you are in the diode archives fall 2010



Suppose You Were a Stingray

Your whole day was spent searching for a spicy cuttlefish snack. You were always the death of a party. Like a war god made of feathers. The way baby condors are fed by puppets in zoos—what is the crumple of feather—what does it sound like when a baby accidentally sees that puppet like a puddle on the floor?  I know that when you are gone I will always think of you when I eat an orange. All the oranges you forced on me when I visited you in Florida. I will surely cry into my orange. My orange, my orange.

We were so close we were matroyshka dolls, nestled into one another. I was inside you and the boy with the wild hair was the smallest one inside me, the only one whose insides were not scooped out, will never be scooped out. No scar-line drawn across his belly. He was the prize, the pearl firked out and oh, the applause.


While Riding an Elephant, I Think of Unicorns

Periyar National Park, India

The elephant takes me deeper into the bamboo forest
and I start to worry about what other animals
might be hiding here. The stalks are so thick
and clustered in tight walls of green, it makes me

wonder about the tiger preserve nearby and how
this would make a lovely place to find
a dinner date, if I was a disgruntled tiger.
Or if I was a unicorn—and needed some peace

and privacy—this would definitely be the ideal spot.
And when I daydream about unicorns, I can’t help
but think of that little frog in the right hand corner
of that famous medieval tapestry, “Unicorn

in Captivity.” That unicorn is fat and sassy—
almost smiling in repose—while it munches
on the pomegranate seeds that must have fallen
from the swollen tree under which is sits. The unicorn

seems oblivious to the wily frog in the lower
right-hand corner who hides in a bed of violets.
The lesson this frog teaches me here atop this elephant,
deep in this bamboo—is to not panic. Even when

you are so clearly out of place and nothing seems
familiar: enjoy the view. There will be plenty of time
for delicious and comfortable water-spots.
That frog doesn’t know he will be part of

what will be history’s most memorable image
of the unicorn. Instead, he just sits there,
in his wee wool-warp, silk and gilt wefts, enjoying
the view, grateful for the fields of flower finery.


Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth

Too many needles spoil the cloth.
Too many parrots spoil the talk.
Too many chapped lips spoil the gloss.
Too many teasel burrs spoil the paw.
Too many bubbles spoil the froth.
Too many doorbells spoil the knock.
Too many seeds spoil the floss.
Too many feathers spoil the claw.
Too many light bulbs spoil the moth.
Too many holes spoil the sock.
Too many sunbeams spoil the moss.
Too many kisses spoil the jaw.
Too many wolves spoil the flock.
Too many necks spoil the block.  


Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author the forthcoming Lucky Fish (Tupelo Press) and of two previous collections of poetry: Miracle Fruit, winner of ForeWord Magazine’s Poetry Book of the Year Award, and At the Drive-In Volcano, winner of the Balcones Prize. Accolades for her writing include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Pushcart Prize, and the Global Filipino Award. Her poetry and essays have been anthologized widely, and individual pieces appear in American Poetry Review, FIELD, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, and Orion. She has twice served as a faculty member with the Kundiman Asian-American writers’ retreat and is an associate professor of English at SUNY-Fredonia. She lives in western New York with her husband and two young sons.