Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry

Janine Joseph


J gave me my first mop because she loved
that I loved cleaning the kitchen instead
of pouring cereal over Saturday
morning cartoons. J never felt the same,
and would lisp hours of Rascals and Smurfs,
then Superfriends, Snorks. But when J came to
get us, after we got the car and horse-
property house, J and J never had
the time—too many chores with that yard and

all those fruit trees. J was wrong; I loved setting
the table after mass with eggs and soy sauce
the most, though I can’t remember much of it,
except that J, J, and J were always there—
and I never got to see them anymore.
J’s permed hair was growing out and she and J
started smoking without me. J was kicked out.
J had even kissed a girl at the public
school, and we knew what that meant. After he told

Issue 4 | Winter 2012

the neighbor girl he loved her skull when he meant her
soul, we thought it was over for him and me, and
J and J. J hung paper lanterns at Christmas.
J still lined shoes at the door. J still stocked burlap
sacks of Calrose rice and bulk-boiled, still served and grubbed
on pork with their hands. We were so new to the block.
So when J laughed and made fun of J and the girl
and how stuttering stupid he must’ve sounded,
J scolded us. We shouldn’t talk about those things

or people who do those things, J said, and J listened.