: my grandfather’s picture is gon-gon’s father… I never saw pwo-pwo’s father
picture… pwo-pwo probably didn’t have it since her father died when she was 6
years old… yes gong-gong

: next two pictures taken with my good friends… both were gone… one died of
cancer more than 10 years ago… the other died of a car accident on her way to
celebrate her daughter’s birthday more than 30 years ago… she died with her
daughter and baby inside her body… she had a PhD from Harvard…

look at my waist!… : ooo lala…

: also two pictures that were taken at Kinmen island (few miles across from Taiwan
strait sea) military summer camp… there we had to practice how to shoot…

: today I was helping A-mai cleaning two old suitcases that I originally thought those
are A-mai’s suitcases, it turned out it was pwo-pwo’s with old pictures inside…
including her wedding pictures hanging on the wall of our old house… sharing some
pictures with you…

: a friendly reminder: dress properly later… : yup… got it…

: he happy to celebrate pwo-pwo’s life with us… : great! they are wearing mourning
apparel… : why aren’t they including A-mai in this… : Asian tradition stuff… : no
idea what they said… clearly…

: are they singing in Chinese or Tibetan… : what is going on…

: not sure who are these people holding a baby in the second half of the video… :
they are doing oh-mee-to-foo… : huh… : ah-mee-to-fooooo… : oh…

: oh you mean fat cousin… : his wife… : ohhhh… that’s fat cousin? man he looks so
strange now… ok so fat cousin had a baby too…

: need someone to translate… the Chinese in the video…

: where are you? can’t see you… : turned my video off… I’m laying down my back

: they are praying… I can’t hear clearly therefore don’t know if they sing in

: they cut us out lol…

: that’s where we ate! omg…

: “Kurt Cobain’s MTV unplugged guitar sells for record 6M”…


Part I.

This is coming a bit late. I’ve owed Action Books a blog piece for several months
now. This is supposed to be an afterword, but so much has happened since YOU &
ME FOREVER came out in April…

I began my introduction to the meeting by saying one thing, or a few things, or a lot
of things, and then at some point the words “writing the same poem over and over
again,” and then another thing, or a few other things, or a lot of other things.

The conversation ended over a discussion on opacity and its relation to the present

After the meeting, I would thank the group’s email chain and add:

…one more thing… because I’m still thinking about that conversation at the

was just thinking how the “opaque” poets whose work I am most
interested in right now are actually responding to and acknowledging, I
believe, levels of literacy/the ESL reader and they do so by working with
“broken language” which in a way can have the effect of making the
language more opaque, but it’s through honoring the fact that readers will
be coming from different levels of power… also sometimes when I show a
poem to my mom and she’s like “wow I don’t get it” and I’m like I got that
line from something you said once! so you wrote this poem!… and then
after some back and forth she does kind of of get it.

Around this time, I started translating my grandmother’s eulogy. I’d attended the
funeral, which took place in Taiwan, over Zoom.

Around the same time, I began Project ANIMACY. All verbs. As much as possible,
only verbs. All present participle. Or gerund. As much as possible, only present
participle. Or gerund. I was never good at grammar. And I can’t make a decision
about the aesthetics of a moral but in practicing two approaches it happens. In a
conversation regarding Robin Wall Kimmerer, we talk about the author mentioning
the verb heaviness of the Potawatomi language, as opposed to the noun-basedness of

At the next meeting, we’re talking about humor and the present moment, computer
typing vs typewriters vs handwriting. Can’t stop going back to Glissant.

: tried for the second time Intro to Improv at Groundlings… everybody laughed at
me… Asian teacher hurray told me I would be failing again… I didn’t once do an
Asian accent… and she was disappointed with me… : thoroughly unimpressed… :
how did I not do an Asian accent even once? she had paid her dues with her whole
menagerie of Asian accents. : she had a whole chest of costumes. : she had perfected
her own yellow face. : how dare I… : Anna May Wong would be so disappointed… :
I’m sorry but fuck Anna May Wong… not the person because respect to the person
but fuck the idea… not the heroics of the idea because respect to the heroics of the
idea but fuck the idea that this is… honoring isn’t obligatory… heroics is such
leverage… I’m sick and I’m so sick of our limited choices for heroes… there’s
literally one… : two… : three…

