Poetry Spotlight #20: Franny Choi

Poetry Spotlight #20: Franny Choi

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 installment is dedicated to the work of Franny Choi.


Franny is a queer, Korean-American poet, playwright, teacher, organizer, pottymouth, GryffinClaw, and general overachiever. She is the author of Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014) and the forthcoming Soft Science (Alice James Books, 2019), as well as a chapbook, Death by Sex Machine (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). A Kundiman fellow and member of the Dark Noise Collective, she holds an MFA from the University of Michigan and co-hosts the podcast VS with fellow poet Danez Smith.




as if closeness is a cure

in the stories people touch each other
in the bathroom, in the supply closet, under

a blanket or through latex, leather. collared
& splayed. begging — as if touching’s

the thesis. in the stories a whole fist.
hands everywhere. skewered at both ends until

a last shudder saves the day. then pull up the sheets
& drift, satisfied, into forgetting. meanwhile

everyone i love is going extinct.
i turn on the lights

& elsewhere a massacre. elsewhere a school:
rubble again. a prison. dogs split apart in the heat.

meanwhile things keep being what they are.
so. how else to get touched. but admitting: this hurts

everywhere, it hurts     it hurts.






Because I did not have to smell the cow’s fear,
because I did not have to pin the man, watch his eyes
go feral, because I did not have to drag the stones
that formed in the child’s body, because I did not sheathe
my hands in dank soil, or skirt the machine’s battering, the                                                                                                  needles
knitting my lower back, because when the factory collapsed
I smelled no smoke, and no one made me kneel at the cop’s boots
and count the pulse slowing beside me as every sound
soured, because my hands have never had to resist being                                                                                          comforted
by the warmth of blood, because the plastic-
wrapped meat and the mousetraps, because my job
was to stay clean and thankful and mostly imaginary, I have been                                                                                        stealing
what little I can:
                         onions.  sandpaper.  handfuls of skin.
the dumpster’s metal groan.  hurried breath. hot knives.







To see, to come, I brought myself online.
O dirty church. O two-way periscope,
refectory for Earth’s most skin-starved cocks.
O hungry sons of helicopter palms

in hopeful carousel. O gatling spray
of skin that charges forth from dim-lit shorts
when I wave back, nod, yes, I’m here, I’m real,
and shape myself a woman’s shape, a girl’s

live-action hologram projected on
their basement brains. My foul amygdala
Prince Thirstings, desperate congregations, pink
or blue-brown mammals begging for my face.

Outside the frame, my eight eyes narrow. Yes.
I nod. Amen. I am your filthy god.

: : : :

I nod. Amen. I am your filthy god,
your predator-elect. I’ll wrap your mouths
in silken Os around my phantom thumb.
Now drink. I’ll scrape the lonely from your teeth,

defuse the ticking marrow in your pit,
that clotted place you call a heart. I’ll flash
a blood-sloshed smile and whisper, do you want
to marry it? To take me as your law?

I’ll make you liquid men. I’ll watch you eat
my image, icon, rumor of a god
who wants you back. Who wants to watch you dance
your crooked dance, your sad attempts at flight.

But stay down, insect, stay. Just send them here,
your salt-licked gifts, to prove you know I’m real.

: : : :

These salt-logged gifts, they promise me I’m real.
My body is its image, here. My image,
just an always-dying thing, asking its own
disgusting question. Yes, I do have bones.

I gag on water. Yes, my blood eats air
and makes a mess beneath my skin. And what
do I consume? Whatever keeps me flesh.
Tonight: a tide of faceless supplicants

who call me by the name my mother made
with mud and marrow, veins, vermillion, silk;
they call me baby. Call me vertebrate.
They christen me with tongues against the glass.

I drink and drink their looking, til I’m soaked.
I drink and drown in want. I drink, and choke.

: : : :

I drink and drown in want. I drink. I choke
just like a girl, exactly like a girl
who’s come to rot, to retch. To cough it up.
To drool mascara down her shaking chin.

I am the kind of girl who looks for men
to wipe away her face. I am the kind
of girl to peel her skin and show the work
of worms below. The kind to open up,

I guess, in public, in the stocks – that’s me,
oh god. A trough for ants. A dirty plate.
A sour, yellow streak behind the fridge.
Chicken skin distending. Sweat spots. Milk.

I wanted nothing. Please, I didn’t mean
to end this way – a smear of gut and shell.

: : : :

To end this way, a smear of gut and shell
against the bedroom wall, crushed by a thumb
belonging to a man, a swatting fan
in heat? Don’t worry. That’s not how I go.

Look. Even when I wanted it, I didn’t
always. Couldn’t always bring myself
to crack the shell, suck out the pearly meat,
tie up what’s left and feed it to my brood.

Not skin, not god, not bones, my own, or theirs.
It was the web I wanted all along:
A face to spin from air with spit and hands.
A sticky picture luring meals to leave

untouched. To be a girl untouched, alive,
who sees, and comes. Who brings herself online.





[“SM” was previously published in HeART Journal in November 2017; “Quarantine” was included in poets.org’s Poem-A-Day series, in January 2018; “Chatroulette” was originally published in BOAAT PRESS’ Online Journal in March 2017]



God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.