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Para Vadhahong

City of Horses, How to Confess

City of Horses

Our kingdom tilts on a manmade axis,
a pillar wrought from mythology.

When the farangs arrived we yearned
for their mercy, not their obedience;
their spectacle, not their defeat.

To keep ourselves on the good side
of history we built a warhorse and
dragged our boys and girls into its
belly, ill-omened children sewing
lies to the smooth singing throat of
the royal walls.

In this capital of imported horses
in our nation of wooden trophies
we hurry off to the races
with our spyglass and flock
of palace photographers.

This is what siwalai looks like,
we say in our topcoats and poised hats
as if the beasts we tame are made of us,
their tongues gilded with whiskey and
the pyrrhic rot of victory.

The great lie of our lives: this city
won’t be toppled by any empire
so long as we sow ourselves
the gift, the race, the seeds of myth
before they can do it for us.

How to Confess

The asphalt scrapes the bend of my knee,
licks my blood from its chin with sand.

She shimmies the night down her ankles,
teaches me to dance with no underwear.

A starlet can come from any old desert hell
so long as she knows how to keep a secret.

Look out there. Jagged comb of empty suburb,
ghost wives drifting out with the hurricane,

all their unlived houses rearing bare-faced
wallpaper. We are not children anymore

but we break things to test their gravity,
heirloom plates of names crossed out in red

at the center of appetite. Her room covered
in stray tobacco and Taco Bell wrappers

is a teenage path to excess I’ll head down
for the long way home. Between my covers

she is a star on a lipsticked, ear-folded spread—
peach juice rinsing our throats with summer,

limbs tangled before the daybreak of being.
This shared body, a party I’ll gleefully crash

before our shadows outgrow their claim
over confession: two believers, unwitnessed,

hunkering over the asphalt, tending to what
cannot be carried to the nods of the waking.

This hand is as much yours as mine, one insists,
and the other clings like a child against bedtime.

Bio: Para Vadhahong is a poet whose work is published in Brain Mill Press, Kingdoms in the Wild, Hyacinth Review, Lover's Eye Press, and INKSOUNDS.

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