READING THIS BOOK WAS A REMINDER OF THE DETAILS IN THE WORLD. IT WAS A KIND OF SENSORY AWAKENING. The best poetry that I’ve heard just makes me feel a little bit more alive for the time that I’m in it. I think that’s one of the things that we need the most, just to give ourselves a little bit of time to feel alive a little bit, instead of being on Instagram, even though I love Instagram.

And [it serves] also to name those strange sort of nameless feelings and experiences. I love the moments when I’m reading a poem when I’m like, “Yes, I do know what you are talking about. But I’ve never been able to name it before.”

Franny Choi will have a book release party for Floating, Brilliant, Gone at the Salon (57 Eddy St., Providence) at 6:00 pm on Saturday, April 5. For more info, go to frannychoi.com.

_Philip Eil

*                *               *  

Two poems  by Franny Choi::

 

TO THE MAN WHO SHOUTED “I LIKE PORK FRIED RICE” AT ME ON THE STREET

 

you want to eat

me — out

of these jeans & into

something a little

cheaper. more digestible.

more bite-sized. more

 

come: i’m greasy for you.

slick my hair with MSG every morning.

i’m bad for you. red-light district

stuck in your teeth. taste like

a takeout box between

my legs. taste like dried squid.

lips puffy with salt. brimming

with foreign.

 

so call me

pork: curly-tailed obscenity

been playing in the mud. dirty meat.

worms in your stomach. give you

a fever. dead meat. butchered girl

chopped up & cradled in styrofoam

for you — candid cannibal.

want me bite-sized

no eyes to clog your throat.

 

but i’ve been watching

from the slaughterhouse

ever since you named me

edible. think you’re

the first to sit at this

table? to ask for a cookie

at the end? call yourself

lucky. chef.

archaeologist — any name

to thicken your jaw.

 

then listen

for my sow squeal

scream murder in molars.

feel salt awaken

my synapses. watch me kick

back to life. tentacles

& teeth. resurrected electric.

revenge — squirming alive

in your mouth

strangling you quiet

from the inside out.

[This poem was originally published in Poetry magazine.]

 

WHY WE BIKED FORTY MILES TO NARRAGANSETT

There are many reasons — the promise

of water, to offer one example —

 

but none burns so blood

as the good work of muscles pumping freight

over the earth; as the fact of engine in my knees

and all my lover’s inexplicable flesh

churning wind beside me.

 

The work of love

becomes its own reason; like the heart’s

relentless feedback loop, which is infinite

until it isn’t; like sweat, being only

(miraculously) itself, and worth it;

 

like the ocean, having been the ocean

long before we arrived, each wave

newborn and buried at once; like us,

standing breathless at the edge,

astonished by our own lungs.

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