MARTIAN SNATCH, by Grace Shuyi Liew

Grace Shuyi Liew is the author of the chapbooks Book of Interludes (Anomalous, 2016) and Prop (Ahsahta, 2016). Her book Careen is forthcoming with Noemi Press. She hails from Malaysia and currently lives in Louisiana. Find her at


Carefree is one form of amnesia
Even wind contains a larger system of
Consumption behind that buoyant
Facekissing quality
When I think about being
Freed of care the way sludge
Slopping the bottom of your
Coffee cup never worries
About its own heave and taste
The exertive parts of my
Previous lives back themselves
Into the hopeless corners
They come from
Back through chipped off
Tombs mysteriously broken spindles
Made of
Deadwood my spirits
Gained their crystal edges to this
Orchestra of synchronized fading
I go my face is
A repository
For other people’s regressed
Versions of carefree
If an alien Lady Justice did
Once upon a time wear pigtails
And lifted her skirt for the winds
Maybe it’s true there is
No such thing as
An uncontainable wound


I have tried to collect
all the bad jokes clotting the air
whole skies of plucked
every liberated enamel
another piece of evidence
I drove my car into the seagreen sky
Highway     flanked by lucid freshwater
It was to Saint of Sad Archives I had
so many times sworn solemnly to tell
the whole truth
      Right palm raised like a citizen
      Left fist outside of declaration
Behind the door left half ajar yet
      another white man blands his face
      and approves some good news
      mechanically I loved him too with a joy
      before the evolutionary recoil
Envelopes carrying all my imminent
comforts are shipped
to the middle of this country
where the documentation wait time
falls in between cracked
       Texan mud   Small bureaucratic
      men who take too seriously
their dull task to preserve the united states
in its midnight hour
& timeless   Just waiting for the smallest
       thing to go wrong


I have heard of extinction. I just don’t aspire to ruin. When my nails started to breed lichen, the kind that seeped into bone to signal deposition, I hired a lawyer. I called a federal officer to discuss signs of spiritual withdrawal. When asked are you of sound mind I made a soundless heave that moved God to sit with me by the sidewalk, pro bono. I saw ridges spiking out of clouds that day: balance or be toppled. Past the metal detector, before the long lines of second language speakers, a wobbling child was confused about a toy in his hand. If every held-in-hand thing is automatically a toy, why wouldn’t anyone trade their handthing with his handthing? Some types of parity are naturally determined while others are altered into lies. The white moon paid a price too for loving midnight attention. Some letters on important paper bear out a worthless value in their current arrangement. But my name called wrongly is still my name.


The corals at fourteen beneath water
I tried to touch flashes of some upright reef
Maybe dead things are not dead in a certain light
The white sky flaunted a naked sun that day
Fourteen candles enclosing a no-man’s island
My porous body couldn’t hold enough water to drown
No language, orange visibility
Fourteen with a strange man beneath water
Wish I didn’t turn away that day
Wet eel nosing up from behind
To clean out that birthday song clocked in my throat
I was fourteen when something reached through me
Beneath the water, electricity
Ignited the rope spun from all my fourteen years
The first time I lifted my feet off the ground
The first time I dove toward a seabed shimmering with fish


Some people come and some people keep staying and some birds fly
Inside me
Dither to map discarded locations of my every
Hinterfeeling. A breastsong here and there strums pleasantness to
Flit over steady mountain but I can’t come on easy pleasure. Stone of
No specific grade, granite that licks hard or sand still sedimenting its way somewhere
South of here,
A time scale ringing in my ear just like that. In our relationship of ejecting each other’s
Solstices, sickness
Right out of my breath, ritualized hot coals enter and exit and
Unbearably drip. Drip. Vanish everyday. Ember arrived in a heated afternoon
And all I could think of was the closeness of holding a sigh,
Not for fear of its breaking, only that some
Gentlenesses are utterly optional, self-
Serving, how
Above the safety of burnished touch
I just want a thorough unwinding whose centrifugal force cannot
Be located, not easily, not for
Ever though really, really I want loves want     mouth
Without the litany, airtight for you
Silent fishbubbles that cannot rise,
So sink, without asking so I fall with the
Cool stones singing every night’s
River, and wrenched and pitied I want a faraway
Documentary, really
How about make me another, another one
About the weather,
you, make me
Another one about the weather,
About what to wear,
About when ever the rain,
About how to walk outside to fall into the world.