Unpublished Diaries of The Philae

four billion miles later I thirst

for a pinch                  a hurt                                a cough

pin drop on floorboards                                   anything

to break this flameless lickless

                    nothing                                 streak across


dust water ice will do nicely

for a ten-year crave

brought nothing               but tampons

and passports for a comet chase

a tensile density they told me

from the place calculators                                 chandeliers

cut in multiplications


I should have stayed where

up             down were severed siblings

where silence lived in parenthesis

but no one would let me laugh

the way I do here                tongue out                loose bones

flattened to match the dark-glazed scenery


how the cartilage of things glow here

boundaries can be traced              filled

                    with all the geometry I can remember

except for                 the shape of arrows                                and exit

yes dust water ice feels good

                                       between the toes

Airplane Song

                                                                                                                             For M


The crest of the wing is sunlight condensed

to white. I can count the nails bent
into metal cutouts from geometry class,

black rust lines like penciled graphs.

It’s a wonder it all holds together.


I try not to watch the minutes change
but want to catch them in the act: silent tick

of electric lines. Once, after looking away,
I feared they had morphed back.


There must be an ocean below
but the clouds are merciless today.
There must be islands too: brief ones,

untouched ones, because who would choose

to be reminded of their smallness
by such a constant blue?


Something aches in my collarbone.

Can’t sleep. My eyelids are made of you

and of the way you find the shape of me

in the dark. No compass would set
in our uncharted bed.


The white wing won’t show a flicker
of speed. If it weren’t for the passing minutes

I would have thought we were pinned
to one longitude: the aluminum moth.


I’m having trouble retracing your mouth
from the last. If only vivid were an undying word.



Loosening and tightening as the city sinks beneath me.
My fingers no longer fingers: only the most necessary of pins to preserve
this moth under museum glass. I pin myself, detach and pin again. Letting go should be as simple as blinking, but I have forgotten all gestures of the eyelid.
My body, tight like a pebble, is telling me to hold on.



Blind Underline



lipstick like a cigarette click

flameless                  only the rise of red

                    a stringless wick

                    slabs of gloss

                    slanted stage



if I push against your open

                    with my open

mouth so used to concrete lockwood                             salt

used to threads suspending bridges
and fine steel between                                                   a red balloon

                                                  a small hand

would I undermine

your necessary fragility



love poems are latex gloves                            giving

                    the delusion of owned skin

they toothpick                               through hands

                    looking for remnants of a song

                              even a hum would detach

                              from the lines of your palm
they hide under nails                                           masquerading

as subway scum                            and the moment

your measured years slip

                    you’ve chewed a dirty nail



if a walrus finds it hard to breathe

when a piano and a violin conspire

to squeeze its heart to raspberry jam

what are elephants to do

                    with their own ears
                    that could swallow a human                                                             or two



a sip of water could erase this

                    or a wipe of sleeve

red is a die-young kinda color
                    waiting for a rollercoaster crash

stop-motion cartoon that is my                           twisting

                    snapping shut

                              the licked envelope

                              the lipstick letter


Yun Wei received an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College and studied international relations at Georgetown University. Her writing awards include the 2014 Geneva Literary Prizes (for Fiction and Poetry), the Himan Brown Poetry Fellowship and the Ray Bradbury Short Story Award. Her work has appeared in generous journals like The Brooklyn Review and [Five] Quarterly. After hopscotching through China, Montreal and New York, she now works in international development in Geneva, where she subsists on a daily diet of cheese, chocolate and mulled wine.



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Cover image: Chrystal Berche