by Alvin Tran (with Wendy Xu & Katie)

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Three petals softness plays upon my heart

Three barter for the life of the whole

You cannot coerce one to kill the other nor denigrate itself

The metaphor of the door     abiding threshold

Tells its story until it becomes a chant

The story of the door         the story of the threshold

Repeats until it becomes a key



We should take in its formal center

Forms misfiring organize the world

Social and detrimental to long life on earth
Intention breaking     broken        thus time passes banal ever-lasting

Three marks seal your memory inside me

Petals tow strongly east and west
A courage of red bisects

The moon represents my heart
Is the oldest thing ever spoken on earth

Is an engine of uncertainty     three for all time

The sound of my inner children churning
Compositionally involved
They want music
Untouched trees
The formal rigidity only a body can produce at will
Producing more questions     forms

Let me narrate some of the recent past:

Money is the base of spiritual cultivation

Which our emperor has none to begin with

All those who seek power are punished by heaven

Itself ruled by a father

The husband thus sets out to kill the Inner Father

The final test is always this Inner Father

He has made you hate the soft and wilder things on earth

The Inner Father polishes his pearlescent skin beneath the moonlight

Bodies become fathers when pushed to their limits

You wanted to be good

The faceable sum of your hellish parts

Your own demilitarized zone that connotes without shame

What will I say to the great turtle when he sees me?

Not Autobiography

Not The Line Running Through It

My myth found me later
Somewhere between life and death
As if speech was always straining in this direction

My mist found me open-mouthed on the beach
Engorged with air
Bent crudely

Three petals open to the ignorance of water

Living creatures ask one another:

So Then,
How Do

Men cut up the earth
Men cut off their petals

In a story, I make you a promise
If my body survives the future
Aye Ya
If my family survives the future
I will teach them to move
Three barter for the life of the whole
Three moving through time
Repeated upon
Asked about mine
Three forged in time

Alvin Tran is a choreographer and artist from Seattle, USA. Recently, he has worked on performances with The Inner Mongolian National Troupe of Song and co-directed the Macau Dance festival. He has shown works in exhibitions including Looking For A Clone at Cherish, Nobody Beats The Odds at Forde, Shanghai Projects at Himalaya’s Museum, Self-Criticism at Inside-Out Museum, and Art Night London. His writing has appeared in New Performance Review and Heichi Magazine.

Born in Shandong, China, in 1987, Wendy Xu lives in Brooklyn. She is most recently the author of The Past, and Phrasis, named one of the Ten Best Poetry Books of 2017 by the New York Times Book Review. She is assistant professor of writing at The New School in NYC.