Two poems by Timothy Liu

Timothy Liu

Timothy Liu

Timothy Liu is the author of eight books of poems, most recently Polytheogamy and Bending the Mind Around the Dream's Blown Fuse. His poems have been translated into ten languages, and his papers and journals are archived in the Berg collection at the New York Public Library. He lives in Manhattan.

Bon Vivant

the world all atilt like a Venetian campanile

where tourists by the busload find themselves

mired once again in a mound of shoofly pie

much hottie-of-the-month parlance

mastered through and through

as microbes wreak havoc at an Egyptian B&B

unfit for primo vino cognoscenti

much glory and misfire

much fiery inwardness in a time of war

all of us needing something

a little R&R

reinforzando molto
down to the last detail




If God Be a White Man

then this must be
Bamboula-wild and unaccountable
against the eardrum's fluent
doggerel where trance-like voodoo
induced ecstatic states
supplicating to Dambella or Da-
serpent deities—our clothes torn off
pell-mell in the hot dense dark
with saints and angels
employing tones for which there are
no written notes—Gullah
song propelled by minstrel banjo riffs,
hip shakes, shimmies, shoulder
rolls in mazooka time
hurling boozed-up slurs in torrential
two-four ragtime onus
all the way from piano to voice-
the olio's jazzy centerpiece
in Main Street's usual honkytonks
full of low-life clientele
pioneering royalties for left-hand
oompahs intensified, sifted
into a broken lexicon
heard in gutbucket cabarets suffused
with quarter tones
and Irish cadences more free-
flowing than coon-shouting whites
in black face booking
studio time where ringside brass-band
ballyhoo prototyped instrumental
growls and smears
into a veritable imitatrices de la voix-