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Arkady Martine’s Teixcalaan Duology Talks Back to Empire

In Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire (2019), Mahit, a young ambassador from an insignificant space station, arrives at the city of Teixcalaan, the very centre of a rapacious space empire. She must carefully navigate the political minefield she inherited from a capricious predecessor who not only died under mysterious circumstances in a foreign land, but in doing sodeprived Mahit of access to his precious…

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Jiaozi

We never bought a food processor so I grind pork with a knife, criss cross muscle fibers, get as close as I can to the cutting board, knuckles battering bamboo. Ba prefers the rubber resistance of chew but I prefer the softness you can fold inward, dissolve under teeth. Like nothing, according to Ba. A dollop of miso, a sprinkling of bonito flakes, a glug…

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Wenzhou

We both lived on the fourteenth floor, across from one another, Building C. After a number of test runs (from what the video blindly reports) she ascends fourteen more, chair in hand. Peeling back the façade, I imagine her in a run-down box, fluorescent lights blinking mindlessly, sharing the command of a pushed button, 二十八. But these stories are far from me, nearly twenty-five years…

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Three Poems

Going Out of Business Here, at the end of all things, or at least the end of the mall, where in another lifetime my aunt wore heels and bright suits every day, took me to her lady at the JCPenney salon to get my hair permed. Here where the perfume counters spritzed and glowed, where I had my colors done at the makeup display and…

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This Is Not a Sonnet for Your Silence

Force a flower from a branch like a dead god come back. The king is about to announce there are no cracks. But a hundred bucks says that thirst-trap snapping Jolene will one hundo percent be long gone, asap. To prevent dreams of the dead, touch the forehead of the corpse laid out in the living room. Carry a pitcher of water through a doorway,…

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