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michelle lin


But Helen, I am not golden                             in all that glory


At least for me, there is no blonde maze
confusing this smallest bathroom and

its endless water, I am china and all
his, easy. When I ex out the candles,

the wax left behind will be their own
failed séances, dark and meaningless

on his terms. He promises good morning
so said sediment's gone, the dust on the walls

rifled and bulleted for later poems. No what,
he nibbles into my ear, does our love have

to do with guns and war? With my flesh,
forbidden and fresh, lychee within the peach

within his wetted mouth? In this séance
sauna he's given me, I am purloined

with pearls and grief, sick to the tip of teeth
with old-dragon-mothers-hungering-for-virgins

and other monsters he's writ for me. Oh honey,
you poor thing, come back to the bath
, he says,

beckoning with arm gummy as lychee, canned
and hitched to this short trailer of my life,

this one-room montage of powder and shit
he's filmed for me. Shall I take his pretty arm too,

that stern solid I, some scepter or loofah
to christen myself with? Tied in suds as

the first bodies fall this year for someone
else's rapture. He says no this isn't blood-

lipstick on my collar, he says, no the dark
is dangerous, wait for good morning

but I begin to count each glittering nail.
I begin to account for the I, told to be more

beautiful than blonde, preferred and coveted,
Freedom plays on the golden kettle and I scald

myself refilling the bath. He says to tell
my luckiest friends. Outside, the wooden horse

burns with the blackest of bodies
and he says Bitch, this is for you.



Hush Up or Bark


Not everyone wishes to be dog.
            But to wag the sides of myself,
paws or teeth up, I could be quick
            and two dimensional, I could be pure
as a moment. To fit my breadth
            in dog years, to leave this body
behind, its nakedness, its soggy
            calendars of salt. I could hunch down
in my little wood house of wanting,
            wait for my life to come home.
Hem myself a dress of mud and drool.
            I could want for bones, but give me
your shoe to gnaw and I could
            bring down birds and their
branches, I could roll over as best
            soldier. Be icon, be badge,
heroic profile staked down, my little button
            of a nose. I could limp
in your arms, and I could still
            as a purse. Is your dog cuter
than other dog, is your dog cuter
            than me? But couldn't I be
the cutest you've ever seen?
            Bad girl groveling bedded down,
am I so bad for wanting
            you to be so happy
with me? If I put on that leash, hush up
            or bark, everything I say could be
howl, unbelievably wide in rooms.
            I could tear and foam with no fear
of undoing, my aperture of appetite
            collared way, way down.




Michelle Lin earned her MFA from the University of Pittsburgh and her BA in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside. She was a former Gluck Fellow and an editor of the journals Mosaic, B. E. Quarterly, and Hot Metal Bridge. She has taught poetry for the LEAPS summer program, Young Writer’s Institute, and University of Pittsburgh. Her latest work is forthcoming or can be found in The Journal, Apogee, North American Review, ZYZZYVA, Aster(ix), and Phoebe