Jane Wong


The doctor says I have no reflexes.
It’s a miracle really,

how I’ve stopped blinking.
How I can shut a door without

looking at it. A stranger sings me
a lullaby in a hotel lobby.

The chandelier leans in
a little closer. Removing the ceiling

is difficult but necessary.
Lights clink to the floor,

archways loosen their jaws.
I pour leftover oil from a pan

into a vase. The flowers develop
an addiction. It’s not my fault.

This meanness around the petals.
The veins of a flower run

through me. Is there room enough
to run in the dark? The morning

packs up its suitcase and leaves
through the window, stinking

of cowardice. It’s not easy,
taking out stitches one by one.

Sworn in and thorn out,
without warning or warranty.

We both know a field covered
in paint is not right.

I am knee deep in scrub grass,
an off-white gloss,

glowing in the clearing.
I hate it when people say

our bodies are mostly made of water.
I am tired of pouring out.

This self, evaporating
as soon as it breaks.


Jane Wong holds an MFA from the University of Iowa. She has been awarded a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to Hong Kong and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the Fine Arts Work Center. Poems have appeared in Mid-American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Salt Hill, The Volta, CutBank, Best New Poets 2012, and others. She lives in Seattle and teaches at the University of Washington and the Richard Hugo House.


Editor’s Note:

For the Autumn, this column will tour the Pacific NW.

Capitol Hill, Seattle, is the booze-soaked alterna-punk-queer mecca every independent record store has wet dreams of becoming. It’s also the best place in Seattle to see tech millionaires-on-paper away from their Lamborghinis. More hipster than hippie, more post-hipster than hipster, groups of four and five Seattleites dot the cross-streets puffing on one-hitters, even a block from the police station. A reading is for sure happening at Vermillion bar. And on Saturday nights, there are many places to stand to hear four-to-the-floor beats at three different BPMs leak from different clubs to muddle your conversation.  -DD


photo credit L. Ciccarello