Eric Tran is a queer Vietnamese writer and a resident physician in psychiatry in Asheville, NC, where he is also an associate editor at Orison Books. His debut book of poems, The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer, won the Autumn House Press Emerging Writer's contest. He is also the author of the chapbooks Revisions and Affairs with Men in Suits. His work has been featured in Poetry Daily and Best of the Net and appears or is forthcoming in Pleiades, Iowa Review, 32 Poems, and elsewhere.
Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)
Because lately all joints seem rustle twist; rising from reclining hospital beds, from cabs and laps, some human part spills off the edges. On the worst days, the body anagrams spleen and sulcus, shine and surface. On the worst days, the body props and leans in those final selfies. Those days, the world swarms with hands—clumsy, numbed grasping for blood and breath and breast. And really no God-blessed matter can be touched and remain. No fire, no burnished doorknob. No senile woman whose head I hold still for central line placement. Not her heart’s pace when we move too slow. Not her ribs snapped clean in CPR. Not your hand or mine, enclosed as the cover of a book. But if my body was dust, was subway stubs and footprints and we piled it up, would we call it healed? New or novel? I’m asking you to take your palms and push—tonight, make me full again.
Alternatives to Saying It
Sounds like bay door yawning open, bottle cap popped with iron rail. Sorry, sounds not like cancer. Nothing like sorry. Like hard-packed rubber, like bounce off plywood base. Knurled steel spinning—oh whistle and catch, gasp and glottal stop. Catgut kissed felted air, fat smoked across coal. River dive: crack like virgin femur, like unleavened bread. Mower blade spinning rocks, mouthful of fork and china. OK so velvet brushed napped and flat, but too no Velcro pulling free, no hooks from lines of eye. Three phone rings and answer or shrill to voicemail. Streetlight flicker: off and on, off and on, off and