“[you bug me]” By Jia Yue He

[you bug me]

Poem by Jia Yue He

Art by Paphada Chantrakul


just a few months ago you were a worm. 

you gorged yourself on greenness 

then you stopped 

& wrapped yourself in solitude. 

two days ago, you became

fledgling stanzas that could barely flap, 

so swollen with hemolymph –

now look at you. limping through the air

to the meter of your heartbeat

a visitor of midnight flowers

with eyes like brown sugar 

and teeth like moons.


            never mind that you’ll be dead in a fortnight.


[yet you think they’ll be afraid because your name

is only a few letters away from victory. you gall me.

they’ll see through your pantomime

and your wings will melt like sugar

in their mouths

and they will teach you your disguise

means nothing when it’s in shreds.


fly to the stars,

land on Venus

and taste your victory –

you already have a king


all kings have their little vices.]


but you might learn.

your children are your spitting image, not unlike a tilde.

they also go for the red ones. mull over that –

they even have your noughts and crosses,

your death’s head friends. you have an ear for

keeping the dark at bay

when you drink from the mulberries.

tell them to take it easy –

wait, with bated breath, 

for them to disagree.

a war cry.


        yes, you were young 


        you won’t last forever.


forget this life. it was briefer than a sunshower. last winter 

you didn’t even exist. 

you were a smudge on the underside of a leaf

balanced on a needle

and then you left yourself a smudge.

you’ve learned

you’ve learned, I hope you have.

forget it.

go on to new things.




pour your body

into thousands of creeping words, 

watch them melt 

into jelly and metamorphose 

into strophes, scrape off the 

gooey bits &


of cocoon, from when you were young &

afraid of semicolons;

harvest the sound of silken


in the shadow of an elm.