Poetry by Grace Q. Song

Art by Paz Mallea / @pinklegspegway


People are so ordinary and painful.

One time Kenny said, I’m sorry, what can I do for you,
and I almost began crying in the middle of class.

I think of Investment Banking Angela, stuck
downtown on the 33rd floor. Managing demands,

all things great and important, until four
in the morning. Nothing but a single car,

parked like a tiny angel on the empty street.
All my friends want to score the job or write poems

good as mangos. No one knows how to invest in joy,
how to grow a minty leaf of sunshine. Our shoes don’t fit.

The shower’s getting cold. Walking home
on winter nights, I feel the wind tearing me clean

with time and sound and strain.
The life that leaves you goes on without relief,

paying taxes and filing for divorce.
I don’t believe a poem can save me.

I can hear one coming now.


I am a good wolf.
Here comes the first nail of light
Like a river that passed beyond the sea.

A herd of white deer grazing
At the edge of the red forest.
Inside every tree is a violin.

When I close my eyes,
I can hear the velvet sound,
The marble tides of the moon.

So the world possesses me
With its spell. I can’t help
My life, its wonders

And its failures. A green star
Burning through the heart
Like a dark well of oil.

And the frozen note
Keeps echoing, unchanged,
All those turning years.

I don’t want to hurt you.
When I say I am a good wolf
it’s because you cannot possess me.

Yes, the things we believe in
Never save us. And
What you love will destroy you.

Grace Q. Song is a Chinese-American writer residing in New York City. Her poetry and fiction have been published or are forthcoming in The Boiler, The Journal, The Cincinnati Review, The Minnesota Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere. Previous works have been selected for inclusion in Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfiction. She studies English at Columbia University.