Young Poet: Michael Liu

Michael Liu is a writer from Naperville, Illinois. For Michael, writing has always been a way to question who he is and explore the culture and community he belongs to.


Teeth, the bones I clean,

bite into this pillow.

This bed is not mine,

it is perhaps my late grandfather’s;

or just another metaphor

left in this parcel of land

that could have belonged

to my grandfather.

Inside my eyelids:

two melting balls of chocolate.

Outside my eyelids:

the fields and its bones of rice

seen through the window.

Long ago my grandfather’s son left

for some exodusted nation

and so did I.

Here, the smell is unbearable

and the eyes of my eyes forget themselves

amidst fog, amidst my grandfather’s body

shaped in a certain way when he boils long long noodles.

The chickens sleep and don’t judge us anymore.

They wait, as I do too.

the makings of blood

Under this streetlight you will watch

eight million photons dissect this puddle

until its basic formula is revealed.

From it derives a time without water

when we had held a drop of rain

holier than blood drying

on the side of a temple, a priest

chanting prayers for rain,

holding up a human heart

for the children to see.

From it derives a time without water,

when a hundred thousand trucks

drove down to southern California

with water in their metal wombs.

Let yourself fall in love with it again,

because we are nothing

but memories of the rain.

Look at this puddle one more time,

and watch the rubber wheels of a car

roll through it, blowing out

eight million photons

and the acrid smell of gasoline.

These are the facts of the puddle,

its chemical composition and acidity,

the bottom of little boots that splash them,

and the fingerprints they accumulate.