© 2017 . All rights reserved.

Kazumi Chin @ Bryant Park, July 25, 2017

I went to Bryant Park to hear some poets read one evening last week and was happily surprised by a poet I didn’t know from San Francisco, Kazumi Chin, reading from his new book, Having A Coke With Godzilla, published by Sibling Rivalry Press. I didn’t start to video Kazumi until he was half way through his first poem; that was when I realized I was enjoying the poetry so much that I pulled out my iPhone to record, my right hand holding, my left thumb balancing, helping to steady the phone. My hand doesn’t shake, but it sometimes waves. And if my camera makes the landscape seem to move, this fits the poet perfectly. If you get the impression we aren’t in a park, but on the rolling sea, that’s fine because when Kazumi reads his metamorphic poetry, a park can as easily be an ocean.

I’m going to type out some poems from Having A Coke With Godzilla that Kazumi didn’t read. In the first, Mosquito Love Letter, the poet is a mosquito, and in the second, Sumi, his grandmother, like God, gives him names that make him Kazumi. If the poet is able to change, then the listener, the reader is able to change too. Readng the following poems, I think of Rilke’s sublime command—Du mußt dein Leben ändern. You must change your life. And speaking of that, I’m also going to type out Becoming Mermaid. There are four poems in Having A Coke With Godzilla with that title; the one I type out here is the first one, and it is one that Kazumi doesn’t read in the Vimeo. Enjoy.

Mosquito Love Letter

On the first page of my tongue
you’ll find no words. From the life

before I took your blood inside me.
Before I knew your veins

could define what it meant
to keep humming this tune I’d forgotten

the words to. Before I was Kazumi,
I was a mosquito who knew nothing

except to kiss you as hard as I could.
Before you spilled your lips all over me,

and I followed you to the top
of that pyramid, before I knew

I wanted only to hold you there, give
back to you this heart you filled,

still beating. When you loved me again
in the way you do, and I didn’t understand.

When I thought I’d taken everything,
I’d stolen more from you

than I could return, you led me down
the stairs, deep into the caves

where I’d left myself long ago,
before I met you. And you held me

in the dark until I found my body,
and my body rose and spoke

and said that it was good enough,
it was good enough for me.

for my grandmother

She would name the sun as it rose
the moon, so that when the moon
was setting, the moon would also
rise. She would name the river
the ocean, and watch as it flowed
endlessly into itself. She would name
the rain, the clouds. The light, the dark.
The desert she would name the coast.
One day, she would return there
to name me.

Kazu for peace,
Mi for beauty, so that I would become
both of these, just as she. Su, for endless,
Mi, as in me, we, the river, the ocean,
endless. And she, the beauty
inside me.

Becoming Mermaid

The black and white version of myself was killing me.
Climbed from my throat into my mouth, spoke
with such authority. Charmed the snakes, charmed
the lakes, charmed the rivers to close around my neck.
I couldn’t breathe. Hated every second of his smile.
Wanted to be done, lay down as if in sleep, but even
then, his voice creeped out of me. Kept me in his well
of poison apples, Bite down, he said. So I bit down.
Open your mouth. I opened my mouth. Breathe.

One by one, I watched my selves fading beneath
the water. Until I was only who I was. Dark avatar,
desensitized to violence, organs crying out
from cavities. Left my body and watched from afar.
I was dark glasses in a darkened room, the brim
of a hat pulled down. Found a fish and swam
like that for centuries, unburdened my feet.

Until I stumbled across convergence. Swam upstream
just to see. This place where the rivers meet.
My back sprouted into a mountain. My torso fell
deep as the sea. Suddenly he was there in the back
seat, he was saying, What you have seen is not yours
to keep
But I was already something other than me.
He pushed my head under. I was choking, spitting,
but found I could breathe. Gills opened from my cheeks.
He was scared. He tried to leave. I swallowed.

Kazumi Chin

Having A Coke With Godzilla
is published by Sibling Rivalry Press. Check them out here:


Leave a Reply