restricted access How to Make Language Lawless
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How to Make Language Lawless *

Bee builds sooty words     poem as fungus waits outside jammed legislative talk therapies for a microphone grab

    Bee and Cook meet late-night belly     pressure infects thunder     resting against rusty jukebox playing only one song

                    I hate twanky Bob Dylan, tries Cook, watching Bee's glint fading into storm.     Bee, a late shift sweater by a tardy bus, re-arranging Cook, Dylan, customers. Puzzling out excessive monster wall.     sting of pepper if bridge between lyric and story     Next-day Cook sears through future's mistaken wine drinking

                    spreads each                    caught between bodiless sea and cracked fired house desiccated letter to maximum though poets generally known for closet space and terminator slash

    when Bee arrives at counter generously slabbing cabinet with sticky words     Cook lean again twinkly cash register dispense cake and salt     brews sometime tea saves firelight if morning ritual and fable dwells soft tissue, in nerves of a bee

grows a poem by building a wall. Very much like a paragraph of future—could be smoke, melody, but             nonetheless wall of word, sold by all churches         thick layer             excreted by morning dew

Bee traps Cook's tiny hairs, itchy fingers, broadbean smile in the wall. Surrounds each paragraph with small direction moat. A base build up through fire and terror. Each layer hesitates to turn corner, to set stone, trap mouse, forward deadline to waiting eyes.

            Not a safe then, not a cozy then.

Dear reader, in the future burn out church                             unfurl script, plant     in the future pavements taint rainbow mouthpieces questions by each in the future graft love from body box

amplifier.         In the future her growth derive from witchy pills         All you'll see of us remains residue. [End Page 258]

Ching-In Chen

CHING-IN CHEN is the author ofThe Heart's Traffic (2009) andrecombinant (2017) as well as co-editor ofThe Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (2016). A Kundiman, Lambda, Callalooand The Watering Hole Fellow, they are part of the Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation writing communities. Their work has appeared inThe Best American Experimental Writing, The & NOW Awards 3: The Best Innovative Writing , andTroubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics . They are senior editor ofThe Conversant and currently teach creative writing and world literature at Sam Houston State University.


*The title taken from a phrase spoken during the Pink Door Fall Retreat 2017, a writing gathering for women and genderqueer writers of color organized by Rachel McKibbens. I first encountered the idea of the poem as fungus from Kimiko Hahn's thinking on the zuihitsu poetic form. Some words borrowed from Cassie Nicholson.