Kaleidoscoping Around The Haibun Of The Last Can Of SPAM
Over the horizon, xenophobia is a blue eye peeking from the other side of aisle nine. Overcasting of gray windows. The geometry of the last can of SPAM— with its plush yellow font— blooms forth a meal-prep of solitude. A void opens on aisle ten. There, beaming with the shimmer of lukewarm Shiner Bock clasped between its fingers, a bear, who, when provoked, doesn’t resemble the attitude of the Charmin toilet paper bear. In fact, the bear with the beer is scratching aimlessly in the air, squatting on a kiosk of Easter candies.
Where have they gone? The
bear yowls. Where have all my rolls
of family gone?
To Asian Squat or Not?
is to ask whether it’s worth to suffer
the slings & arrows of broken bodies
trying to claw at whatever nutrition
your skin provides.
in the corner of the abandoned
gym riddled of bloodied
walls fingerpainted with THERE IS NO AFTER
THERE IS NO BEFORE
THERE IS NOTHING BUT NOW & GORE.
Channel your toes in Vietnamese roots.
Keep your ankles nimble, your achilles
hidden with leather.
How deep is your
lunge? Creep forward,
crab walk into the abandoned
medical supply closet. Aspirin, gauze, nail clipper.
The lower your head,
the lower your body,
the less likely
you’ll be punched
in your yellow face.
Rest Day: Coffee / Coffee / Love / Love
Your hands, brown-
stained filter of kindness.
Rush of caffeine sleuthing
its way in the brain— a secret
agent imposter passing
as adenosine antagonist.
to the heart’s capillaries:
signals to the biome
of your gut to wake up
& smell the humid cobblestone,
rectum sphincter relaxing while the cardinal
worms along the Magnolia branch,
pacing back & forth
waiting for their fohawked love
to join. Before you clinch
your butt, & before the bathroom
break, & before the coffee cools
& new acids are produced,
& before the bluebirds bicker
on which blueberry is theirs or almond or soy or oat,
we freeze our ground eyes
to each other. Ankles humid,
I would love you with a caffeine deficit,
still with a slug in my step, sure,
but I’d rather love you with a cup,
with my pores
unclogged, open to your generous
frothing of heart murmurations,
latte dedications, & our bodies—
an aubade, an aubade, an aubade.
Joshua Nguyen is the author of Come Clean (University of Wisconsin Press), winner of the 2021 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry, the 2021 Writers' League of Texas Discovery Award, and the 2022 Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Poetry Award. He is also the author of the chapbook, American Lục Bát for My Mother (Bull City Press, 2021). He is a PhD student at The University of Mississippi, where he also received his MFA.