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my mother & i make carcass for dinner

CAS for Database

Jeffrey Xu

Livingston, New Jersey, USA

Livingston High School


we wanted to see the beauty in fading, gaze at the twilight-

crimson of dried roadkill. call it a holy imperfection —

split soothsayer lips & cracked jade shimmer, a single

speckled eggshell swimming in last year’s

dusty pork grease — the way time drifts us back to our

old selves like a crumpled paper lantern spitting its silent

embers against our asbestos-skull sunsets. i search the cabinet’s

hollow belly for all the ways we have sinned, spooning sugar

on the tip of my tongue to make a glaze for my pronged hunger, gnawing

& bestial — like the stuttered falling of black pepper flakes, ginseng

dried & strung like starved mouths, star anise boiling in its

unmeasured whispers, i dream in syllables culled of their mother tongue. i pour

coarse salt & soy sauce as we swallow bitter seeds of language’s

exotic fruit, remembering when the butcher slit the throat of the wrong

bird, left its corpse whole, said eat it & be still: this is your inheritance,

what the country leaves you with. for years we licked the wounds

of shattered nouns, mistaking them for salvation. we reached

over porcelain moons & bled hymns of memory, of desire, doused

in the peanut oil of foreign adjectives that sizzled us

in their star-spangled veils & burned us red like a country.

mother, don’t you see the exiles this city has made? its burning

tower, its standing walls? with each turn of the blade, each crack      of the marrow, we, too, are

slowly sinking, flayed by the fangs

alien words & shorn like the feathers of tethered phoenixes

dying unnoticed under the cloak of a forgotten night.


In haunting, lush quatrains speaking of love, loss, migration, and everything in between, “my mother and i make carcass for dinner” explores deeply the daily, tender actions of reckoning with “what the country leaves you with” in a domestic, familial setting. The speaker finds themselves in a world of dusty pork grease, salt and soy sauce, and most of all, the hurt of hymns of memory.


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