Carlina Duan


in this house. & my vision's
blurry. it smells the wild smell
of feet and I'm thinking of all
the ways this election is fucked.
I spread lotion on my face: moony
& white. when I was small, my
father used to put Ponds cream
on his hands. scent of linen
& something sharp: birds' nests,
maybe, or wings. my father
never read me stories, but he
leaned in & I sucked in many
breaths, holding in oceans, open
doors, wind, sweet. he doesn't
believe in Trump, or Clinton.
I believe in my father. presidential
teeth, elongated and gapped. when
I stick a finger through
his scalp I find stars.
I bury them back between
dandruff and salt. I come
from a lineage of men who draw
scores of bright fish on their palms
and refuse to call it 'easy.' they
do not pet my head. when they
high-five me, I meet the current,
wash my neck. I shake my hungry

I am the daughter of
black tide / an immigrant                and on
television I watch Trump
fatten his lips. where my
father lives, I protect.

we swim and we swim.

flies poke their bodies through
& through, humming
the plumpest black. I vote
for my father to kill
them but he turns to me
hands me the swatter
                                            this is your country
tells me to strike quick.

there is an entire liquid
nation in his face and no
where to admit what I
fear. some day the future
president might hurt him,
or lie, or dismiss: my baba who
cleans my passport with
alcohol wipes and stands
in the frozen foods aisle
for minutes, cradling
the fruit sorbet in his arms
as he would a soft child.

in the kitchen
the flies descend upon
a perfect peach
and my father stands
in the corner, waiting,
so kill, kill, I do
and I do.

Carlina Duan hails from Michigan, and currently lives in Malaysia—where she spends her days teaching, hydrating, and admiring her backyard banana tree. She has work published in Berkeley Poetry Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, The Margins, and elsewhere. Her debut poetry collection, I Wore My Blackest Hair, is forthcoming from Little A in 2017.

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