Three Poems by Kimiko Hahn

BOMB 111 Spring 2010
Issue 111  Cover 2

Big Feathered Hats

worn by women a century ago
would necessitate aligning the body in a threshold

just so. It’s this just so

that intrigues Professor Iriki,
who has probed clumps of tissue

to uncover how cells and circuits

map the world around it

to the body’s schema.
To sense that tight spot

whether concrete
or like the night her lover admitted

he’d had an affair with his own mother—
his word, affair

and she knew in her bones
which was really her brain

that she should get the fuck out.
Those feathers. That exit.



Victor Hugo claimed that dreams
are the aquarium of the night

confirming for the tourist
the mysterious hush

when viewing the depths sealed behind plate glass.
Even more than dream, I wish

to name the various species;
to stare at or flee the one that sports a playmate’s face

blinking back at me. Cathedral of science!
Cathedral of childhood! Of childhood nights!

Of adult—what? Of remorse as a hall
to which we pay admission?


Swinburne Island
for E

We collect what we collect with varying intent
from mammy dolls to gall wasps;
and for a fledgling ornithologist, cormorant vomit,

or what his advisor describes as
frantic ichthyology—a search for ear bones or other fragments
that could identify a certain species among the partially digested.

The handsome devil-birds that dive like penguins
and fly like ducks are drying their spread wings
when Colin climbs onto some rocks

just below the Verrazano-Narrows. On Swinburne Island,
once a quarantine for immigrants, now rubble,
the young man sees the birds flushed from thickets

and hears the dumping of stomach contents—
which they do to lighten for take off or signal, Get lost.
Or flaunt what’s been consumed:

Grandma Ida’s wienerschnitzel. Uncle Jack’s Sunday comics.
Auntie Kimiye’s pearls. Burying a tiny terrier up to its neck
but just for ten minutes. A little sister’s blanket.

A thump, smelling of mummified fish remains
and prized by an ambitious graduate student
whose own gut is frantic with fortune, tangy and rotten.

This issue of First Proof is sponsored in part by the Bertha and Isaac Liberman Foundation.

Kimiko Hahn’s forthcoming book, Toxic Flora (W. W. Norton), in which these poems will appear, is inspired by the science section of the New York Times. She teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation, Queens College, The City University of New York.

Crossing Her Mind by Kimiko Hahn
Rehearsing Violence: Nomi Stone Interviewed by Jasmine Dreame Wagner

The poet on her new collection of documentary poetry, military simulation zones, and how Americans are regularly ensconced in the diorama of war.

Field Work: Jeffrey Yang’s Hey, Marfa by Nathaniel Tarn
Jeffrey Yang Cover

An anthropoetry of Marfa, Texas, and far beyond.

The Story of Our Lives Do Not Have Faces: Sally Wen Mao Interviewed by Anne Anlin Cheng
Oculus 1

The poet on her new collection and how a person lost to history can survive in the imaginary possibilities of art.

Originally published in

BOMB 111, Spring 2010

Featuring interviews with Guy Ben-Ner, T.J Wilcox and Anne Collier, Sam Lipsyte and Christopher Sorrentino, Carlos Reygadas, Patricia Clarkson and Howard Altmann, David Sylvian and Keith Rowe, Edgar Arceneaux and Charles Gaines and Rick Lowe, Charles Bernstein. 

Read the issue
Issue 111  Cover 2