/c choi

from My Name Is Wolf


when you were a child
they taught you about the winter
pointing at the dog hanging
frozen from your balcony.
now it is night in some year much later

and you have been standing / too long in the snow
that silences your life for once

but even in the deepest hours
buried in the cold
death remains visible
in front of you

sometimes it is a fire burning
sometimes it is just the memory of heat
and sometimes it is the form
of your mother tilting uncontrollably
to one side as she reaches for you.




you map my body
until i remember

that it was always
this journey to death

you pave the roads
until i remember

to look out the window
at the sky that may be god

you trace my skin
until i remember

that i was always
meant to call the final place home

you make me remember
i was meant to dance

and hang on to death
like my beloved

you make me remember my body
then help me forget




that morning Mother was afraid
afraid of God and i held her hand
she asked me to wipe the tears from her face
as Father walked out of the room
to look for air

she does not remind me of death
the way he has all my life.
and we get to this place
where i am watching her
wondering if this is betrayal

as a child
she named me Bear
she told me
that one day
i would bash my head
into the wall
just to make it fall
like a Bear
you are Bear

we are born
and taught to erase
their names
today i wanted to
call her by it
but couldn’t remember
(i could but i was
afraid that the sound
of her name escaping
my lips would make
me forget my place
in the world)

she cried
all there was
was her right hand
i didn’t tell her to stop
didn’t say things will be ok
faith was passed down to me

it didn’t take




when did you learn
to hold a body in transit
from joy to a splintered curl
of a scream born in
the silent heart of a sundown?

were you only trying
to transfer the weight
of their bricks of bones
until you could feel
less translucent?

what you hear here
as your skin burns its last
fires is the sound of your life
circling back in ways
your parents didn’t have a language to explain—

all those highlighted words
in the king james bible they gave you
on your 18th birthday and told
you to mark up in different color
for each time you read through the
whole of it

it wasn’t god or teaching
or the path to forgiveness.

they were just desperate
to tell you
that you matter
in this world.


Chiwan Choi is the author of 3 collections of poetry, The Flood (Tía Chucha Press, 2010), Abductions (Writ Large Press, 2012), and The Yellow House (CCM, 2017). He wrote, presented, and destroyed the novel Ghostmaker throughout the course of 2015. Chiwan is a partner at Writ Large Press, a Los Angeles based indie publisher, focused on using literary arts to resist, disrupt, and transgress.