“Some Explanation Behind Crumbling Structures” by Jessica Xing

There is a quiet way in which gods beg:  

The first time I ever went to China I rode into the

countryside on my dad’s old work shirt. 

“How magnificent.”  my dad said, throwing his arms back. 

“Food is everywhere if you know where to feast.” 

And in one fell swoop he picked and ate a handful of beetles and maggots

Clinging onto the walls of his old elementary school.

“What gods are protecting this place?” I asked him.

“The gods of arrogance, and by look of this rot they are asking us to help them.” 


My mom told me once: 

“There are gods cradling this house.” 


Tonight it seems it is time to talk about metaphysics. 

“I failed math.” I told them, “If you want me to understand this you need to talk slower.” 

“Entropy. Consumption, Combustion.” my dad sang. “Simple morals really—” 

“What your dad is trying to say,” my mom placated. “Is that at the core of it all it is sacrifice — 

Removal, disintegration.” 

“You want me to become smoke?” I asked. “That sounds terrifying.” 

“Honey.” My mom said. “How can you be afraid of fire when we crafted you from ash?”


The dance is measured. 

When I trip and get sent spinning onto the concrete, 

They fashion a middle-aged woman made of litter to help me up. 

“Please, before you leave, answer me a question,” I beg. 

“What gods could possibly be protecting me here?” 

Since she is made out of debris she sympathizes and rewards me with some advice. 

“The gods of wrath hate so much and love very little.” she smiled. 


 “Better tread carefully, sunshine.”



I was taught at a young age to quarantine my love 

My mom told me “Easy girls never get good men”

I got mono the first time I ever kissed a girl, and I

watched her saliva turn to infection in the bathroom mirror

tonsillitis gets dangerous once the fever reaches

103 degrees, yet for 3 days I waited for my tonsils to swell 

until I physically couldn’t breathe 

When I was rushed to the hospital it turns out

My throat was so full of pus that it took

the doctors over 13 hours to finally drain it all out — 


My mom told me “In this world, there are no ugly girls, just lazy ones” 

To drain the pus pockets out the doctors had to 

Rip my tonsils open, and the first time 

they didn’t give me enough morphine so 

while chunks of my throat dribbled out the side of my lips

I screamed so loud I spewed the doctor’s hand out of my mouth — 

There’s a girl I’ve liked for over 3 months 

And I got strep throat 3 days before our first date 

Once again I watched as this same pockmarked 

throat swell with this unchecked whiteness; And I got this

Syphilitic pleasure at the thought at my adoration 

Literally being infection, I think with awe that

Finally! Here is the proof, real physical fucking proof! Love  

Can only ever be disgusting corroded rotten diseased


Imagine all the bacteria I would

Vomit down her throat.  



There is a man outside and I think he wants to kill me. 

Here is my treatise on running: speed is inherited yet 

escape has to be proven to the god of blood. 

I am sitting in this lecture hall, and I just only have a minute

to wonder if I am doing the right thing before people start

To ask: “Is rage hereditary? Is rage hereditary?” 


“How about monstrosity?” 


There is a man outside and he is coming closer. 

My friends tell me there is no shame in being killed by a handsome guy, 

and yet I keep trying to tell them: “Am I the only one who sees this idiot has 

No Body? Is that supposed to be normal?” 

Here is my treatise on my nightmares — people think running is about speed, muscle when really it is about destruction. My legs need to become air, so in order to become air they need to be removed. It is the slow unraveling of sinew, the peeling back of skin. Destruction, destruction, here is to the awful god of my ancestry. 


See, you are starting to look confused, so let me try to explain this again: 

There is a man and he hates me. 

He is cut off from the middle and he doesn’t move like the person — 

He moves like a faulty home video, and the only way he can come closer

Is if I //c l  o  s e// m   y// e   y   e     s// 

Oh no, there he goes again — you need to remind me not to do that. 


Here is my treatise on frenzy. 

My inheritance is cleasening. Flay everything open and in the rawness you find rebirth. 

I need you to see that I am yelling at him. Please tell me you can see I am fighting back. Please tell me you see that I am not making myself helpless to this. 

Use your eyes and look, LOOK — he doesn’t react to anything he doesn’t believe me when I scream because no one believes me when I scream no one answered the first question

Oh no now everyone is looking right at me again: “Is rage hereditary?” 


Please don’t kill me I don’t have a good answer

Please don’t kill me 

when will I stop being punished for becoming unrecognizable 

I have pulled my eyes back with pliers and he’s not

Moving any closer anymore I am doing the best I can 

Can you please just look away—