Rumpus Original Poetry: Two Poems by Kate Hao






In this family nothing
goes abandoned:
we do not believe
in excess: that which
we do not want we hide
in rooms we can only enter
while squinting: look:
the cobwebbed basement:
tissue paper trees:
a cardboard fortress
for hand-me-downs & a girl with
spoons for hands who cannot stop
wanting: in this family
that which we inherit
we earn: we honor
by keeping: a good daughter
sharpens her memory:
a good daughter has
no reason for guilt: no
reason for hiding anywhere
outside of plain sight


Voicemail for My Mother (First Rehearsal)

Everything I do is in search of home and either
I am always returning or there was no beginning

at all. Either I was bled into this world or I was
apparitioned. [Say it again, but gentler.] I thought

you had grown angry with me but turns out
you were just lazy. I believe everything you say

over the phone. I have not seen a hospital ceiling
since the day I was born. In my dreams I am the last leg

of the dinner table, weakly built, quivering under a glass bowl
of rotting apples. I am either already perfected, or an upcoming

regret. [Say it again—quickly now.]
I click-clock my tongue into tomorrow.

I invent myself a new language and will answer
your call next time. If I am to go unseen

I want to be running. I stumble
and skid, I leave a path in the mud,

but no one will ever know
which way my eyes are looking



Author photo by Jaydee Lee

Kate Hao is a poet and fiction writer, a shy Leo, an ex-pianist, a soup enthusiast, an aspiring morning person. Her work has appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, and others. She grew up in the suburbs of northern Virginia and currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island. More from this author →