Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry

Janine Joseph


Maybe if when I dove into the pool my head came up
swollen and lobotomized and cuckoo in its nest.

Maybe if the doll named Janet with rolling eyes
came alive when my cousins locked me in the closet.

Maybe if out of the stack of worn tires my hands held
a cane toad. Maybe if the speared squid’s ink blinded me.

Maybe if when my door flapped open on the freeway
I instead was saying the Act of Contrition.

Maybe if my brother slipped me out of my inner tube
and left me, my hair worming in the Pacific.

Maybe if I got the belt. Maybe if my mouth was washed
with soap. Maybe if my hair dragged me more times.

Maybe if no one gave me a ride and I walked home
in the dark with my chest making a walloping sound.

Maybe if when I leapt and the seesaw plank flipped
her daughter, they held my head.

Maybe if my parents had signed here and signed here and signed here.