i want to wear a qípáo too


we gotta keep our jasm
the baghdadi jew building china deco under
a handsome shanghai moon peace
hotel a once trumpeter plays gourdy
maracas hand-painted in tarapoto his
white tuxedo smoking jacket pressed
the audience, an American girl an Italian
a faraway date, candlelit characters she traces accented
wall eye knee on the palm of his open olive hand—this jazz

born naked in new orleans or it was never
born at all—her grandma’s grandma is from Naples—
it is just embouchure a blowing by
congo river basin slave passenger ships django,
hugh hefner dressing in the history of turkish tobacco
it’s all storyville and some people will know the story and
some people never will like manchus giving up their wind
chime language

you’ve got a whole lot of world in your swirling thumb
prom dress tailor, round world those plum knees
swish swish swooshing across the floor
pins in the mouth like deng xiaoping chewing straw
in western drag cowboy hat
endearing us
misleading us?
culture-repairers don’t want to read just dead white men or
wear them—so make this qípáo’s slit awful high!
silk lipping these fat white thighs, dimpled
at the high hanging fruit ears like
what is buddhist prayer?
why don’t you hire us?

we aren’t kids who need
plastic partition plates dividing like a peace
our peas potatoes pasta
i acknowledge
the historian’s prismed hand
the white cop’s trigger hand
the hurt
anger is foreplay
play on—the horn was once
only animal too—ram, elephant
—closed fist
hear this improvisation?
give me any open palm and i will
trace three characters dui bu qi
i am sorry—
on your generous face

Artwork by Cui Xiuwen “Angel No.5.”