J. Xiang is a queer, Asian-American poet and student living in California (USA).
They spend their time getting lost everywhere, fixing vintage fountain pens, and
occasionally writing. Their poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Up the
Staircase Quarterly
, Name and None, and others.

horizons revised

In my lungs, evacuees run through streets of blood,
try their best to raise the sky and drive away. My

hair bisects, sideways globe through dykes
and trans—religions masc stretch ring towards

middle, outrun index. Know thy heart when
it lurches at the trash, bile frothing through white

teeth. My mother was too kind, led me on through
verging lines, toward aluminum sheets, armed

for a tender world, for the knight who cries at
movie screenings. She rumbles, like Chinese

flutes, talks in beats, expanded barks and
expected control, little pain of a skinned

elbow to wake you up. This week I keep losing
things and can't seem to stop. Things change, the face

longs, shoulders broad, elbows sharpen and things

change and going back is weeks lost, is voice therapy for
stick figure loves. Ground zero in trusting your

breath, the patches of T and the strain of airplane
luggage hugs—be a man by the time you land in

in China, ten hours compacted in a night. Dykes in
metro Shanghai burn, their ghosts teach me to

morph in twos, leave love to chance in postcards with
return addresses. The body is a betrayal of promises, email

yours to mom. For youth for hope in androgyny, tongues in
curved sin to bring me home in one piece. In a baptism through

subcutaneous IVs, down the street from drag queens in
Confucius masks their limbs detached and upsizing

I am created from albuterol inhalers and alcohol swabs
& made again by your parts that failed me.

Fifty-two Degrees

In Spencerian, cursive capitals flower their
sensibility in Xeroxed workbooks you buy off
Amazon. And of course I'm best at the J and X,
my own high-scoring scrabble sets when of

course I took the letters prescribed between those
two bodies and shed and shed until I'm left as
an initial for people who don't know X goes S and h,

or that I can name myself—after your poor
child-pope-king, after some gay guy who
could love and tell me not to kill myself better
than me because my body is never my
own and that's a good thing. Saying love is possession,
possession is a part of the Great

Wall you bought for your sister half through
that backpacking trip the year my dad
taught me Shanghainese for the first time
—at fourteen, starting with insults.

There are no compliments in Shanghainese.
A language in its own right,
in stumbling consonants I call him a
psychopath, annoying white ass while
his mother collapses in cacophony
a continent away. I can't write Mandarin,
try but mis-stroke left into stone, stone into hundred,
my neck of the woods into his loss for words and
mother tried, too, feigned her best affect from
rural farmhand visitors and Venus in retrograde. But

did you know that in the midst of it all, in
the disappointed ancestors and thin-hipped lovers
the Chinese word for soulmate is named after two men?

My sister used to speak in accented bits, shit
turned to sit, clock into cock—so take Americana home
in pajamas with words wrapping legs: love, age, dream, alone
with chicken scratch from chicken feet, my teeth stretch from
palm to nail bed crisp, eat those fingers like you
know what it means to speak. They say it's

to know someone's sound, zhī yīn, first tone cleaving
a body flat through. Like, maybe it's easier to give in. Like how
sometimes I hear you and wish I could understand better,
when the man could play his zither and the fisherman would
take every self-deciphered piece and love and love. When he died
the seven strings dissolved in the Yangtze river because even
he could tell it was well over but even

I couldn't teach you to write the B and Q and P at
the angle Platts R. Spencer wanted, since I can't really do it, either.


You were luckier than
you know. I can't tell how much you
prayed when I was born that
the excess would transcribe
onto me but I inherited the prescience
even when you had the foresight to
know it'd do me no good. Luck
was a late bloomer. It pooled in
my shoes not knowing where
to go, seeping into groundwater and to
lotto tickets still stuck in the machine.
You are luckier than you
know, and you say you know
a lot. Never had much use for
New Year superstitions, but
when I was younger and
when you were better at lying,
you still couldn't hide how you
looked at me as the nightmare child
spun off a finger spool made of
peach fuzz. Like I wasn't made to last
the summer I was born under, like
I should've melted under the blanket.
Water was an insulate and I could've
choked on my own spit. But even
I remember the ambulance
lights right before my cheeks
bloomed purple and you
let go of
my chest.

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