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SPOKANE VALLEY ❋ Angie Sijun Lou

part i

Eastern Washington is a gas station
sober & glittering in a plane of fog.
At McDonald’s, they give you a coupon for waiting
a long time. You say it’s ok, you don’t mind, &
you look to the trucker asleep in a booth.
He has been in transit longer than you
have been waiting for a cup of coffee,
& nobody has given him a coupon.
Lately you’ve been thinking about hiccups
on the freeway, the difference between meditation
and oblivion. So far, you’re not sure
if there is one. In the rearview mirror, you apply
a tube of lipstick & lick it off clean.


part ii

you: i just found a bunch of chicken nuggets frozen on the sidewalk
him: cool. you can microwave them at my house


part iii

The sign for the the liquor store reads
You pretend to be asleep on a spare
mattress on the floor of your lover’s house.
When he leaves to brush his teeth, you look
at the journal open on his nightstand. He’s
writing a story about you, but not about you.
In this story, he can’t hook the laptop
up to the television. In this story, your name
is not your birth name. That night, you dream
of a second tongue that’s been stuck
in the back of your throat for years. You salivate
when you speak & gag on a toothbrush.
Witness an older you, cooing at a shrunken
head & chanting to it in a cradle. Its face
drips all over the carpet, a shard of
sunshine in foamy swamps.


part iv

you: can i come clean on a secret
him: yea
you: do u remember when i said the black stain on your bed was from
when i spilled the ashtray
him: yea
you: it was actually period blood. i didnt want to tell u
him: lol. i already knew


part v

After dark, you go to a stranger’s house,
which is empty when you arrive. The door
is unlocked & open; you sit on the kitchen
floor drinking warm Kool-Aid. This is
when your lover tells you that Japanther
once played a show here, 4 years ago.
They tried to play another one but
couldn’t land their plane in all the fog.
Outside, the mountains look past you
with their raccoon eyes. They are jade
dieties trapped in comas. Through the
window, over the trees, you hear kids
huddled in the backseats of minivans
practicing smoke tricks. Headlights shine
clean through them. A blue moon
in Aquarius.


part vi

him: the moon looks like a faceless pac-man tonight
you: ? pac-man is nothing but a face (9:20)
him: thats what i meant, its only a sliver


part vii

At a dinner table, someone says:
“We are perpetually waking up in a state
called Sudden Birth Out of Nowhere.”
Their father raises one caterpillar brow,
then goes to the gym to get his flirt on.
It is icy dark when you drive over the pass.
You cut through an arctic lake: old men
carve craters in the water to pull fish
through. Their religion shines in the
crooked valley. Heaven’s limp genitals
touch you wherever they like. You stop
the car to puke out the passenger side.
In the rims of your eyes, your lover
is smiling so widely, in such dim lighting,
that all you can see is two buck teeth
pinned to the sky.