Four Poems

by Wen Zhuang

published October 5, 2018


I was 12 by the river

When I was 12, my uncle took me

To the river, so we could

Skip rocks. He showed me

What rocks were easy

To carry and to throw

Across. Come here, he said

And look at the size and

Feel the surface, do you feel

How soft?


He said, Hey, sit down,

Reach out your palm, I will

Show you the force

You will need to exert

And how quickly you will

Then let go



Rage and Return

I am angry often, not by

Fault of my own. My mom

Taught me to be. Said

Anger would help me.

Anger would be—

Near. When she could not be.


I am angry often, and wish

Sometimes I could be gentle,

Paw, stroke, nestle, instead



I am angry often

And wish I would not

Bark, and push.


I am angry often, how, I ask

You, do you want me to be?

I am angry often, not by

Fault of my dad. Or his,

But because I was




Tomb of the Wrestlers

Magritte, before painting The

Tomb of the Wrestlers,

Was challenged to paint white

On white—a white rose in a

White room. Instead it bled, and left

A great big shadow and, no

Room to look out the window.


Like the rose, fighters—they are,

Fighters, something grandiose


And when sensitive

To something, one makes it

Fill room. And when one fills

A room, care must be taken that it is

A room, and not a tomb.


Where do wrestlers perish?

Inside this room, or the

Stamen, choked by the shut

Window, or the bud



All my limbs

You don’t begin with Dear,

You address it to me, as She,

She was a good girl, I cared

About her so I stayed


You write about our wrangle

That time we, in an embrace

Rolled across the grass. Livid, but

Jubilant, and aching—our knees sore

The next day