Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry

R.A. Villanueva

You Will Drown For Poems

for Dennis Kim, 1983-2005

If your notebook packed into a knapsack tumbles
into the current of a river some October night

If this notebook’s marbled face reminds you of home, a hand-
drawn map of tectonic plates, a silt-soaked dock’s attendant moss

If the words within have ever saved you If they liken love
to glacial melts, the tides’ claw against rocks

If they liken faith to waterwings

And because the river is the Hudson, flecked with sirens Because it chews
at the starboard cheek of tugboats and spits at ferries which pass

Because you think poems are breaths that hands reclaim Because you wish one day
to speak in tongues Because she should hear you read for her

Because odes are now also elegies Because we cannot know what wake our living leaves
Because this confluence of muscle and loss Because they float just 10 yards out

Because you leap the pier’s railing headfirst