Ai Ogawa

Salomé By Ai Ogawa

Salomé By Ai Ogawa

Salomé I scissor the stem of the red carnation and set it in a bowl of water. It floats the way your head would, if I cut it off. But what if I tore you apart for those afternoons when I was fifteen and so like a bird of paradise slaughtered for its feathers. Even my name suggested wings, wicker cag... »

Conversation By Ai Ogawa

Conversation By Ai Ogawa

Conversation We smile at each other and I lean back against the wicker couch. How does it feel to be dead? I say. You touch my knees with your blue fingers. And when you open your mouth, a ball of yellow light falls to the floor and burns a hole through it. Don’t tell me, I say. I don’t ... »

Riot Act, April 29, 1992 By Ai Ogawa

Riot Act, April 29, 1992 By Ai Ogawa

Riot Act, April 29, 1992 I’m going out and get something. I don’t know what. I don’t care. Whatever’s out there, I’m going to get it. Look in those shop windows at boxes and boxes of Reeboks and Nikes to make me fly through the air like Michael Jordan like Magic. While ... »

Woman To Man By Ai Ogawa

Woman To Man By Ai Ogawa

Woman to Man Lightning hits the roof, shoves the knife, darkness, deep in the walls. They bleed light all over us and your face, the fan, folds up, so I won’t see how afraid to be with me you are. We don’t mix, even in bed, where we keep ending up. There’s no need to hide it: you&#... »

Passage For Allen Ginsberg By Ai Ogawa

Passage For Allen Ginsberg By Ai Ogawa

Passage For Allen Ginsberg Sunflowers beside the railroad tracks, sunflowers giving back the beauty God gave you to one lonely traveler who spies you from a train window as she passes on her way to another train station. She wonders if she were like you rooted to your bit of earth would she be happy... »

Twenty-Year Marriage By Ai Ogawa

Twenty-Year Marriage By Ai Ogawa

Twenty-year Marriage You keep me waiting in a truck with its one good wheel stuck in the ditch, while you piss against the south side of a tree. Hurry. I’ve got nothing on under my skirt tonight. That still excites you, but this pickup has no windows and the seat, one fake leather thigh, press... »

Passing Through By Ai Ogawa

Passing Through By Ai Ogawa

Passing Through “Earth is the birth of the blues,” sang Yellow Bertha, as she chopped cotton beside Mama Rose. It was as hot as any other summer day, when she decided to run away. Folks say she made a fortune running a whorehouse in New Orleans, but others say she’s buried somewher... »

The Kid By Ai Ogawa

The Kid By Ai Ogawa

The Kid My sister rubs the doll’s face in mud, then climbs through the truck window. She ignores me as I walk around it, hitting the flat tires with an iron rod. The old man yells for me to help hitch the team, but I keep walking around the truck, hitting harder, until my mother calls. I pick ... »

Nothing But Color By Ai Ogawa

Nothing But Color By Ai Ogawa

Nothing But Color I didn’t write Etsuko, I sliced her open. She was carmine inside like a sea bass and empty. No viscera, nothing but color. I love you like that, boy. I pull the kimono down around your shoulders and kiss you. Then you let it fall open. Each time, I cut you a little and when y... »

Motherhood, 1951 By Ai Ogawa

Motherhood, 1951 By Ai Ogawa

Motherhood, 1951 Dear Saint Patrick, this is Peggy, Or maybe it’s Pegeen to you, Well, I’m really Stella Mae. Peggy’s my nickname, But anyway, will you please tell me What to do about the rattlesnake That’s in my room? I know it’s there, But I can’t find it anywhe... »

Killing Floor By Ai Ogawa

Killing Floor By Ai Ogawa

Killing Floor 1. RUSSIA, 1927 On the day the sienna-skinned man held my shoulders between his spade-shaped hands, easing me down into the azure water of Jordan, I woke ninety-three million miles from myself, Lev Davidovich Bronstein, shoulder-deep in the Volga, while the cheap dye of my black silk s... »

Grandfather Says By Ai Ogawa

Grandfather Says By Ai Ogawa

Grandfather Says “Sit in my hand.” I’m ten. I can’t see him, but I hear him breathing in the dark. It’s after dinner playtime. We’re outside, hidden by trees and shrubbery. He calls it hide-and-seek, but only my little sister seeks us as we hide and she can’... »

Disregard By Ai Ogawa

Disregard By Ai Ogawa

Disregard Overhead, the match burns out, but the chunk of ice in the back seat keeps melting from imagined heat, while the old Hudson tiptoes up the slope. My voile blouse, so wet it is transparent, like one frightened hand, clutches my chest. The bag of rock salt sprawled beside me wakes, thirsty a... »

Cuba, 1962 By Ai Ogawa

Cuba, 1962 By Ai Ogawa

Cuba, 1962 When the rooster jumps up on the windowsill and spreads his red-gold wings, I wake, thinking it is the sun and call Juanita, hearing her answer, but only in my mind. I know she is already outside, breaking the cane off at ground level, using only her big hands. I get the machete and walk ... »

Barquisimeto By Ai Ogawa

Barquisimeto By Ai Ogawa

Barquisimeto, Venezuela, October 27, 1561 Today it rained vengefully and hard and my men deserted me. My kingdom was as close as calling it by name. Peru. I braid your hair, daughter, as you kneel with your head in my lap. I talk softly, stopping to press your face to my chest. Vera Cruz. Listen. My... »