National Poetry Month Day 12: Carlina Duan







in the basement with a broom. we
were kids, feral. gooseberry jam. real
smart lipped. four-square, too. cool
asphalt, shiny sneaker kings. we
watched the rats after she left
for work. tails: grey cords coiled. school
in the basement, slant windows, we
sat near a tipping sun. the lurk
of water in a pipe. lurk of blood. late
to the show in sequins, whiskers. we
watched those rats die. a little strike
atop the skull. a little straight
cut. we did not learn thrash. we
did not learn suffer. to sing
a ribcage like a kettle. to sin
a little, we thought. we
were kids. our world: thin
blots of pink, sun. said the word gin!
nothing but a fine rhyme, sliding fast. we
touched the rats, their small jazz
of leaving. it was not until june
that she sealed the pipe shut. we
knew they would die
(and their children, too).
we wouldn’t forget, then. but soon.


Photograph of Carlina Duan by Yiran Liu.

Carlina Duan is a writer-educator from Michigan. The author of the poetry collection I Wore My Blackest Hair (Little A, 2017), she currently teaches at the University of Michigan, where she is also a PhD student in the Joint Program of English and Education. Her second book of poems, Alien Miss, is forthcoming from the University of Wisconsin Press in the spring of 2021. Find her online at More from this author →