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the flies - poetry by Jackie Liu

the flies

dad got concerned that mom hadn’t

cashed the child support checks

for three months

you should go out more, he says

it’s not healthy, he says

i hate him, she says.

the putrid cloying stench of an apple melting away

forts constructed of empty tupperwares

rising higher with the setting sun

the grating cacophony of one, two, forty-seven houseflies

the soundtrack of degeneration

it’s too much

you choose to look away.

her words are the searing aftertaste

of acid creeping up your throat

nostrils ablaze, eyes awash

you swallow that shit back down.

the buzzing echos across empty halls, empty hearts

into hopes and dreams

menacing black bodies swarming into a torrent of torment

paranoia suffocates each thought breath whisper

they’re fucking everywhere.

i’ll get over it, she says

i’m healing, she says

i don’t need help, she says

why don’t you help me? she says.

you get over yourself and

clean the kitchen until midnight

instead of doing homework

as if pristine countertops guarantee


you are so proud

she says thank you.

but the flies are still buzzing


About Jackie Liu:

“i turn my auto-capitalization off so i don’t have to decide what’s more important.

i cut my grapefruits into lopsided halves on purpose so i have something to look forward to.

even though i’ve all but forgotten the language, i still keep the chinese keyboard on my phone in case i need it one day.

at the grocery store i have trouble deciding between brands of pasta because i bask in the what if.

i take comfort in my own mortality and impermanence. less pressure that way.”

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