: we were sitting in the car… under the palm trees… near Melrose… so yeah I guess
I’m a person of color…

: def ranking that up there as one of the weirdest art forms… what the hell was I
doing… it wasn’t just fun though… I was lost but it wasn’t just fun for me… I was
trying to do something… : it thickened me out… : I dove into my post-steroidal
healthy life… spent time with my sister… overstayed my welcome with my sister…
wrote to my sister’s ex and said bad things at my sister’s… told my sister’s ex he had
fucked with the wrong gal and bet he got diarrhea when he ate out the new gal… bad
bad… literally something a white bro once said to my white boyfriend in high school
and which I had to hold onto for years and say to someone else I can’t believe I had
to do that I mean I can but how gross… : a month later I stayed out late with my LA
friends, the director and the actor, got super high, came back overheated, got more
high on the balcony… next day noticed Cocoa’s eye falling out… bad bad… : got an
air mattress, signed a lease, Cocoa got fleas, her little old body eaten alive by fleas
and all because I didn’t have the smarts to live somewhere where the yard wasn’t
utterly infested where the landlord utterly did not have the means to give a better
fuck… : drove home drugged out on eight lane superhighway, what a white
privileged bro I was, paid my neighbors in cash, Cocoa, Cocoa where are you baby…
wasn’t cut out for the traffic… fleas and eyeballs falling out and all there was no time
or smarts or money left… couldn’t say goodbye to my LA friends properly… there
was a lot of resentment for a while…

: shared my most Asian poems yet yesterday… I don’t know what I was expecting…
didn’t expect to share so personally… I guess that was the next step… : she had
vertigo… or something else undiagnosed… vis-a-vis diagnosed… we always just
called it vertigo… not sure if this was how I translated it to myself or just… not sure
if we ever even used the word vertigo… I’m using the word vertigo now… : so she
had vertigo… : she went on a moving vehicle only twice in her entire brave life…
once as a refugee (helicopter)… once as a mother (train)… : I watched a movie once
about World War II and I imagined the exact same plot but with my grandmother and
people who looked like me and my grandmother…

: does an independent woman travel around the world gagging from vehicle to
vehicle? : does an independent woman stay in one place on an island nation after the
age of 25 until she dies?

: a certain amount of privilege to be able to go back to my family’s place of origin
yes… for years I resented her for not trying… to come to us… to come toward me…
to come to see us here… : then she could shack up here and just stay with us I
said… : but she was convinced she would die… : if she ever got on a Boeing 767… :
she had a friend she played Mah Jong with who got on a Boeing 767 didn’t even have
vertigo and midair died…

: my LA friends I have to call them… my Montana friend whom I left LA with I have
to call her…

Part II.

Caught up with a friend who contributed the cover art for YOU & ME FOREVER.

Project ANIMACY is about not using English, by using English, because we have a
decision to make. The eulogy translation project is about using English, because we
have no other choice but to use English. Both are important to the practice.

Didn’t expect to get so personal. Chinese nationalism vs US nationalism. One word
policy. Stories about the family. The risk is great.

They told me about their cockroaches project.

Ended on my angry polemic anti-ableist manifesto where the we vs them matters.

: hey guys a couple of things I know we’re leaving soon but until we do… I think we
shouldn’t share bathroom hand towels… and… we should wash all the communal
kitchen towels several times a week… I know… I know this will require more water
& heat & utilities are expensive… but… like please… these are crazy times…

: so it turns out I do have a hierarchy of value… and I’m somewhere at the top… :

: hey guys a couple of things I know we’re leaving soon but until we do… I think we
should all chip in for some communal sanitizer… to put up at the front… and also
please be mindful and like wear masks in the communal spaces, kitchen, living room,
etc… and if everyone can throw me some money, venmo me whatever, I can order…
but we wanna do this ASAP… we’re leaving soon anyway…

: ugh she’s white girl spreading… slightly less bad than white man spreading but
spreading nonetheless… : I thought we agreed we’d wear masks inside on the 1st

my bedroom literally smells like barbecue sauce and mustard and Russian dressing
because I literally don’t want to go out there or be out there with my mask on
constantly… hate eating saucy food in bed… haven’t done this in years even during
my sickest bouts… never forget battle with the ants 2015-2018… : stalemate. :
truce. : no winners.

