What Kept Me Going

Janet Wu

you don't say    the table and the chair    the worms in my basket   in my bucket 
   they go out to rest   and the leafless mulberry   and the stillness in my cup  
  running with the river   grassy on a hill   the muddiness of the clouded water
          the pelican storming the bay   the pellucid gulls riding the wave   
    my plate that broke   the paper clips did not float   but the dead worms do
      pure cocoa powder from Holland   fires that break the heart of our island
          wind from Antarctica    racial stigma   figments from the olive trees 
bush cockroach climbing up the pine   my arms and legs run and don't waste time
  books that shelter the holocaust   nuclear thoughts   abstraction that came through 
  the two world wars   cloths to clean the bench   coins to ring the till   helpful sleep
  feet to climb walls   fingers to open doors   bottle of sugar cane juice   my mother
my cat Puss has on his boots like white sneakers   fluffy rice cakes  his hair and face
  exactly like Kim Jong-un's   love burning through the afternoon   late room service
   bread from the hearth  croissants in the shape of the moon  escargots & sultanas
   the bees steal my minutes and seconds  the honey is somewhere not to be seen
fruit-picking   we go riding up and down the deserted streets   second-hand shopping
    pictures of angels  baby elephants  the Andes raging against the sea  the coast
      other people's fears and indecision come through their second-hand clothes  
             the mother lizard gave birth    her batch of eggs hidden under a log
        dead birds on the roads get collected in the ants' nests   our consolations
though they are second best   rocks in the quarry   maps from the sixteenth century
beads of rain   a girl hopping trains   the chickens and the martyred grains   in the rain
    the quails do fly   people die  the inchworm wiggles and hides   such as you and I
 my eyes   see through the clearer atmosphere   soaring in a kaleidoscope   such a dope
  like my cats   the stats   the state of things    the unforgettably awful things in numbers
 intersections   the suction of a freshly killed octopus' tentacle   the silence of spectacles

Janet Jiahui Wu is a Hong-Kongese-Chinese-Australian visual artist and writer of poetry and fiction. She has published in various literary magazines such as Voiceworks, Cordite Poetry Review, Mascara Literary Review, Rabbit Poetry, Plumwood Mountain Poetry, foam:e, Tipton Poetry Journal, Eunoia Review,Yes!, Gone Lawn, SCUM, Poetry & Covid, South Florida Poetry Journal, and so on. She currently lives in South Australia. 

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