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Modern Museum

—Miguel Barretto-García

Modern Museum

The cabinet is a room of curiosities:

A microscope, an Erlenmeyer flask, a body


That used to be a bird, a body that used to be

A boy. A giant turtle. Vintage black dress. The glass


Separates the living from what used to be

And what used to be living gather around


And gather dust. How curious for curiosity to be

Left on display. I perform experiments


Through thought. That is to say, I philosophize.

Not philosopher. My language wears a little


Black dress, singing to the river dressed

As the moon. I undress and speak plainly,


My vernacular is cursing. My language is

A curse, that I put a peso or five in a jar as if


To pay for a ticket to death. Never have I thought

That language poetry be so avant-garde. Simply


Weave the scrap patches left and make them

Sound. With a forked tongue, split lip, my nature


Is a cabinet of curiosities and a word

Is a room that would lead me to another room


The way I open the door and take a turn

Of phrase. A line


Break. A broken English, not my grammar or syntax

But the way English itself picks its nose


And navel gazes whilst asleep on a monsoon night

My grandma wakes to the naval canons


And airstrikes and each strike

Through on the page is skin scarred


In class when a mouth is measured through

Class. Accent is no more studded jewel


To a dress, but thick

Walls of a border crossing, separating living


From the passport holder defumigated for lice

But how delicious: to taste the sweet


Unintelligible songs the cicadas chirp and chip

The wood to reveal the coffins


Of hanging fruit, waiting for a mouth to savour

Syllable. At the botanical gardens, a generous


Display of pineapples, dragon fruit, urchin

Rambutan, spiky durian labelled


Exotic, just like the living they let to live

In a village in the cruellest month of April.

About

MIGUEL BARRETTO-GARCÍA's poems have appeared in The Margins: Asian American Writer's Workshop, Poetry Northwest, Palette Poetry, wildness, Rattle, among others. Their manuscripts were finalist in the Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize and The Palette Chapbook Prize. They've also received an honourable mention for the Hawker Prize for Southeast Asian Poetry. They currently live in St. Louis, Missouri.

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