: and there she is white girl spreading… sure I can forgive her… at least she’s
speaking in another language… : not English… : kind of soothing… : white noise… :
I need to call my parents…

switching back to chapstick… was using Aquaphore ointment for a while… prefer
Aquaphore but don’t want to clean my hands every time I need to moisturize my
lips… which is often…

staying in my bedroom now pretty much 24/7 except to cook or use bathroom…
eating in bed the other day… finally watched Fist of Fury… : wow really playing up
the Japanese stereotypes… no wonder this became a cult classic in American cities…
Pearl Harbor etc etc … forgot to check whether the Japanese characters were played
by Japanese actors… ok just checked… yup… the Japanese interpreter and arguably
most offensive portrayal of a Japanese character in the movie is played by Paul Wei
Ping-Ao, Hong-Kong-based Chinese actor… : according to Wikipedia he dubbed his
own voice… the assumption is he dubbed it in English… it’s not stated explicitly but
it’s the assumption… : yup duh…

: on the afternoon of 9/11 my neighbor and I walked from the school bus back
towards our driveways… : I think it was the Japanese she said… white girl with
freckles… : a few months prior we’d stopped hanging out every other day… I had
taught her the word motherfucker which my brother had taught me… and learned her

and her brothers didn’t bathe more than once every few days and had to be held down
and thrown in… : where did he learn it… not from my parents… probably from the
movies or from neighborhood bullies…

debating now whether to wash towels more often or just get rid of all communal
towels… : ok these are yours… so… yes you need to put them away… : ok so now
it’s every man for himself I see… : it’s always been every man…

: this doesn’t make any sense to me… if it’s transmittable through surfaces then it’s
transmittable through food… what you’re saying is if someone coughs on some of
your cabbage and then you eat the cabbage immediately you’re not going to get sick?
if someone touches the toaster oven and then you touch the same spot on the toaster
oven and then you pick up your toast and eat with those same hands that you used to
touch the toaster oven you’re not going to get sick? is this what you’re saying?

: hey what do you love most about my pussy? : it’s tight… : ew. : just kidding… it’s
hairy. : really? : yeah I like thinking about touching the hair on your pussy. : oh… :
putting my mouth on it… : ok well get to work!…

but I’ve been stuck in clitoral phase for a decade… yes no doubt I’ve achieved
orgasm through penetration but my preferred route of administration remains
clitoral… so I have yet still to mature into the final phase of sexual maturity… :
according to Freud…

: ok I’m going to take care of this now ok… : I’m going to take care of this now and
put her things away just so it’ll be a rude awakening when the big boss comes back…
and, again, I actually think it’s good for me… : for us… : at least I’m up for the
challenge… : I think it’s good when we test our limits… : are you?… : do you?…

: 10” or 15”… 15”? to be safe? comes with a ramp… : ok 15” one way… : furniture
dolly? utility dolly? appliance dolly? furniture pads? : ugh I don’t know… half a
dozen pads, 1 furniture dolly, 1 utility?… : no thanks I do not need storage. : for your
15” truck we estimate it will take 2 helpers 2 hours to load everything onto truck… :
no thanks I do not need helpers. : well we kind of do but no thanks… : total due
today: 0.00. : all fields are required unless indicated. : primary driver international
license alternate phone number additional drivers…

: ok one reservation done… onto the next!

: I can’t believe I drove that big ass truck by myself back to the city last summer. :
through a tunnel… : Johnnie Walker COVID meme. : glad Johnnie Walker is making
this moment work for them…

: I love the layers of seeing that logoed white van in dialogue with the more corporate
logoed white truck… you see the aspirational logo… you see the bootstraps…

Part III.

I am late to respond to several texts. I have it on my to-do list.

Waiting to hear back about the Teaching Fellow position. Waiting to hear back,
hopefully with good news, before I cite ADA and my need to have this be a remote
option. No vaccine, no in-person, sorry.

