recently there have been / so many emergencies / around here / it is hard to have a full 

conversation / without having to worry about / what i don’t know how to worry about / the 

sirens wake me up / steal from me / each hour that i am trying / and i find myself / 

unsure of what all these interrupted narratives / could mean / they were hard enough to 

interpret / at the psychic’s


it has been hard / recently / to walk outside / i am not certain enough of / myself to be

seen / quite like that / by people i do not know / i am trying to figure out / what it is i am 

selling / and how to price it / in a way which does not / insult the buyers / i am not sure if 

such a price exists


in a room / where i can’t close the blinds / even when changing / i fear i could not open

 them / back up / i have an album of thoughts / hooked up to car alarms / strung on 

smoke detectors


i found a paper cut yesterday / even if i sold it / i am not sure i would hear anything / not 




all the tall buildings near me

my mother wants to buy a gun

she says our faces will be hated

she keeps imagining

someone breaking in to kill us all


my mother wants to buy a gun

what if i hate my face already

can i say that out loud

most of the cruelty i know


is towards myself. my mother

wants a gun but in the end

we refrain—a fantasy purchase—

a peculiar form of love.


i admit that it still leaves me

lonely now without a scapegoat

without my mother wanting a gun

how many things can i worry about


and is it okay if i am one of those things

i know the correct answer to

though i cannot say it to myself

and—peculiar form of love—mean it




Biographical Note: Xiadi Zhai is a senior at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts studying chemistry, physics, and comparative literature.