Photography, Poetry
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the upper arm / other poems

photography by Minu Jun, words by Pooja Tripathi

The Upper Arm
fill it with what you want
to keep close,
at your side,
near droning heartbeat
fill sleeves to prove ownership of heat
(I want you to be warmer
than the morning paper waiting
on the porch)
gift every fiber
with a goosebump, make your own elastic
organs curve
again and again and AGAIN and again
against waves of neuron blowout
the Thai boys are the only ones
you hug these days
(not from behind like when you
slid on cushions down staircase
together and someone finally asked
why you’re a copycat)
identical T-shirts still force
close connection
do nothing but frown and dent shoulder with chin
to prove you’ll miss them once
college days begin

I am 97.4°F +
exaltant flames falling
through body,
forcing empty spaces where
I fed discipline and rounded my corners, calmed stomach,
trimmed hair with crescent vision
and face of an oil moon waning –
these places gaining pressure from exaltant flames
falling through body
digging caves under skin, saving
gas like brine splashes against grotto
and tries so hard to look pretty

My ideal height: 5’6
“I’m so out of shape”
two girls tell me before our run
around aching construction sites
and they promise that I look
just the same
as I did before summer
(we last met in November)
with selfish wells
now sourcing not from lake but sea, after
body in a desert that should’ve
felt like home
among others who see & sigh like me
share ideas not in spirit
but as something physical like
a line, a dance –
like oasis –
I had the idea that they’d
be my finally friends
and know and miss me when I left,
know something worth
having around
a while longer
I am just the same
as I was before summer
still hot-faced (mirages rising)
& losing weight
of heavy hopes
for growth
asleep, transforming
let me ask this: do you know
what houses you?
smoke caught under skin wound like
bread bag rubber bands,
vibrating with every slow
heartbeat and suddenly so big in your head, waves


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