important to know we were all fine.

after the checkpoint. sweat in his mask.
dust on the tac vest. his hands running his eyes.
how he was friendly. his near partner friendly.
his far partner with the long gun.
how I stopped careful. got out careful.
how i did not know why
but did. how the state monopoly on force
or whatever was kind. how I gestured,
slow. his smile
like a tire spike.
I look at him
looking me. he is
boyfriend I hear her say
softly. softly. still.
on the road to Chichen Itza
there are monkey bridges
did you know. thin bridges
of shiver black rope. we never
saw monkeys.


notes for G—, after the death of his mother

It is with
I’m so
although there is nothing I can say at the bottom of a well the water is brackish and foul
I wish
I wish there was something I could
to filter water you are uncertain is safe one method is to fold a cloth in half in half in half in half
I’m here for seven times and use it as a filter when my father died this will it was as if remove
most of the particulate and allow the sky falling through the top of my jar. I cannot imagine
Another method is to use a capful of bleach
A curious facet about the property of a noble gas is found in the way each atom spaces apart
evenly given enough room and time
 ———— the proportions escape me but you can look them up.
Bleach also expires.
Brackish, from the dutch root: saltier than freshwater, less than the sea.
         a sunset makes a sound doesn’t it
I learned    too late


notes on the new year

1. It is the New Year, as we count it.
2. Paper rabbits wink from each window.
3. Firecrackers rattle their blessings.
4. A man walks into a ballroom with a gun.
5. A man in the Washington Post asks if there are too many Asians.
6. The ballroom is in Monterey Park, where my grandparents used to live.
7. Both of my grandparents were previously dead.
8. In the New Year we light fireworks to scare off the evil spirits.
9. In one story, a monster comes to eat the villagers on New Years Eve.
10. He was always quick to anger, says his ex-wife.
11. The monster is named Nian.
12. Every New Year’s Eve, the villagers flee to the mountains to avoid being eaten.
13. Until they learn to burn bamboo.
14. Eleven people die in the Star Ballroom.
15. The owner, their students.
16. Immigrants, retirees.
17. Joyful aunt, youthful dancer.
18. The owner who tried to make it stop.
19. When you burn bamboo it makes a loud cracking sound.
20. It is the New Year, the year of the Water Rabbit.
21. The year of the Water Rabbit means hope.
22. The sound of cracking scared off the monster.
23. This is why we now set off fireworks.
24. I can no longer distinguish the sound of fireworks from guns.
25. Still.
26. After the Star Ballroom, a man walks into another ballroom holding a gun.
27. The Lai Lai ballroom.
28. Which means Come, Come.
29. What you should know is that Monterey Park is 65.1% Asian American.
30. In college, I decided to learn how to dance.
31. I didn’t know how to walk.
32. My body fit badly my body.
33. My slouch apologizing for my height.
34. I was ten when the school shooting time began.
35. An active shooter drill is very much like an earthquake drill.
36. Except no one tells you when it stops.
37. Nowadays the best advice for surviving an earthquake is no longer to hide under your desk.
38. The advice for surviving a shooting remains unchanged.
39. Stay low. Stay quiet.
40. Don’t confront the shooter if you can.
41. In Monterey Park, a man confronts a man holding a gun.
42. In situations like this, according to experts, most outcomes are dictated by luck.
43. In Chinese, the number 4 is unlucky because it sounds like death.
44. Death, death.
45. According to recent surveys, Asian American gun ownership has risen by record numbers.
46. Mostly in response to hate crimes.
47. For what it’s worth, what happened in Monterey Park was not a hate crime, although it felt
like it.
48. According to experts, the number eight is lucky.
49. For what it’s worth, the man who walks into the ballroom looks like me.
50. What should I feel instead?
51. One New Year, my cousin shows me the guns he keeps in the trunk of his car.
52. Just in case, he says.
53. My cousin was responsible about his guns, I think.
54. Revolver, shotgun, Glock.
55. After college, I walk into a ballroom to learn how to dance.
56. Swing, foxtrot, waltz.
57. In some dances, you look at your partner.
58. In some, you turn your head.
59. The teacher has soft hands and looks like me.
60. Sometimes there are moments that happen without thinking.
61. Sometimes there is a gap between what I know and believe.
62. For what it’s worth, I’ve always wanted to own a gun but haven’t.
63. Two out of three gun deaths are self-inflicted.
64. The man who walks into a ballroom shoots himself in his van.
65. He is seventy-two years old.
66. My grandfather lived in Monterey Park and died twelve years ago.
67. Which is one full turn of the zodiac, as we count it.
68. The man who confronted the shooter survived.
69. Afterwards, he said it was the first time he’d ever seen a real gun.
70. After my grandfather died we went to the temple to burn incense.
71. Incense, the priest tells us, is what the dead have instead of food.
72. Still, we pile food on the altars of the dead.
73. Grapefruit, orange, bowl of rice.
74. My grandma, she just went there to have fun.
75. After my grandfather died, we went to the temple after certain intervals of time.
76. A hundred days, a year, six years, twelve.
77. The soul, the priest tells us, is like a cup of water evaporating.
78. The dead, the priest tells us, come back to us like rain.
79. I want to believe him.
80. It is the New Year, as we count it.
81. The year of the Water Rabbit, which means hope.
82. Already there are fireworks.
83. Already there has been so, so much rain.
84. In the New Year, I light incense.
85. in the New Year, I try to believe.
86. Last week I walked into a ballroom to learn how to dance.
87. Frame. Step. I turn my face.
88. Luck, luck.