by Steven Duong
I’m guided by a signal in the heavens / I’m guided by this birthmark on my skin / I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons / First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin
Chew your coordinates until they’re slack
and flavorless, a night sky
squeezed of jazz. Swing low,
angel. Fly dirty if you need to—no gods
up here. Let the wind ride you
like an old lover, one who knows you
as I do. Seduce the radar’s
shadow. Fill its red mouth with music.
Your body—leave it unpainted. As you
approach me, the city of your worst
thoughts, the carrier of your great dis-
ease, keep your eyes peeled, your head
on a swivel. Stealth! Do the jitterbug,
the Linda Blair. No dance like a knife fight
in a phone booth. Savor my downtown
breath, hot and sour. Read my buildings
for their stories, those sharp bodies,
bristling like teeth. Remember, a man cannot
be a blade. A bomb cannot be a metaphor.
Fangs out, love. The earth’s perched
within your sights—fondle it, flatten it,
bury it beneath itself. Come meet my makers.
Make me martyr, moondust, myth. What is
our love but a winged madness, our bodies but
a payload? There is no wind as divine
as ours. Swing low, swing low. Come clean,
come home. Find me, raw and righteous
in each small demise, each sweet detonation.
Steven Duong is a San Diego poet and a child of Vietnamese immigrants. The recipient of two Academy of American Poets University and College Prizes, he has poems featured or forthcoming in Pleiades, Passages North, Salt Hill, Asian American Writers' Workshop, Split Lip Magazine, Hobart, and Poets.org. As a 2019 Thomas J. Watson Fellow, he is currently traveling in Malawi, China, Thailand, and Trinidad to conduct a yearlong writing project titled "Freshwater Fish and the Poetry of Containment." Check out this project and other works-in-progress at stevenduongwrites.com or Steven's twitter, @boneless_koi.