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Online Feature: “A Girl-Thief’s Illustrated Primer”

To guarantee safety, go back inside & count
to noon. To make honey by honest trees,
press for time. Either way, all numbers are hellhound
as well as holy, but what did you expect?

A little divine torture has always been
the way in, and waiting for daylight
robbery won’t leave you deadly. Or, take my
word away and light up the teeth in the tumbler

all at once, like the locked door is a yawning
god and you the very last Alleluia—
at once, as if your heart shredded its school
-skirt and shotgunned over the yard for home.

Be need with a black glove riding the wrist.
Be first-felony Eve in the red telephone
booth outside the garden, a battle coal
dialing herself back into the war.

They kept you on the wrong side all along.
Hold a tension wrench closer. Treat your gates
like they were lovers and listen for the Yes.
And there it is, but look at what you found inside.

This poem appeared in Indiana Review 33.2, Winter 2011.


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Lo Kwa Mei-en is a Kundiman fellow and the author of YEARLING (Alice James Books, 2015), THE BEES MAKE MONEY IN THE LION (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2016), and THE ROMANCES, a chapbook forthcoming from The Lettered Streets Press. Her recent work can be found in PEN Poetry Series, The Margins, The Offing, and VIDA: Women and Literary Arts. She is from Singapore and Ohio, where she now lives and works in Cincinnati.