The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Monkey Was Here by Jasmine An

This selection, chosen by guest curator Addie Tsai, is from Monkey Was Here by Jasmine An, released by Porkbelly Press in 2020. 

Internalized Myth of the Model Minority

Monkey cannot remove his crown.
Guanyin loves him too much.

She knows what happens
to loud monkeys.

She coronated him with a lock
and sold the key. I own it.

I swallowed it.

Monkey, an upraised
fist and a megaphone, a burning
flare and a barricade.

I write poems. Guanyin loves.

Monkey’s crown is silence.
Guanyin is mercy.

I am a quiet girl. Monkey
sits beside me to write.
His fingers fumble
the pen. He tries to be quiet.

I call myself merciful.
Guanyin smiles at me.

Monkey, a cut tongue.
Me, shoveling cream cheese
wontons down my throat like stones.

                                                I choke.
                                                I gasp, loud.

                                                            Guanyin gives me
                                                            the Heimlich.
                                                            She loves me too much
                                                            to let me go,

                                                            even though Monkey
                                                            is my raw throat.
                                                            I cough up the key.
                                                            Monkey breathes.

                                                                       Guanyin loves us
                                                                        and weeps.
                                                                        I am not a quiet girl.

Jasmine An comes from the Midwest. Her poetry and non-fiction can be found in Black Warrior Review’s Boyfriend Village, Michigan Quarterly Review, Nat. Brut, Waxwing and Best New Poets 2020. She is author of two chapbooks of poetry Naming the No-Name Woman (Two Sylvias Press, 2016) and Monkey Was Here (Porkbelly Press, 2020) and Poetry Editor at Agape Editions. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in English and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Michigan

Addie Tsai (any/all) is a queer nonbinary artist and writer of color. They collaborated with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater on Victor Frankenstein and Camille Claudel, among others. Addie holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University. She is the author of the queer Asian young adult novel Dear TwinUnwieldy Creatures, their adult queer biracial retelling of Frankenstein, is forthcoming from Jaded Ibis Press in 2022. They are the Fiction Co-Editor at Anomaly, Staff Writer at Spectrum South, and Founding Editor & Editor in Chief at just femme & dandy.

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