something of your

      own survive? About whether to be alive / meant more than just bone

marrow and unsung mantras. / And about sentience: the hole borne

      into the gut of every wretched / youth. Every father left / with want

in the soles of his shoes. / Every child left pining for transience.

      Around us, the music silvers / into life, pulled taut like a thread

through my cranium.


Father, listen. In the lyrics of songs /

      written by androids there is cannibalism.

Fiona Lu is a student from the San Francisco Bay Area who loves storytelling, no matter what form it may take. Her writing has appeared in Kissing Dynamite and Up the Staircase Quarterly. They are also a founder and editor-in-chief of interdisciplinary literary arts magazine Renaissance Review. She tweets @froitering.
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13 May 2024

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