Michelle Phuong Ho

to fill a grave

to dig it again

fistfuls of dirt, tossed

bursting in air

doe after doe

of limping

silence, it is called

between names: smooth black granite

a one-sided memorial

mirrors a biased view

rind, scraped with metal spoons


we love to sink our teeth

a newborn’s cheek, the inside

scraped with metal

we get food

we get off

sucking thigh

bones, clean of meat

no roads lined with ink

the horse wakes, having understood

its breed

it’s open season

squatting, fatigued

by the gutter to piss

a neon trickle

a seminal text

a smashing hit

smashed peas

flown on a fighter jet

a silver spoon

the newborn refuses

taking a stand

peg-legged, certain

I don’t need you, to his own foot

pigeon, toes, grave

of little twigs

on which this

foal stands, then falls

what is the death

of a pigeon, anyway

what is the original wound

around which we organize

our grief

touch me right here

i whispered

quietly, he took my hand in his

and with it, closed

a wet, open hole

panting, gathering sweat

am i your saint, or

real tissue

real careful, what you say

in open season

she had one eye still wide

the other, unblinking

she had smooth black hair

an old heart

clenched fist

peach pit

incised with letters, the face was sadly

two unidentified girls

one cord


attached to each navel

with it, running circles

closed: taut logic

taught scorn

an eye for an eye

for an eye


a bullet out

the doe, still limping

from open season



we are tossed
Michelle Phuong Ho is a poet based in New Haven, CT. Her writing has appeared in Apogee, Black Warrior Review, and wildness, among others, and has been recognized with the 2020 Frontier Poetry Industry Prize. Born to Vietnamese refugees, she received her MFA in poetry from NYU.


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