Metta for Winter Solstice in Los Angeles

by Kenji C. Liu

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We cannot see this place being the default

for much longer.



Winter wears quotation marks. This is

a nation made of air quotes.



A bat signal breaks the dark, burning




Our coiled, feathered bodies circle the disaster

of touch. Use the big fork or little?



A receipt sneaks onto the tablecloth.

At no time was the cost of being civilized conveyed.



The warp and sway of an inflated snowman.

An unknown worker drew his smile to spec.



I wake crushing the nurse’s hand and

they give me more gas.



I wake because I can’t stay

where I am.



We promise to sublimate for each other,

not for the market of bodies.



Our mad pond of scientifically impossible

weather. The officials disapprove, officially.



We refuse to be transcendent.

Author's Statement

Having grown up in New Jersey, winters in Los Angeles are annual reminders of the strangeness of where I am. This is a series of vignettes in which I consider many intersecting fragments—the affordable housing crisis, living in Tongva and former Mexican territories, the winter nights that swallow up the daylight hours, and not an ounce of snow—which all feel like improbable contradictions to me. On top of this, the default, capitalist orientation of our entire "civilization" is a gigantic contradiction, and something that cannot possibly last for much longer. This poem is a metta (loving-kindness) prayer towards our process of waking up, and hopefully soon.