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Three poems


Between Ubud and Kuta there are strips of sugarcane

and a trail of footsteps I leave behind.

See—walking’s harder with mountains on your back,

and rain doesn’t spare the poor.

I head to the beach with a towel slung

over my shoulder,

the grey slab of sky hanging above

the palm leaves and their untroubled faces.

Hours later, a man offers me a ride on his motorbike

so I cling to his hips

and make conversation in between cigarette drags.

I’m just arriving in my foreign clothes, my words

crooked and stumbling out of my mouth,

the tropical heat licking my face clean.

I imagine my mother’s body

scattered across the earth like seeds,

I water each one as if she’ll grow back.

Her death a tire swing

I drag through the summer,

my accent swallowed whole

as she sinks into soil,

her history alive in the brownness of my skin.

The Art of Leaving

Mornings I lie beside your dreaming

body, draped in fractured light

as another cloud waits

to be sliced into petals. Even when

we kiss like our mouths have nowhere

else to be, the pink ribbon

of dawn I twist around

your thumb, you will not remember

the cup of tea I bring you

to pass time, my half-expected

shadow hung above the door,

how the bathwater grew cold

the night before. You will only remember

the words whimpering inside

you, my face a billow of wind

that stirs the quiet bluegrass.

Breakup Poem, Ponchatoula Creek

A crane hunting for fish

catches my heart instead, a glass house

as I crouch by the streambed

watching the mango sky ripen.

The morning you left I returned

to the same spot, by the dead frog

and shriveled worms,

the trees thinner, the grass browner.

The crane unties my heart, a ribbon of loss

while I’m remembering you

veiled in winged moonlight,

leaning against her silver spine.

How spoiled I am

to have known you, nameless flower

of sadness, silence is your favorite

color to wear.

The crane takes flight and you fall

with every last feather,

I am the frog swallowed whole.

At night I look out my window

and the moon is still the moon,

her round belly glowing

as she swings from the sky,

I’m waving to your ghost, can’t you see?


Kyna Smith is an Indonesian-American poet who lived in Jakarta, Indonesia for seven years before moving to Wilmington, Delaware. She currently studies English Literature at the University of Delaware and plans to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. In her free time, she likes to travel, play the guitar, and sing.

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