In the Google doc for our discussion group on Denise Ferreira da Silva, I added:

so I’m thinking about mapping the fractal onto a 2D space, which is
“impossible,” according to the dominant modes of post-enlightenment
knowledge systems. But a hypothetical. If the 2D space stands in for white +
european narrative/linear temporality/colonial time/individualism, and if the
fractal is that enmeshment with this history, Dana’s arm in the wall, this
entanglement with these systems of knowledge and the results that have
passed into descendants of oppressors and descendants of the oppressed, then
what I’m hearing is a pointing to thinking about sentience (unknown
language, forgotten language, erased language, Indigenous language, invisible
ecologies, our very surroundings + environment) that these dominant systems
of knowledge have trained us to overlook… also thinking about how we’re
simultaneously descendants of oppressors and descendants of the oppressed,
so there’s that duality, and then there’s a DOUBLE violence duality (so a
quadrupality of violence!), that we are also present day oppressors and
oppressed, right?… so is it that what we “inherit” of violence make us
capable of violence in the present day (able to obliterate another’s selfhood)
and, at the same time, is it that what we “inherit” of endurance makes us
capable of “controlling” the obliteration, or maybe wielding that obliteration
in a way that clears debris and allows for regeneration that we “owe but do
not own”… so contributing to regeneration without claiming ownership (I
know we were talking about water, but now I’m thinking of fire… and
Serpent rain…) ok need to clean this up into a more coherent question… but
just some thoughts.

: here is a picture of Auntie Jane at hairdresser. : I can recognize her smile even
without seeing her smile…

: Auntie Jane was the baby my grandmother had to be brave for and stomach several
hours of projectile vomiting in order to make it to the capital hospital… : sick
mosquito bite.

: I have a particular relationship with mosquitos and cockroaches… both of which
were in ample supply at pwo-pwo’s… : one year the roach population got really
bad… : pwo-pwo’s eyesight was deteriorating and A-ya always had her headphones
on and was just going through the motions of cleaning… didn’t really clean… : came
out one night for a glass of water and caught a whole family of roaches off guard… it
was like a cartoon… : I could see the expression on their faces like… : fuuckkk…
mama and babies scurried out of sight fast little fuckers…

: didn’t want to hurt pwo-pwo’s feelings make her feel unclean… : she felt bad for
me… having come all this way to see her and feeling a need to keep my bags off the
ground… following week in Shanghai came back from dinner with dad and there was
a huge roach on the ground… right there next to my suitcase… : ew ew ew… : dad
killed it. : dad you have roaches here? on the thirteenth floor? : no… that’s the first
one I’ve ever seen. : so I knew I had brought it with me over from Taiwan. : yikes… :
ew. : sorry… : gross.

Katya sent me picture of the accidentally oven-roasted roach… : wow… that thing
looks like it can fly… never seen a flying roach before… : are there roaches that can

: Auntie Jane before and after photo… hair color game strong… : I remember taking
a bath with Auntie Jane at pwo-pwo’s place in the old military village in the 90s… :
one long hair dangling from Auntie Jane’s chin… : wow… : ew ew… : wow… :
feminine warrior…

: where she’s from in the tropics… you have to be exquisitely clean… otherwise they
will utterly overrun you… you can’t just leave a plate of food out overnight… : who
are you… : are you fucking crazy…

: Auntie Jane made a donation for me on my sixteenth birthday to the local children’s
hospital for rare diseases… mom said… mom said she is very happy with this… :
brings my daughter good karma…

: Auntie Jane said she will be donating all of her fortune to Nepalese sex slave
whores… my mother expressed such disdain for this… : I have two sex slaves! why
don’t you donate your fortune to your two sex slave whore nieces instead!… Auntie
Jane laughed my mom out of there… : Asian tradition shit…

Part IV.

The more I work on the verb project, the more I work on the eulogy translation
project, the more they become the same project. So it is the same poem. They could
not be more different. They are the same poem.







Valerie Hsiung is a poet, writer, performer, and the author of four full-length poetry and hybrid writing collections–YOU & ME FOREVER (Action Books, 2020), outside voices, please (CSU, 2021), hummingbird et partygirl (Essay Press, 2022), and e f g (Action, 2016). Her work can be found in places such as The NationThe BelieverNew Delta ReviewBlack Sun LitGhost ProposalChicago Review, and beyond. She has performed her little poetry theater at Treefort Music Festival, DC Arts Center, Common Area Maintenance, The Poetry Project, Casa Libre en la Solana, Poetic Research Bureau, Shapeshifter Lab, and The Silent Barn. Born in the Year of the Earth Snake and raised by Chinese-Taiwanese immigrants in Cincinnati, Ohio, she now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at http://valeriehsiung.com