retrograde / excuses for war By Jasmine Kapadia

retrograde / excuses for war

chapped lips and it is night, and already
i have hit the gas-station ground with bruised knees.
call it a replay
trick of the universe, planet gone missing, ama stumbles somewhere
and fades into ghost in rice-paddy

how quickly mercury can ruin things. except the murmur
of fervent dialect and tongues
pierced through corners of mouths, prayer to mother, buddha / shàng dì / an
unknown god / they said demonic / us or our rituals?
conseiller mystérieux qui accompagne partout le pretendant / do we worship
/ pregnant with sobs
to heaven or to earth and which / can save us?
no room in mouths of rice for jesus, though still half-full

in this low- / lantern / -light, you can be forgiven for mistaking
duck yolk on upper lip as blood, or bodies thrown off train as
beautiful. ama is curled
into the warm embrace of dead people and marsh plants,
holding hands with a Kuomintang fighter plane

or a Kuomintang himself, who really knows the difference

i want to go home and it seems childish under fallen
bodies and incense. we worship ancestors like they can save us /
because they can? / prayer / to nobody in particular / to
wipe us clean. there are no sins in the act of war

except for surviving,
watching burning temples and burning cropland and valuing
one over the other-
the first man to open the door is always
white devil, lǎo wài / and textbooks washed clean with rice-wine

dust air

tropical air / plane lands and i am awake again
lying flat on gas-station ground, blinking the porridge out of
my system like it is a crime / to be full / retrograde.

By Jasmine Kapadia


Jasmine Kapadia is a poet and high schooler. She is a JUST POETRY!!! topical winner, has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and is regularly featured in Write the World’s monthly highlights (@Jasmine_K). When not writing, she can be found blasting Beyonce in her room or watching Rupaul’s Drag Race. Find her on Instagram @jazzymoons

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