Jasmine Cui



Imagine father slaking thirst with sweet

sap of Changde river, puddled in mud


caked fingers like mottled fish.

Hands cupped, asking


the ground to give.

Mother in discount slacks, sighing, thrusting


dollar store mop as men kneel half-wasted

on grease slicked tiles, praying


wretched prayers that radiate like tooth

ache into spit shine porcelain.


Bathroom stall is confessional &

Chinese takeout is church & cousin


the deacon, kissing sweat

stained elbows knowing


her job is to sanctify.

Embassy is MGM Grand


& aunt is casino star, well versed

in the rules of “immigration roulette,”


betting away years for promise of green

card. My lips struggling


to pronounce the word “English,” purling together

flesh bleeding into flesh. Mouth reduced to nothing


more than phantom limb.

A wet “shaaaaah,” all I can muster

is the hollow hiss of rain.


Jasmine Cui is 17 years old and is majoring in Political Science, Economics, and Violin Performance at SUNY Geneseo. She aspires to be like her parents who are first-generation Americans that fought an extraordinary battle for their place in this country. Her work can be found at The Shallow Ends, Glass: a Journal of Poetry and www.jasminecui.com. 

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