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Three Poems by Hikari Leilani Miya

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

Dear 光 (aka I hope you have time for this poem)--

it’s been a while since you’ve written a poem

or arranged the sonnet, with arranging cut up lines on your living room floor.

it’s been a while since you’ve wandered through 日本町 in your flip flops you’ve worn

since high school graduation. tell dad it was worth the $18.

it’s been a while since you’ve worn a novel Halloween costume

even though you bought three Pokemon onesies last year and decided they were too hot.

it’s been a while since you read tarot cards, letting the king

of swords slip out while sloppily shuffling. (remember when you’d leave out a silver

mug for the goddess Artemis because you always wanted to be a virgin with a big big

bow and you are only half of that

it’s been a while since you texted your brother (because instagram likes don’t count):

Here’s my podcast. Pls share with your friends. Pls share my pictures like how mom

used to make us share those jarred belgian chocolate truffles from Costco.

it’s been a while since you’ve bought new underwear,

or worn a headband, or used a full-size sanitary pad, or touched

something violently pink and fluffy. but--

tonight you read a poem to your partner. this morning you introduced a multigenre project

to 38 undergraduates with no questions asked. and--

last night you popped pills past your lips instead of putting a blade to your wrist,

and slept like you weren’t afraid of dreams.

why yes, thank you for noticing

my name, sharp light

on your soft tongue

peppered with all

the jeweled ikura

brine-pickled embers

just waiting to pop.

you roll my name

in a bamboo makisu,

squeeze the excess

into your egg for that

umami Japanese flair.

how pretty, how unique, how

cool as a kokeshi expression

inked on moth winged wood,

kimonos stamped with sakuras

blushing brighter than kamaboko.

you don’t see the brown in me,

the lumpia-crunching, I-don’t-eat-out-


so you don’t ask anak, how are your aunties

in Ilocos? you don’t know about the math facts

homework crumpled beneath my pillow

the night before my first grade math

test. you don’t know why we don’t

put our purses on our ground, you

don’t understand the hawaiian salt

and garlic hidden beneath my bed.

you don’t know why you don’t know

my name. my skin. the depth of brown

in my eyes, my blood some ungodly

percentage of shoyu.

beyond the dusting of mochiko flour,

the sweet earth of an beans, crackling

that could be my nori or my hair, I am

especially that sprinkle of diversity on your pie

chart, that bamboo mat and ceiling,

waterproof, sleek, green, and unbearably


introducing my girl band, wet sidewalk

we drink mogu mogu with extra nata de coco

out of mushroom cups, headbang until our air

pods clatter onto the scratched laminate floor.

we sing songs about why the sidewalk is wet.

our playlist: someone dropped their coconut sorbet.

someone told me a lie and now the sky is falling

out of my eyes. a frog hopped across searching

for some other frog to amplexus. someone spit.

my brother threw a snowball and missed. we miss

our deceased dog. the hose is leaking. the clouds

wouldn’t stop pouting. ballpoint pen explosion.

we cry if we drop our miki noodle soup. we cry

because the snakeskin ripped and now the cat

is pawing it around. we cry because children

are full of bullets instead of pichi-pichi or

malasadas. we cry for the lifespan of dragonflies.

we collaborate, too. featuring: the sound of the newest

iphone dropping onto our ex-partner’s driveway. the wind

(wednesday afternoon without trees). my pregnant

mother angrily shouting for dinuguan, circa 1996.

a wishbone breaking unevenly. the microwave screaming

to the world that leftover pancit is ready. breaking mirror.

we are unapologetic. we don’t shave, we don’t slave

for nobody. unless, now, hear us good and clear:

there is free, all you can eat halo-halo. with extra ube.

Hikari Leilani Miya is an LGBTQ Japanese-Filipina American who graduated from Cornell University in 2019 with a BA in English, and from University of San Francisco with an MFA in Creative Writing. She is in Florida State University's PhD program in creative writing and is an instructor for undergraduates. She currently lives in Tallahassee with her snakes and disabled cat.

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