you watch your mother
            run scissors, blackened
with fire, antiseptic, against
            the wreath of your head,
she is singing—her voice
            swaddled in tongues, yours
somewhere in your gut
            netted in acid. a dirtied
patch of smoke tendrils
            nestles to your ear—
saturnine from flame, your
            skin translucent, hairs
collected in your navel. you
            feel swollen, discontented.
rebirth—your skin melds
            to a white wall. every
hand that touches you
            dissipates. again, again—
you, this collection of
            punctures, a nursery rhyme
that never made it to the
            books. your mother runs her
hand against the backside of
            your skull, and it feels heavy
and empty all at once. you are
            crying now; in twenty years,
you ask yourself why
            you remember the blade.



It’s not what’s outside,
                                                but how I’m confined in illusion.

I like to think that
           rouge stains rubbing on clotted clouds
are afterthoughts of overlined lipstick
                                                we only wear outdoors.

Too soon my skin soaks blue at dusk
            and I draw the blinds

Glass—nets—unsolved enigmas decaying in corners—

                 posters of what I am not—unread Flannery O’Connor—ghosts frozen in euphoria—

In truth, I don’t look out my window. Sometimes I am mesmerized
by heaven        spilling through                        fissures.

                        Granite is not perfect.
            Look how they crack along footsteps.

Brick roads are uneven, and so are the shadows of bodies believing they are unseen.
          With music flickering in the background they can continue pretending they are

Look at how the sun fades. Look at how the boy I once loved tilts his chin toward God.
                  If I had to reproduce the sky I do not know who could complete such a task.

Lanterns try to             trick me
                                                     There cannot be        so many suns at the same time
It’s dark outside
            when I don’t look
                                                                                                            I am always silent
                                                                                                 I chew on my own words




Diana Khong is a full-time poet and part-time ghost. She's founder and editor-in-chief of Kerosene Magazine and is staff at Noble Gas Quarterly, Ascend, and Red Queen Literary Magazine. Her work specializes in female sexuality, decolonization, and the shape of mouths. For updates, you can find her frequenting social media on Twitter and Tumblr, both @deerthrum.

Nadia Eugene Jo is a student at Deerfield Academy, an independent boarding high school in Massachusetts. Her works have been recognized by Creative Communication and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She lives in South Korea.