Timothy Liu


You survived

the AIDS crisis
lung cancer

lived long enough

to see your plays
get produced

and gay marriage

come to your city
and country

but couldn’t refuse

this airborne
apocalyptic pollen

taking root—



His antics were gaining
traction: parading

his dick around

the locker room while
snapping his towel

at those who bothered

to look his way. Am I
the only one who

remembers this decades

after the fact, the way
he left his mark

on me as if I were a toy

dog the neighborhood
bully took pleasure in

pissing on only to get

away with it? Who
am I if not the non-native

speaker who’s paid to

clean up after him,
all of my days linked

together like a crew

of orange jumpsuits
picking up trash tossed

by those who can

afford vacation homes
and panic rooms

to retreat into when

the pandemic struts
its tighty-whitey ass

across our nation’s face—



We fled the great
city and are sheltering

in your neighborhood—

the plague baby dropped
on your doorstep—not

that you’d leave us out

in the cold? Didn’t think
so! So much none of us

can possibly cunt-

troll and I’m getting
sick of being told exactly

where I can set up

shop, spend my money
wherever I want in this

lock down unimagined

just days before with
the season’s first daffodils

pushing up through snow—

0-3TIMOTHY LIU (Liu Ti Mo) was born in 1965 in San Jose, California to immigrant parents from Mainland China. He is the author of ten books of poems, including Of Thee I Sing, selected by Publishers Weekly as a 2004 Book-of-the-Year; Say Goodnight, a 1998 PEN Open Book Margins Award; and Vox Angelica, which won the 1992 Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. He has also edited Word of Mouth: An Anthology of Gay American Poetry. His latest book is Let It Ride (Saturnalia Books, 2019). Translated into ten languages, Liu’s poems have appeared in such places as Best American Poetry, Bomb, Kenyon Review, The Nation, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, The Pushcart Prize, Virginia Quarterly Review and The Yale Review. His journals and papers are archived in the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library. He is currently a Professor of English at William Paterson University in New Jersey.

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