• Haolun Xu

Ode To Earthly Creatures


read by Haolun Xu



the family is teaching me how to cook by twisting my left arm clockwise /

so when I yell out / the recipe can work / without need of further language /

what is the proof of a voice / against the calming of a sound

I take lessons to damage my body / The instructor, online, praises me for having no form.

Like cam boy / like gingerbread / like a melted cough drop in the mouth / like pure solution

I play gender like a cheap chore / sometimes I drop it / and I have to lick it off the floor

can I ask if genius and ulcer is the same thing / to both : withstand and disprove it

my body is an empty clay urn / looking for crush and heat and / angulation

I’m asking if pain is real / the turning of science to fact / if pain can be true love to me /

so is pain real / My doctor asks me / to be polite : and says

repetition is practice / makes loyalty / but / I'm not getting any stronger and

I'm still asking if pain can be real / what is the grammar of a reckoning /

so I stand below each lone pine tree / and like presidents in the field /

I hold my hands up just like dirt-branches / from above my head

Like shelter / like rock / like repeating the word heaven /

until it's real / until it hurts my mouth

Haolun Xu was born in Nanning, China. He immigrated to the United States in 1999 as a child. He was raised in central New Jersey. Haolun's writing is featured or forthcoming in The Florida Review, New Ohio Review, Witness, and more. His chapbook, Ultimate Sun Cell, is forthcoming with New Delta Review. Find him on Twitter @haolun1.