All My Multitudes Will Eat You Alive

A poetry debut by Catherine Ji

All My Multitudes Will Eat You Alive

Editors’ Note: The Commuter is moving to Wednesdays! Diverting flash fiction, poetry, and graphic narratives will now be your mid-week pick-me-up. Recommended Reading is moving to Mondays; other than that, everything else will remain the same.

we dream of something, here

hide my kids. Lady, don't eat me alive. 
i reek, and i live with myself. all 
company gym-clothes, sweat stains, 
the time it takes to scarf an orange
peel— no flesh. hairball, creativity-free zone. 

Who I Am. i am wet like the dead sea. 
never read Crying in H Mart and never will. Where 
I Am From. nowhere, at least, nowhere you'd 
vacation. not even worth the to-recycle-
or-not-to-recycle dilemma. as free 

as whatever you pay me. You see?
if i stuffed myself into a time machine, 
i would return here. my belly bulges like a private 
jet cockpit. i suffer from the worst jellybeans of anxiety. 
(vomit, earthworm, grass, toothpaste)

i am no fun to squish.
no lanternfly wings, only pantsuits
and 0 crunchy sound effects. 
your soles would grow me-sized holes,
socks slick with salty, greasy tears.


curse of myself

did you know     i know?     had dinner     with foreign 
heads tonight     picked leaves from their teeth     spilled
century     porridge into our laps     played along 
     yanked ghost hair— your hair     i knotted strands
about neck     until i calloused     let my ancestors     rob 
your ancestors’ shrine     commit
grave     spiritual sin     relearn mother tongue
to curse in mother tongue     beat you senseless
with heirloom     my fortune cookie said 	    
               best adventures  
          the ones you don’t seek                      i gift 
a grandfather clock     to you     to the writer of this fortune
to every consumer     of panda express     to me              
to couples feeding each other     on depraved lawns
     to birds     that won’t shut up—     we all 
look the same     anyway 

in this life     i am many lives
chess grandmaster     mahjong mistress who pushes 
walls     until dawn     lucky snow among     infinite
lucky  snows
       dumbly fractaled     i am sweet     annie i am 
evil kate                    i am army of square-faced
warlords coming          to consume          your tap-access		                          
                         your pipes     your concert tickets    
your charcuterie board          your english
your wife          your takeout          my multitudes 
will blizzard          ruin your crop          make you so bald
your lungs become          bald your children     become bald 

More Like This

Ling Ma on the Swampy Logic of Dreams

In "Bliss Montage," storytelling blurs the line between nightmare and pleasure

Sep 15 - Alyssa Songsiridej

Real Inclusion Means Centering Voices, Not Just Bodies—Especially for Queer Chinese Americans

Our lives are often important tools for the plot, but agency is nowhere to be found

Nov 30 - Jade Song

Can Two Chinese American Orphans Find Home in the Wild West?

C Pam Zhang, author of "How Much of These Hills Is Gold," on how immigrant stories have the right to stand as large as Greek myth

Apr 7 - Alexandra Chang
Thank You!