Two Poems by Clare Chu


I had not noticed how frail you are, but at night your hands now pluck at the woolen blanket in your sleep. In the morning over breakfast you lean slightly toward me, for confirmation of something you thought you knew, for that need for words to sound as though written in stone. After you’ve drunk your cup of gunpowder-tea and eaten your buttered toast, you hope I won’t notice the drops and crumbs spilled down your front, missing entirely the napkin I placed so carefully on your lap.

I wish I’d told you years ago about that first kiss you deliberately placed on my lips, when as usual I thought you would kiss my cheek. It stayed with me for a week. Every morning of that week I woke and ran my fingers across my lips to check if you were still there. I wish I’d told you. I wish I’d told you I knew it was love when I let your dog sleep on my head.

These days we wake early. I see your mouth tremble when you turn to me, looking for words to describe the dawn thrusting its way in through the curtains, drawn against the sunlight. And the day when I couldn’t find you anywhere in the house. I thought you were lost in the walls. And then I lifted the curtain and spied you through the window, outside in the rose garden, ambling among the fallen petals.

Sticks and Stones

Kerfuffle —
as in:

She causes a kerfuffle dancing on the bar,
as he follows her, he tells himself she’s asking for it.

Riven —
as in:

She lies under a tree riven by lightning, says nothing –
his hand over her mouth, the other at her throat.

Arrest —
as in:

Her fragrance is arresting when he pushes his head
between her breasts and bites her.

Iota —
as in:

She doesn’t give one iota afterwards her dress is bloody,
she will never wear it again.

Maudlin —
as in:

Her mother spoke sharply: you’ve been maudlin ever since — you need to snap out of it.

Gossamer —
as in:

She reads in a book her hymen was as thin as gossamer
and shaped like a crescent moon.

Echo —
as in:

The jury’s silence echoes around the courtroom when
she stumbles through the events of that evening.

Stagger —
as in:

The judge is staggered her mother allows her out
on a school night, suggests the girl is out of control.

Abject —
as in:

Abject after his acquittal, she ditches school to buy a rope,
looks up online how to tie a noose.

Predispose —
as in:

The papers report there is nothing in the family history
of the victim that predisposed her to hang herself.

Clare Chu was raised in Malta and England, and has adopted Palm Springs, CA. as her home. She is an art curator, dealer, lecturer and writer who has authored and published twelve books and numerous academic articles on Asian art. Her poetry is featured in a continuing collaboration with Hong Kong-based calligraphic and landscape painter, the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, in which poet and artist challenge and expand traditional media boundaries. Her poetry is published in The Perch, The Comstock Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal and The Raw Art Review amongst others. Clare’s debut collection, The Sand Dune Teacher, was published by UnCollected Press in June, 2020. She is a 2021 Pushcart nominee.

Appears In

Issue 13

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