Three Poems

by Travis Lau


What Mama Gave Me
Boys belong to their mothers. Cord cut decades ago, but they’ll always share the warm, dark swim.

Bird’s nest,
rock sugar,
an egg,
the recipe for
continuing a wish
made ab ovo by a
fortune teller on
Temple Street
because that is
where all inklings
of a child begin,
even before it
gathers into a
bundle of colic.

Like Tristram,
I arrived: riotous,
for the shock of
the world was
upon me, yet
I was not alone
for she,
once bedridden,
did command me
to her side until
I conformed
to the way of
grandpa’s fingers:
penitential ambling.
I too would take
the needles,
for what they saw
dammed in me –
push and pull, for
something has to give,
even if it is my frame.

The weight of infidelities –
of frames refusing to hold,
of a generation’s cruel
optimism enfleshed
in me, braying
against my mother’s
rosary of lopsided prayers.
Yet we share this
deviant will
that shapes our form,
that excludes us from the
dreams that Grandma’s
insomnia prevents her
from ever having.
I count the change
thrown into the casket:
all these wishes


Welcome is // the momentum of // a fallen crabapple, // a rolling decay // that marks the // years I spent // down the road, // yearning for // something just // a little sweeter. // I have learned // since to greet // what rots, for // it feeds what // I have trained // my eyes no longer // to see – // these circularities, // these ripples that // I left in // the silken skin // of my own primordial // waters that // once murmured of // what will be.// Yet I // feel now // like a brazen // interrupter, a kind // of non sequitur // in the consistent //grammar of things // here in the barest // of fields. // (Homecoming is the // rudest of processes.

Christmas Eve

The whirl of fire’s kin:
Dawn’s tracings,

her choreography
in the patterns

he once taught
me (lightened

lines like conduits)
as a soft power

never claiming
to solidity. So I

keep pace as she
commands, (liquid

steps, a goddess
light in the form

of a memory) until
I am begged by

another flame.

TRAVIS CHI WING LAU is a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Department of English. His research interests include long eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, the history of medicine, disability studies, body studies, and gender and sexuality studies. His creative writing has appeared in Westwind, Thistle, Spires, Feminine Inquiry, Wordgathering, Synaesthesia, and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology (Handtype Press, 2015).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s