It’s Week 10 of the quarter. My third and final poetry workshop was on Tuesday, and I turned in my final packet today.
I’ve learned so, so much from the class. I’m quite happy with the development in my poetry. I’ll probably share some more poems in coming weeks, but today, I’ll just share my last workshop poem.
The first poem I wrote for the class was for a (frankly, brilliant) workshop assignment: take flowers, the uber-cliche of poetry, and write a poem with them that avoids cliche. I wrote a cheeky poem meditating on plant symbolism in Chinese culture. My professor liked it, so after Chinese New Year, I wrote a poem in a similar style, based on the 12 animals of the zodiac. I showed it to her along with several others for office hours, and she gave me an exercise to invent my own zodiac. She loved the result, so I used that for my final workshop. A lot of my peers didn’t see the point of the poem, but there was one guy who really got the concept and dug it, and suggested I do a whole horoscope. So I wrote a companion poem for my final packet.
I wasn’t sure about these when I wrote them, since they’re mostly exercises in style, but looking at my body of work over the course of the quarter, I realize that these poems really embody the cultivation of two of my strengths, but which until now, I could only make work separately: lush language/imagery and a distinctive, cheeky voice. So there you go!
a koi diamond, radiant as a Mojave sunshower.
the six-week-old fetus of a sacred turtle.
a maiden swan, colorless as arsenic and baby’s breath.
a gliding possum the size of a Qing snuff bottle.
an extinct flightless bird, ephemeral as the rainbow.
a freshwater snail, with eggs the color of rose milk tea.
the mummified remains of an African flamingo.
a cicada, gilded in voodoo summertime.
the ghost of the quagga, returned from the void.
a Chinese water deer with vampire’s teeth.
a bullfrog, its stomach a nesting doll of smaller amphibians.
a spotted skunk, dappled as the stars.
The Koi Diamond
My Goddess Tarot app says: “material deprivation, emotional sterility.”
The Turtle Fetus
No, really, I have a Goddess Tarot app and that’s really what it says.
The Maiden Swan
You’re as rare as a male abortion. In China.
The Gliding Possum
Your lucky numbers are 11, 17, and kick a door hinge until you bleed, you piece of wet turd.
The Extinct Flightless Bird
It could be worse. In fact, it probably will.
The Freshwater Snail
A fleshwater snail?
The Mummified Flamingo
It’s not that you reject happiness, it’s that happiness rejects you.
The Voodoo Cicada
The worst fucking sign in the zodiac. Seriously, why are you even here?
The Quagga Redux
What is the sound of two hands clapping?
The Vampiric Water Deer
You’re cute and hot at the same time, like a Bichon Frise on fire.
The Matryoshka Bullfrog
When you go to Chinese restaurants, your fortune cookies have no fortunes inside.
The Celestial Skunk
See: Xin Nu