Wendy Xu

If You Feel That Living Is A Little Bit Sad

Someone’s face in a living room bounded
by computer screen is not the same as someone
in a living room. Make choices, then watch
stuff happen. Say yes I agree to take up the dark
pail of my life before this one and empty
its guts into the river. The river thanks me
and shines harder. Overhead these indomitable
stars. These rows of stern white houses
where I thought my friend lived, where
even now young people still gather
around a fire. The fire feels like being removed
from my own face. My own face turns toward
the glimmering water where it burns but
does not burn away.

Dear Future Where Everything Is Hypothetical Except Joy

Sitting here underground is the same
as sitting in a chairlift that spans several
mountains because I am paying attention. If some girls
come in wearing sashes then it is important
to be happy for other people. It is important
to celebrate girls that spend time decorating
each other’s sashes because one girl is about
to love someone forever. If it is a little bit terrible
to tell someone that their hair or mannerisms
suit them especially well on a particular day. Look
how the sashes of the girls are swaying gracefully
beneath a traffic light. If a town is seriously
lacking in other places to go and so we stay
here. I promise it is less important
to me to talk than it is to listen to what
someone is now saying about how many candelabras
it takes to overwhelm a room. If here it seems
like a candelabra could be happy
its whole life. Look at how two pairs of tandem bikers
just went by and believably unplanned, how
important it could be to admit my life already
feels long and I will keep working
at the fulfilling. If in dreams there is no
question of who pulled who from the lake
that was also for some reason burning, me
or the baby wolf. And if later I admit sheepishly
to my friend that too much of everything
seems recurring, it is acceptable to add more ice
to my terrible drink. I like to look
at people who sit there fascinated
by whatever they are talking about
with other people. If later the streetlights shatter me
into pure amazement. Someone’s glass
held up to them will unbelievably be swimming
with fire, but if it is a surprise don’t
ever tell me.


Wendy Xu is the author of You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center 2013) and two chapbooks:The Hero Poems (H_NGM_N) and I Was Not Even Born (Coconut 2013), a collaboration with Nick Sturm. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Verse Daily, Columbia Poetry Review, DIAGRAM, Forklift Ohio, and elsewhere. She lives in Northampton and is the co-editor/publisher of iO: A Journal of New American Poetry / iO Books.