A Poem by Timothy Liu

Leda and the Swan

A suicide bomber detonates in the marketplace. No one I know.

Put on some Roberta Flack.

He won the Pulitzer. For the second time. A third. Touch the spines of your cloth editions, sniff the pages. Everything is limited.

The oil fields of Kuwait. Trickle-down economics. The price of crude.

He won the Nobel. No one you know.

A suicide bomber detonates in the marketplace. A second time. A third. Trickle-down economics.

I dreamed the signed editions I bought online each had an inscription made out to me. Before I was born.

Seems it took a long time for the reports to get here, for the words to sink in, everything ahead of their time.

Her name was Roberta. Roberta Frost. What a drag. Gender bending her ass across a granite countertop till her man gushed pearl. The price of crude.

The illiteracy rate, state by state. Who’s on top, bottom. Everything trickles down in the marketplace where a suicide bomber fails to detonate.

Seems it took a long time for your man to get off. What a drag. Wig askew.

Her name was Roberta Frost. No one I know.

Meet me in the oil fields of Kuwait. Before we were born.

I dreamed I was giving an acceptance speech in the hallowed halls of a dank and lowly edifice, suicide vest bulging underneath my puffy coat. April is the cruelest month.

What will it be this time, a grande chai latte or a venti mocha topped with whipped cream? Your name? Roberta. No soy.

He was gushing pearl. A second time. A third. We even exchanged places, state by state, a top to bottom trickle-down economics.

Meet me on a granite countertop. Put on some Roberta Flack. Undo the clasps of my suicide bra.

The MacArthurs I bought online each had inscriptions on them, words I knew I’d forget the minute I woke. The price of crude. Genius.

My father gushing pearl, sending a tremor through my mother’s marketplace. Before I was born.

Remember scratch and sniff? Remember mad libs? Remember growing your very own Chia pet in the dark recesses of your desk at school while someone else droned on: “And miles to go before I sleep.”

Change or repeat / change or repeat / change or

This is an illiteracy test of the emergency broadcast system. Had there been an actual emergency . . .

What a drag. Waking up. Going out of this life in a cloud of puffy down when my suicide bra went off.

Timothy Liu’s latest book is Don’t Go Back To Sleep. He lives in Manhattan and Woodstock, NY.

The Poetry Section is edited by Mark Bibbins.