A Journal

"I'm going to come back to West Virginia when this is over. There's something ancient and deeply-rooted in my soul. I like to think that I have left my ghost up one of those hollows, and I'll never really be able to leave for good until I find it. And I don't want to look for it, because I might find it and have to leave".----Breece D'J Pancake, in a letter to his mother. 

Timothy Liu




Not trying to
convince the world

how in love we are

with our faces
locked in status-

update sunset porn—

none of the likes
or comments

to be believed

as we cross borders
like aliens

fucking on the run—



Last night, hell
was a garage
band where you
stood playing
all the parts
from maracas
to the cordless
mike while doing
a trippy cover
of "Message
in a Butt Hole"—
your mother
the only member
of the audience
pumping her
fist into the air.






He knew their marriage

was over when she started
unscrewing all the bulbs—

the sockets in their walls

overrun by plugs—no room
for a new device unless

another were taken out—




He puts his hands
on my knees and says
“I love my wife!”

He orders Dom Perignon

and baked foie gras,
filet mignon and flaming
cherries jubilee, asks me 

to strike the match. 

The waiter asks if that
will be all, clearing away
the plates as my lover 

signs the check, looking

me straight in the eyes
and saying: “I love
my wife!” He grabs

the rubber ring, pulls

the condom off the tip
of his cock after pulling
out of me and says 

“Baby, I’ve got to go,” 

leaving me to wonder
what he says to his wife
each night in their bed

when the lights go out.






Dust mites trapped
               inside an oriental rug
                              sailing in regattas

off to Holy Lands
               with an intensity
                              my husband has never   

               felt before—tinkling

brass echoing through
               my mother’s mouth
                              as heirloom Limoges 

starts to rattle inside
               that china cabinet
                              whose key has gone


tsunami of her voice
               singing hymns
                              once known by heart

unable to tear
               the tiles off the clay
                              roof of my father’s

               ancestral house. 


Of course, a souvenir that reminds us of a Beloved is the ur-souvenir, what Freud would call a “transitional object.” A Navajo bracelet. A disposable lighter. A dried oak leaf. A snap-button Western shirt. Sometimes these things are given, sometimes taken (without asking). 

Timothy Liu’s most recent book of poems is Don’t Go Back To Sleep (Saturnalia Books). He lives in Manhattan and Woodstock, NY with his husband.