Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry

Janine Joseph


J gave me my first mop because she loved
that I loved cleaning the kitchen instead
of pouring cereal over Saturday
morning cartoons. J never felt the same,
and would lisp hours of Rascals and Smurfs,
then Superfriends, Snorks. But when J came to
get us, after we got the car and horse-
property house, J and J never had
the time—too many chores with that yard and

all those fruit trees. J was wrong; I loved setting
the table after mass with eggs and soy sauce
the most, though I can’t remember much of it,
except that J, J, and J were always there—
and I never got to see them anymore.
J’s permed hair was growing out and she and J
started smoking without me. J was kicked out.
J had even kissed a girl at the public
school, and we knew what that meant. After he told

the neighbor girl he loved her skull when he meant her
soul, we thought it was over for him and me, and
J and J. J hung paper lanterns at Christmas.
J still lined shoes at the door. J still stocked burlap
sacks of Calrose rice and bulk-boiled, still served and grubbed
on pork with their hands. We were so new to the block.
So when J laughed and made fun of J and the girl
and how stuttering stupid he must’ve sounded,
J scolded us. We shouldn’t talk about those things

or people who do those things, J said, and J listened.