Three Poems by Jasmine An

Film Analysis Techniques

Whose perspective does the camera represent? Whose eyes? I stare. How am I any different than the hungry sockets of men? What if my hand slips between my legs? What if I moan? Which sounds are diegetic? What if I moan? The music is supposed to be Mandarin. The soldiers are shouting in ching-chong-wing-wong, not Chinese. The woman doesn’t make a sound; her back is a silent arch; it’s bare. Does the use of light call attention to itself? Do I squint? Shadows drip off the crease of her spine. I’m staring still. Her lips are roughed red, but this film is black and white. What if the gauze clinging to her nipple slips? The bow of her breast is against my cheek already. Does the mise-en-scene manipulate my experience of time? I looked already. Her skin in my eyes already. What if I forget which decade we each belong to? I watch her wrap her fingers into the air above her head and when she pulls it’s my lungs that empty.

 

Staged Kiss, or She Practices for a Scene She Will Never Star In

I.

Establish boundaries ahead of time.1
Talk with your partner about how far
each of you is willing to go. Don’t
improvise. Don’t get caught up
in the heat of the moment.
Bring a toothbrush to work.

Never use your tongue when performing a kiss on stage.
Quote, realistic passionate embraces can be staged without crossing
the line2 and becoming that intimate with a fellow actor, end quote.

II.

I left because I was tired of dying so often. Pathetic dying seemed to be the best thing I could do on stage. I was so tired.

III.

She stands in front of her full-length mirror. Slowly, she tips her head to the side and raises her right hand to rest, palm open, on an invisible cheek, left fingers up to knuckle underneath a nonexistent chin. Her right thumb presses firmly over the plush of imagined lips. Staring deep into the reflection of her eyes in the mirror, she leans in and kisses the back of her own thumb, softly, with open lips and no tongue.

 

Inheritance

In the psychoanalytic process of incorporation, the subject mimes its repossession of a lost object by eating or speaking awry, attempting literally to embed the object into or make it part of the body itself.
Elizabeth Freeman

She is in my mouth. I add vinegar to the soy sauce hoping to chase her out. Instead, the soft boiled eggs I dip and swallow just burn on the way down. I didn’t offer my tongue as a tactile instrument for temporal transactions, but that’s what the literature says she’s doing. I pronounce her name wrong, Wong Liu Tsong, and she spites me by making me fumble the days of the week and forget about time. I’m behind now, lagging somewhere closer to where she’s pulling me. I open my mouth and her hands slide out, not elegant, but old, wrinkled palms rubbed ragged by the years between her death and my birth. She pinches my lips and rearranges them into something more her liking, blood just below the surface. Incorporation imagines a psyche with unpredictable leakages, a body at semiotically and sexually productive temporal odds with itself. My tongue drips with her fingernail clippings. I haven’t masturbated in months, instead make my boyfriend fuck me hard every night. When he pauses over the fine, lady’s fingerprints on my lips, I tell him to kiss with his mouth closed and never mind the company, she’ll be staying.

 

 

***

Jasmine An comes from the Midwest. She has also lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand, studying language, urban development and climate change, and blacksmithing. Her chapbook, Naming the No-Name Woman, won the 2015 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize, and her work can be found in Stirring: A Literary Collection, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Nat. Brut, and Waxwing, among others. Currently, she is an editor at Agape Editions and pursuing a PhD in English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.

Image: thesprucecrafts.com

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1. In 1880, following a national trend, California establishes an anti-miscegenation law, making interracial relationships illegal.

2. The law is repealed in 1948 following the end of World War II.

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