One of the most enriching, forward-thinking, fastest-growing online creative communities flourishing right now is the Poetry community, especially in those scenes that center on marginalized voices — Women, POC, Neurodivergent, and LGBTQ. Poetry Spotlight is a feature aiming to showcase the work of some of the most talented creators we’ve discovered making waves on the Internet literary circles, inside or outside the mainstream. This new installment focuses on the work of Canadian writer Quinn Lui.
Quinn is a Chinese-Canadian student and writer with a fondness for bees and soft fabrics. They are the author of the micro-chapbook teething season for new skin (L’Éphémère Review, 2018) and, currently, an Associate Editor for Acta Victoriana. Their work has been published or is forthcoming in Luna Luna, Occulum, and Half Mystic, among others, as well as profiled in Aspirants Magazine.
is a word more esophagus than aorta. no glamour
in the tremoring, no prideful blood-ink
except as condemnation. price-match
for the least expensive brand of bleach they sell here
and apologize, afterwards, to the ruined silk.
mama says the only words we have for beautiful
are mere derivatives of the original. this too
is how every lovely thing learns to exist, carved
smaller and smaller into a succession of nesting boxes
and square-bracketed fitting rooms. so much of belonging
is exploratory: finding the number of losses
before the perfect match becomes a vanishing act.
i learned my bee-stung accent from her mouth, and
afterwards, sliced the vowels that swelled and rippled
over riverbeds into ice-cubes. their flat sides
and right angles ticked against my teeth
bright as silverware on glass. an apology is waiting here
but i don’t have the words anymore.
a girl from australia once told me i sounded british
and i said it’s all in the enunciation. with enough care
everything can be sharpened into a weapon.
with enough practice everyone can pretend to know
how to close your teeth on untouchable horizons,
the unbitten world a liquid tremble in your mouth.
this again: unsure of where your hair ends
& mine begins, where the cobwebs come
into play. the dust on the floor was forever
seeking some fragility to press into. we were
that kind of childhood ruthless that pools
like white glue in plastic pots, dries on cuticles
to milk-teeth translucence. you tucked
the hurt against yourself like you wanted it
to step inside & slip its limbs into yours,
wanted it to fingerpuppet you into something
singular. every exhale was an act of hollowing, of
coring, of picking out seeds that would not
see spring, only dust growing in regretful slopes
over the shoulders of glass jars.
the fall of your hair
leaves the roll of your vertebrae unattended &
i want to tell you about that dream i imagined
until it turns real enough for me to write it out,
but in the meantime i watch you fold envelopes
into paper planes & cranes with their wings
stuck down. somehow they take to the air anyway;
somehow meaning they’re solid enough to hold
themselves together, cohesion overcoming
adhesive force. & in a mirrored way this is a hazy
sort of affection: doesn’t know how to grasp
your hands, but leaves lines of clear beads
that clutch your fingertips with an undemanding
tightness, like dried layers of paste. this year
the fruits you tend will grow & outgrow that first
terracotta pot you did not break. the roots will slip
magnetic into the earth, secure in their loving
as picture frames to the refrigerator door.
as seen in suburbia
we built a slaughterhouse on our sixth-grade classroom’s
back porch, splinters seeking all our soft parts. you wanted to see
if the wood still carried the imprint of your skull. if two winters
were enough to leach out the bloodstains or if they never
painted anything but the underflesh of your mind. cheeks
patterned with cranberry juice, matching the roseblush on
a porcelain doll. you ground the shards to glitter-dust then
scraped your palms climbing your family tree, finding all the places
where the cartilage wore into unmemory. your own humerus
was a restless thing, flight-feathers coming in under ricepaper
skin. both hands rope-burned, blistered, you outgrow your ribcage
on a sunday night. fill it with flora and clichés and leave it
with the empty planters outside the nearest convenience store.
pin on a sale-sign, snag a can of peach tea without checking
the price. we only ever set foot in here because we didn’t want
to be outside. it’s hot enough to threaten any building’s structural
integrity. when we read hamlet in class you misheard we defy augury
as redefine augury and now you never stop laying out your throat
bare in offering. someone asks why you haven’t left your chest
cavity open for the scavengers to feast and you answer
the front porch isn’t any place for roadkill, decked in flowers or not.