National Poetry Month Day 29: “Deconstruction: Citizenship” by Kenji Liu


Deconstruction: Citizenship

Have you ever been a member of or in any way associated either directly or indirectly with?

Indirectly a biometric hazard, activate. Associated with a cold rubber stamp. Are we within earshot of a dissection table? Your eagle describes each tremor of the splay. Country and body at right angles. A constant misspelling of membership.

Have you ever advocated either directly or indirectly the overthrow?

Flag, a grip of directions.
Cardboard crosses the border, bristling with folds. How the capitol slaps heaven with its ambition.

My mother, who never became one of you, who filled her stomach with electricity. Couldn’t overthrow the surgery of documents.

Are you my republic of paper?



Kenji C. Liu‘s writing appears in The Los Angeles Review, The Pinch, Asian American Literary Review, Barrow Street Journal, CURA, RHINO, Split This Rock’s poem of the week series, several anthologies and a chapbook. A recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, VONA/Voices, Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, he holds an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Social Transformation and lives in Los Angeles.


Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →