Three Poems

Someday I’ll love Bryan Liu

After Frank O’Hara / After Roger Reeves / After Ocean Vuong

without exception, yet apologizing,
until every page is full 

of last-minute dinner reservations 
for one. I swear I will feed us 

as long as you pay for it, just write it down 
in this notebook and say it’s tonight’s menu. 

Here is a blank page 
don’t worry Bryan,

it is only a mirror,
and you can break it

just promise me you will 
put the pieces together

and say it’s a novel.
Here is the pack of cigarettes 

that will kiss you back. 
They might even love you 

if you suck harder.
I swear I can breathe 

without them, but all I taste is 
me — bent over the sink, 

brushing my teeth until the taste is gone.
You only remember your father when you look

in the mirror and turn the lights off. 
You keep scrubbing your face 

like his skin will forgive you
if you wash it off — it did 

when you found him buried
in the overhead compartment

as you crashed the plane
into those towers. Back when 

he lived
in your suitcase

you would unfold him and wear his skin
because you forgot to pack clothes. He fits

like a surgeon’s glove, holding your hand to stop it 
from shaking as you reach into his chest and cut 

the dotted line around his heart
-shaped box of chocolate

sitting on the dinner table 
because it is your birthday.

Bryan, it’s O.K. — tonight’s a tough crowd.
You are talking about love into the microphone 

and they don’t understand you
because they don’t love you 

like I love you — they won’t,
and you know this, stop lying 

to me. Bryan, you don’t need more 
trauma. Remember people exist 

and you can fuck their bodies. Remember how
they fuck you up and you can unfuck yourself.

Bryan, believe me when I tell you:
there is a god above this ceiling,

and there is always going to be another ceiling.
You wish every line you wrote was to die for. 

You wish you could die for
once and keep doing it. 

But you were born with a roof 
over your mouth, I put it there 

to remind all your lovers 
what heaven tastes like.

Giovanni,

Tell me the dream again.
The one where we makeit out 

behind neon racks of super pretzels in the 7/11
off route 22 — but not after watching our tongues 

turn blue from slushie exposure. 
It’s midnight in Jersey and we have nothing 

better to do except imagine it’s raining somewhere
in Paris. We buy convenience store mangoes 

and eat them out of your car with a Swiss army 
knife, the war slicing yellow cheeks

into chess boards and sucking them dry.
With the same blade, I chiseled gaps into my teeth 

so you could see inside me. 
I slashed my mouth into lips 

so I could kiss you back. I cut my
hands into fingers so I could hold

yours. But you didn’t
notice. So I play with the knife

until I am beautiful. You shove it down my throat
because I am beautiful — it tastes like the chipped edge 

of each dirty quarter you sink into my vending machine
heart — they all jam because it is broken and empty 

inside. I want you to fill the space behind my eyes
with dreams and nuance and a word called love 

I want you to spit in my mouth until it’s full of something 
I can never have. Appetite is only the body’s way of taking

up space, and I am starving.
So when the lips on our faces are open, 

waiting for the oceans between us
to evaporate, silent. I hope you choke

back tears and kiss me anyways.

now it looks like we just made out

is what you said to me 
after your balm-slick fingertips

greased my lips. But we are not 
making out — you are putting chapstick on 

me, and I’m daydreaming. 

Love came in a tube with a twist off cap
filled with greasy cosmetic butter.

We are in a room with three walls
we broke the fourth one because we know better.
We eat on the floor in varying fetal positions
because being at sea-level makes everything taste better.

You must hate the part of me that’s mortal
— I do too. 
But I want you to bruise me.
I want to feel you

there. 
Even if it’s just for tonight,

tell me this carousel stopped for us
tell me the animals are real and we can set them free
because we are impaled like the rest of them
except they are on a merry-go-round

and we are on a planet.

I’m a horse, you’re a rooster.
It feels like a Hopper painting — and I believe you.

I caught your eyes with my hands 
and screwed them back into your sockets 
but not after changing the batteries
so you could look at me — and roll them.

We were taking off our skin
when the lights came on.

And we looked at each other and died 

laughing
— I almost wish we did.
What are you doing?

This is fiction, and it’s better. 

I wish I were him, 
but he wished he were more. 

We never missed the last train 

because we ran through Worcester 
just to find that home
is a body like yours

— and I’d hate to miss you.

Bryan Liu

Bryan Liu is a MCWC masterclass alum from 2023. They grew up in New Jersey — dreaming of California. They used to dorm in Boston, but since relocated to a 14th century castle in the Dutch countryside for a semester thanks to Emerson College's study abroad program. While covering the local DIY music scene for the Boston Institute of Nonprofit Journalism last fall, they also ran a local theater beat for the Cambridge Day newspaper. They will be in Dubai this summer for a fashion internship with Harper's Bazaar Arabia. They like to explore themes of love and loss, fashion, and the Chinese-American experience. A part of them is buried in Mendocino and one day they will get it back. They can give you a better haircut than Edward Scissorhands.