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I sang my voicemail,
I was a diva those days,

unformed as Earth

in its primordial years,

      a soup

      teachers call it.

If ABBA taught me anything,
it was how to be a queen,
transcend myself and ride waves
of musicality,

     an essence unto itself.

We need to talk,
father answered
—let me take off my shoes,

     too-large coat (I was even skinnier
     then)       —Are you gay?

not wasting time,
only concerned with truth, if
his theory was correct.

     The planet’s a shaped mess,

happiness can’t exist
in negative capability.    Who knew my body

would remain        -less?


Ghosts swim across the Pacific,
say hello through my tap.
Outside Talisay City
water is polluted—

      human feces, urine

      from untreated septic tanks.

They came to warn me.

I also think they came
to bring me cancer.
Half my mother’s siblings have died
from shapeless facial tumors.
She never bathed in the sea,
her parents knew the water
was never safe.

When I fear
the lump on my neck has      metastasized
I know I’m my mother’s child.
Death by cell overgrowth
would mire me in ancestral love,
dispel earthly doubts
I was never Asian enough.

I wrap my mouth around the faucet,

    let spirits mix with saliva,

 gulp years of heritage down my throat.

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Dani Putney is a queer, non-binary, Asian American poet exploring the West. They’re fascinated with the various shapes—and shapelessness—of their gender and overall intersectional identity. Presently, they’re infiltrating a small conservative town in the middle of the Nevada desert.

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