THREE POEMS BY VI KHI NAO



THE EROTIC ECONOMY

The economy of your desire
Has entered the ice age overnight
Frozen lakes of despair
How long will it take to thaw out
Your hair, exogenous zones, the Everglades
Of your tongue & finger mortgages
The unemployment benefits of our
Kisses have plunged into 26 millions
There are billions of stimulation
But none could get the dick hard
Enough to kick the depression away
I am starving tens and thousands
Of your pleasure points
There is intimacy famine of biblical scope
Amongst the transit workers of
Your sex drives & our therapists tell me
It’s a good time to homeschool your nipples
It’s a good time to social distance
The bank account of today from yesterday
It’s a good time to reopen the masturbation
Of defeatism and melancholy
It’s a good time to give inadequate aids
To your broken toes, your misguided hormones
It’s a good time to budget constraint
The lingerie of the pandemic
I want to kiss the global economy away
I want this nightmare to be over
I want the freedom to walk the white
Arctic bears of your warmth, your devotion,
Your ardent disposition, your penchant for
Sympathy and altruism down
The avenues of our bedsheets
The color of this rice paddy and lay your
Soft mouth against the flesh of my atrophy.


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YOU ARE MY HENBANE

An umbrella pretends to be a lampshade near my lover’s nightstand
When it rains, the umbrella shows her true skin
Meanwhile, my lampshade is electrocuted
In the rain
And, so is my lover. Sprawled out on the bathroom tile like some jimson weed.
Not on an electric chair. For killing:
My mother, the glass of milk. My sister, the lip-gloss. My brother, the alarm clock.
My father, the bedspread. My cousin, the laptop. My mother-in-law, the stool.
But for wanting to be a parasol
Of this nightshade family
This hot sweet potato. This elongated eggplant.
This swimming pool of black berries.
This radiating capsicum peppers.
Let me stroke this tobacco while you turn one shade of blue.
Let me smoke you after you turn into ash & coal.


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ATOMIC NUMBER 53

I wine with your iodine
Antiseptic like seaweed and brine
Profiting black crystals on your overall
In relative terms – the door only swings open on the left
When you close your eyes & let me in to clasp your sodium
A narrow button on your yellow blouse
Every glance you give echoes its telemetry of intimacy
Versatile in me only in its volatility
While your violet vapor weeps next to my winter gloves
In this dream – you are stacked on my pyramid of touch
Royal tomb for your renal complex
Lick me where I am anal
Lick me because it’s palliative
Salt isn’t an experienced sailor without old
I am told to withhold in order to remove hope from deploying
Let’s smooch Let’s smooch
I only employ coyness when I mislead your missile from integrating


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Vi Khi Nao was born in Long Khánh, Vietnam. She is the author of Human Tetris (11:11 Press), Sheep Machine (Black Sun Lit, 2018), Umbilical Hospital (Press 1913, 2017), the short stories collection A Brief Alphabet of Torture, which won FC2’s Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize in 2016, the novel Fish in Exile (Coffee House Press, 2016), and the poetry collection, The Old Philosopher, which won the Nightboat Books Prize for Poetry in 2014.  Her work includes poetry, fiction, film and cross-genre collaboration. Her stories, poems, and drawings have appeared in NOON, Ploughshares, Black Warrior Review and BOMB, among others. She holds an MFA in fiction from Brown University, where she received the John Hawkes and Feldman Prizes in fiction and the Kim Ann Arstark Memorial Award in poetry.

*Image Credit: “MS. JACKFRUIT”, pen and ink drawing by Vi Khi Nao.