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Buffalo Girl

for Triệu Thị Trinh

History makes little bundles out

of the unthinkable

young boys carve

three-foot breasts

to keep your story otherworldly and

ridiculous; a crisp blade slips

from view We stand

at the Albertson’s Customer

Service and I hold my

breath as you ready a

well-worn trap

discount oversight:

grave mistake

A set of eyes

exhaust and I

almost feel for

our opposing force who does not

know the survival of ants

under glass ::

long after your death you haunted

soldiers’ dreams the Chinese

Commander that slayed you built

fallacies to try and keep you


Poor men and their

fantasies of time and blood

that pass only during the duration of war

Victory painted the

parking lot lucky-red

In every windshield I swear I saw

the glint of a slow storm

in your eyes

history books are forever

missing the details of unfathomable

loss— providing discounts

on over-stocked goods You are my

mother —minor warrior— who has

never needed saving who has

never needed memory to make

a home (a good home) alone

in the woods


Kleptomania V: To Know and Laugh at the New Country

Hands spending, hands

undid and undoing a clock

with no hands that thumb

a way through hangers,

that switch the tags, that

strangers pockets, that reject

the terms of protection.

We cannot know what

you cannot hold and here,

for you: a perfect

peach in the palm of my

hand. Let it disappear

you. Have it hunger

across still-bent

bodies in

repose: one muddy

river to another.

And look: a wasp, the

taste of Big Macs and

nuclear-red Twizzlers—

our mouths savoring air.

Four firm wheels and

traffic lights, drive-thrus

and dirty dancing.

I said look:

it was worth it

for a time.


Poem in Which I Narrowly Escape My Birth

Do you ever feel like flesh? I do.

Bleached poem about the

broken jade bracelet my

mom hid in the front of

her underpants on a

helicopter for which

she bartered a fairy

tale. USA #1 on the skip

track, saying here we go ‘round

the mulberry bush babe stick

it around your fat, white

wrists until it cracks. Bright-

light-waisted fingers, the

same size, but it’s all different

now, she sd, it’s all gone.

Smoothed down panic

with a memory

that was never there to

begin with: some clean

country of arrivals and plenitude,

some fluent daughter’s palm

to place seedlings and


And the story about the dead-

faced sergeant doesn’t need a

translation. Hell, it doesn’t

even need words. Mama:

know a traveling girl with

a basket never keeps the

bread or the wine. She

loses talons for a time and

forgets the image of her

grandmother’s face.

Keep it on your person,

keep it forever under

gauze, keep it safe in the

brick of wet banana leaf-

loss, find me, gone too,

for you.

Somewhere between

the dead sergeant’s deed

and the sea.


JESSICA Q. STARK is a poet and educator living in Jacksonville, Florida. Her first full-length poetry collection, Savage Pageant, was published by Birds, LLC in March 2020 and was named one of the "Best Poetry Books of 2020" in the Boston Globe and in Hyperallergic. She is the author of four poetry chapbooks, including most recently INNANET (The Offending Adam, 2021). Her poems have appeared in Pleiades, Poetry Daily, Carolina Quarterly, Poetry Society of America, wildness, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Hobart Pulp, Glass Poetry Journal, and others. She is an Assistant Poetry Editor for AGNI and the Comics Editor for Honey Literary. She teaches writing at the University of North Florida.


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