I was sleeping so deeply until three bags
Of cashews, pumpkin seeds, and almonds all climbed up on
My bed to sneeze & crack up these unbalanced,
Nutty, psychotic jokes on the nature of same sex
Video-taping & same sex lubricants – carnal butter to massage onto
The bony asses of cashews
I prefer the generic name for tree climbing in same sex marriage
I prefer the prefix for 13 grams of salt
I could lick anything off that hemp flower which you idolize
Which you call your own rich resource of protein
Love me processed love me with just enough anacardic acids
Love me until I see our personal dermatologist for my rash
In one video your lips were so full forcing me
Take my glass of water from our nightstand to the bathroom sink
& empty them out to make room for your saliva
For your sweet mouth which abduct
My geraniums in the middle of the night
I am saturated in ether
I long to breathe while holding an aquarium near you
I long for the three girls to tie their plastic hair together
To sit quiescently on the edge of a lake
To wait for them to fall over
To listen while they drown
Out all the noises which I consider the ultimate lithium
Of shelling & roasting a dream before a nightmare takes over


This disappointment is only temporary
As I have been so suicidal for so long
This grief is a merchandise
Purchased for solitude 
Purchased for isolation
We all take our silhouettes into our closet
Bite our names off a plate
We want redemption for our employment 
Castrate our bone into a grave
Born for impossibility 
But not castratity
I don’t care anymore
We have our memory 
The texture of convenience 
The pattern of imploring
We have this thing we conjured from
We want to caress the darkness
We want to deny the moment 
As ardent as our contemporaries 
We want a glass vase of beauty
Water running from a well
And our throat sore from desire
Our mouth a second temple
We are here because we have become spears


We all cope with anxiety differently
She is talking to her brother to calm him down
I am waiting for Romeo, the tree, to climb through my window
To be my makeshift dress for tomorrow
She asks me what dress should you wear for your reading
While I ponder her previous sentence:,
“Violence is revised to coughing in New York.”
Is the energy in the city really so strange?
Cautious words on the tip of her tongue
She tells me “A tree shall grow.” Followed by:
“You have a skin tone that is both faintly
Yellow but the undertone is smoke.”
A green dress will look good with it
How did she recall my skin tone so well?
We never spoke about the saurischianque ring
She left covertly and quietly in my bag
About me being her Jewish wife
The night I left New York City for Sin
And, now she is buying me a green dress to cope
Outside of my window, the palm tree is stealthily
Hiding her face behind mental relapse
Palm fingers staging calmness collectively
While bashing her verdant hair across the
Expanse of the naked blue sky, whispering
“Your ink work is influenced by Greek vases.”
I try to capture everything : how she needs a
Wife, but it can’t be me – because as she said so well,
“I know from your writing that you understand space.”
I have sat with her at a bar in Greenwich Village while she drank
Kava – and I, as lucid as paper, tasted pineapples
If I marry her: we would look good together: femme on femme
She is elegant: has exquisite taste in furniture & dogs
Then I remember now: our social classes clashed
I couldn’t connect with her wealth I couldn’t understand
Why she dry-cleaned my black dress and let me travel to Baltimore with it
Why she didn’t descend those flights of stairs after she has gone outside for a smoke.

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: Original artwork by Vi Khi Nao.