Two Poems by Jenny Zhang

Jenny Zhang Cover

I keep thinking there is an august

if there is an august

there is an august

I would probably write every day

but some days I get caught up

rubbing my pussy

checking for pimples

green ones pop on their own

when I need to cum

or when I’m flicking cum out

beautiful white globs that dry mid-air

I would be lazier than this

but then it would be

celestial

a star in midsummer

summer solstice long gone

the weird feeling of being alone

of consummating love

why do my friends look forward

to the best day of their lives

do they secretly wish

they were already dead?

do I?

does he?

do all of us

already know something

of death

the next life

the old world

in the old country

they ate the horses they rode on

and no one said anything stupid

like how life is both impossible

and happening at the same time

no one spoke thru the ground to touch

- god -

but that was the old country

where my mother is from

where you’re from

your mother studied my mother

your recreational sports came from our rivers

your houses were decorated

with objects so rare my people have only heard about them

in songs passed down by the one family member who befriended

a European traveler

whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy me

yr people cried

while visiting the old country

where I have never been

the place where I was first touched

a sudden bloom of algae

in the ancient lake

where all the animals touched skin to skin fur to fur paw to paw fin to fin mouth to mouth hole to hole and became family




needs revision!

I liked the story of the monkey

who was inside

that woman and when she met

that man

who fucked her without asking

about pain or pleasure or desire or terror

he was really fucking

the monkey inside her

who told her to stop

if only we all had a monkey

but actually ~ no ~

no to wanting someone else

to do the work for us

no to wanting someone to feel

our pain

no to thinking everything can be

outsourced

someone has to feel it

it might as well be me

just because I have let monsters

love me shouldn’t mean I get to

hit whoever I want

and ~ yes ~ I want to hit everyone!

walk around with my fists by my side

like a spring I knock down everything

around me

the horror is always the same:

what fell were the flowers

leaving just the ragged hedges

the immovable trunks of trees

everything ugly remains

the bleeding is just on one side

the same people care

and the same people don’t

I don’t know man … was I wrong

to assume I was straight?

what else was in me all along that I never nurtured?

I point out sadist after sadist

but don’t know how to look at myself

well all around us are people who don’t know

until someone calls for a boycott

and someone else with no disposable income

promises publicly they won’t spend it

 

~

 

I honestly don’t know

how to scare the fuck out of him—

he has too much money to care

it sucks that even white girls can’t get justice

and the rest of us are supposed to keep writing

about the time someone put their hand up our legs

the time someone put something else up something else

it’s just holes it’s just ugly appendages

it’s just an orifice

it’s just someone’s entire history of violence

it’s just going dead inside for one to seven minutes

it’s just sleeping in unwanted sperm

it’s just someone’s parent who knows their son

     & he would never never hurt anyone

it’s just marrying someone who has offshore accounts

in the Seychelles and using bitcoins to buy more land in Puerto Rico

it’s just writing on instagram: “best decision I ever made

marrying this one”

now no one is afraid to get drinks with “this one”

he’s “safe” because he married a nerd who thinks

she’s a 19th century aristocrat

everyone with secret wealth

publicly fetishizes rich people’s ideas of thrift

it sucks I’m too violent to be praised

by actually powerful people

they prefer the dummies who feel

sorry for all the Roman Polanski films

they can’t stream anymore

on moral grounds

they’ll only retweet that article about

how women are monsters too

I mean get fucking real

did someone with this level of professional achievement

actually agonize for three weeks

over watching that scene in Annie Hall

where Diane Keaton cucks Woody Allen

so gracefully and deceptively?

I once saw a group of future

Men Going Their Own Ways

actually praise the movie as if it weren’t

the nightmare they wrote their manifestos against

 

~

 

#goals for a white supremacy that outlaws

any dick stiffening outside a vagina

the followers of thor’s hammer can’t get enough

of these sideways asian cunts

they worship odin

but can’t get hard unless there’s a chink around

I guess it’s true women are so powerful

that a single drop of cum landing anywhere

but inside our wombs would destroy western civ

can anyone resolve then how

a single drop of unwanted cum

can make my friends and I actual survivors?

I would never call myself a survivor

just because that skinny little pencil dick

went in and then fell out

~ too skinny ~ I screamed

it hurts all the more

thanks to all the unused surface area

how did both of us come away from that

thinking each other was the nazi

 

~

 

when I was fourteen I actually prayed

for someone to rape me

how was I supposed to know

what that word meant

how it would actually feel

it was the fastest route to attention

all the other ways I was broken

didn’t ~ count ~

how was I supposed to know

nothing counts if you’re a woman in pain

how was I supposed to know

the more I talk about my pain

the more white people literally profit

how was I supposed to know then

I was already eroticizing my trauma

in order to seem luckier than the girls I knew

who talked in terms of disfigurement

are there any women left

who haven’t cried on tape?

every time I say something

a man I’ve never thought about even once in my life

lets me know how it makes him feel

this is one of the best strategies

to get me to think about you

what a fucking prison it is

to be inside this femme mind

I wish it could end right here

but actually pessimism is more than sane

this body has never been touched consensually

are you kidding me???

exploitation doesn’t stop just because

I started doing mad push-ups

and worked on my core

I hate this reality but neither

will I just die

I will live okay

I will bite my tongue until it’s gone

not to make any kind of point

though it is true one way

to seize the means of production

might be self-mutilation

might be suicide without a note

no warnings on facebook

no threats on twitter

just go away

let the paper write an obituary

for someone who resembles you

the dead don’t laugh

they don’t applaud heroic acts

they don’t have unfinished business

they aren’t salvation for the living

they are dead dead dead

& deserve

at least

some rest


These poems are reprinted with permission from My Baby First Birthday (Tin House Books) out on May 12, 2020. The book is available for purchase here.

Jenny Zhang was born in Shanghai and grew up in New York. She is the author of the poetry collection Dear Jenny, We Are All Find and the story collection Sour Heart.

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