Six Poems by Jane Wong


Editorial Statment by Sueyeun Juliette Lee: This selection comes from a short manuscript of Jane Wong’s, titled Impossible Map. Wong’s poems speak to me with a dark urgency. They remind me that the world is in slow collapse about us. This patient devastation is mirrored internally, as well. Our memories may one day pepper our psychological landscapes with the same strangeness and beauty that whale bones litter a shore. Such thoughts pain me to consider, but strike me with the clarity of truth. I’m a fan. I hope you’ll be, too.



from Impossible Map


[ Winged map, collapsing wood

In a fire diverging

This exploration of the lungs

Candle held cricket

Because I am a body I make decisions

I left for no apparent reason except ]



[ To be inside the ghosts

I felt translated

The missing tissue from my mouth

Slight unease in a dark tunnel

Silence as a ladder, drawn toward

The wild blooming cauliflower

A triangle folds across its center into

The idea of a swan

Resting in a field of cauliflower

The day in my hair, the dimming hour

Having arrived here, briefly

I held this compass to fill ]



[ It’s not the weight of the lake in effect

Or the longing look through which tragedy

Rests your head

I retained all my limbs despite failing

To complete a full circle

Absolute beginnings, the fog covering

An echo rising from the skeleton of a whale

I almost called out, I am


The hovering ribs

Such large nimbostratus clouds above ]



[ The wind unfurls a heavy disgrace

I feel a punching by my side

Flare in the mud, growling

Mirror of my face, doorknob for

No door here

Simply ground, the rolling train

Carrying potential forward

What does it mean to be okay?

A hit to the head means you get to watch me all night

My eyes open, my syllables

Open ]



[ Dream of my grandfather as a boy

It’s enough to press ferns into an old book

And call that preservation

At its most fragile, the watery stems

A mixture of root and snow

I said to him, give my voice a run, a try

Worth every leaf/grief

For the gold glint in my eye is only temporary

Too much empathy keeps me

Surrounded by ghosts and cats carrying dead gifts

I am no longer allowed to feel tender ]



[ I regret leaving through the window

This does not suffice for an apology

I was born with a cheap clairvoyance

My clairvoyance only works at noon

To touch the edge of something sharp and know it has the potential to do harm

Potential, more than anything

My dangling legs from the window replacing the ivy

At the end of a long hallway, something is waiting for me

Its purpose is to ghost

Sneaking light under a door

The quiet beacon, microscope of where I’m calling from ]



Jane Wong received her MFA from the University of Iowa and currently lives in Seattle, WA. She has been awarded a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to Hong Kong and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Mid-American Review, Versal, CutBank, Octopus, The Journal, and others.

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