fictional finalism

By Kathy Jiang


maryland turns into my mother’s favorite place.
she never moves there at all.

in the happiest life,
america is a rippling star

in a strange girl’s field,
her lips on my mother’s face,

everything leaves,

so stay.



we’re in France again.
nobody stares.

in the metro tunnel,
then the wind,

bodies sway together,
bells warm in the air.

i climb the louvre,
momentous glass

in hand. i can

the sun.
i can move




what task becomes at hand?
i’m higher than the bowl of greens

i ruined, mom,
last new year’s eve.

i meant to say
i’m sorry for this.

you climbed and gathered
all day, and i watched

from afar, taking dusk
for unfinished business

we couldn’t be
reborn into again.

at the end of this rope
stands another,

wider than God.



under the eyes of good fortune,
she removed her nose/breasts

for love of art
and hatred of the crowd.

the sun is flatter
than God now.



this exercise is meant for release.
palms down, hips up. release.

may we balance our way to an ending
we sure as hell don’t know; release

each other of configurations, teachers and co-pilots
of death anxiety, yawning open, release.

there’s some canine in the vacuum between us,
don’t you think, doc? teeth forward, seeking release

from the forms that brought us here today.
hips and lines of black boxes to sign: for release.

you’re smooth as water in the year of the rat, you know.
enough to spare relief, a hard place to find release.

i think i’ve got life anxiety.
what i am afraid of is release.



where to go from here when once again you come press
your thumb against my asking mouth where i keep
these secrets interpretative soft open unkneeled poems
the unkempt pedaling me close and i mean really really close
on a bicycle to the end of the world we were falling on the nearest beach
we once strolled down the oily dark the starlings on the chesapeake green
could you tell what it was what it held years to come years
to grow within she laid there like jellyfish in a corn field strewn
transparent dendrites of yellow gold strained up towards the sky
her drying cells her wicked hair swept up against
a face i can no longer recall

at all



wet rain
over a blanket

of ears

who never landed


Headshot of Kathy Jiang

Kathy Jiang lives and studies in the Washington, D.C. area. Her poetry can be found in the Seventh Wave, SWWIM Every Day, Up the Staircase Quarterly, DMQ Review, storySouth, and others. She is a 2024 Brooklyn Poets Fellow and was previously Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor at The William and Mary Review.

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