Arlene Ang lives in Spinea, Italy. She is the recipient of The 2006 Frogmore Poetry Prize (UK) and the author of The Desecration of Doves (iUniverse Inc. 2005) She serves as a poetry editor for The Pedestal Magazine and Press 1. Her chapbook, “Secret Love Poems” is available from Rubicon Press. More of her writing may be viewed at


Self-Portrait with Umbrella

I am one-third umbrella.
The fakir in my left eye (detail) is a glass
of Bordeaux. Pins and needles
chatter the backwoods.
Maisie’s hands cut my hair.
I wear it like a fishnet. She changes
the appearance of everyone
she meets. Before we make love
I throw up in the bathroom. My necktie
glistens a lunch break.
Under the scissors, my smile
swells a tsunami. I am unemployed
again. I am with the woman
I love. When I grow up,
I tell her, I will be a firefighter.


A Warning about Attachments

You’d think, at first, it’s Ebola.
Or something white that comes through the mail.
A bridal shoe. A bridal cake. The bride—
blindfolded and schmucky (whole package),
or laced with small ransom letters (in parts).
By the time you’d have realized
something’s not quite right, it’s in.
A postal box can swell like your stubbed toe.
And then, you’d admit needing assistance.
The yellow pages are fully infected: Looking for
cheap thread? Come to Marley’s
for a good time. Your pipes are our business.
Turn tables at low, low prices.

You’d think, afterwards, it’s a glitch:
the anti-virus fouled up the way you fouled up
your first date with ketchup. And no, you’d think, no
way. It hasn’t got anything
to do with sex. Length issues, perhaps.
Mostly, spam. Slick girls and gonorrhea in a row.


Wu Jin Contemplates the Tattoo on a Soft Cheek

The medicine pedlar knows
her eyes are veined with red. It is almost
noon. The price on the ointment
for deep burns hangs crooked,
like bamboo in her stepfather’s hands.

She was exiled to Zhangchou
after stealing ten ounces of gold.
When her face was branded,
she didn’t cry. Eventually, she escaped.

The mark on her cheek allows her
favors from passersby. For weeks the wife
of a rich merchant dressed her in silks,
fed her spittle and fish lips from a bowl.

She learned to slip a dagger
from of her sleeve, aim at throats
without regret, share the intimacy
of death from other people’s eye.

Today he offers a salve for pains
that rot through the bone. He asks her
keep one for herself; she walks away.
Tomorrow she will be back, perhaps her fist
opening to take something for herself.