Franny Choi

10/30: Spring Cleaning

Posted by on Apr 12 2013

the new grocery sells real cheese. edging out the plastic bodega substitute. the fruit truck still sets up its boxes of plantains down the block from plates of steaming mussels and bloody marys, tiptoe tourists. ooh, new land. artists march down the street, congratulate themselves on keeping it real. dog leash to the new deli. bringing culture to the west end. cop on speed dial. neighborhood cleanups catch a few live ones. finally some good pastrami around these parts. flashing blue through the window. radio crooning orders. flowers arranged. rubber on tar. skin on steel. an army of macbook pros. say west end like a badge while the folks on the other side of cranston street shake their heads. on the street corner, interrogation lamps burning eyelids. silent battlefront that new settlers keep in back-pocket boxes. sweeping the foyer. out with the old.


Posted by on Apr 10 2013

outlines of branches at dusk . the shush of sand
beneath wheels . blinking constellation of city

dusk at spring familiar . always-known . brings me
to the memory of a day . a story then too . you know

who you look like? i must have dreamt his face once
our passing always on the tip of my tongue . like salt

sharp & distant . i swear someone’s slipped me
the end of this story before . how to cook breakfast

spoon it into each other’s palms . a script clear
as rooftops set alight by a sun’s dying roar

bone-knowledge . the shapes of cheekbones & where
to rest my mouth . heavy in my spine as soil

i blinked alive always-knowing how to love this way
old magic love . solid as a city’s silhouette

8/30: Drive to Quinebaug Valley

Posted by on Apr 08 2013

Backseat. Shoulder to shoulder. Seatbelts
wedged deep in hips. Honey on my left,
trusted friend on my right. (Who called
middle the bitch seat?) Birches whipping
past. Sudden breaks in trees: lakes. Now:
the Scituate Reservoir, no longer myth.
Blessed is the real, this hot meal my love
heated for me. Blessed are the insides of
his wrists, which sneak into conversation.
Urgent philosophy in the front seat; here,
only laughter & marveling, the sunlight
skipping across our foreheads. Train car
diners. Roadside antique bazaar. Strange
landscape to our small-city leers. Familiar
shapes– ears and nose that find their way
between jokes. Here, too, a burrowing
place. Soft caves in the cushions. Safer
than plastic buckles or sudden sacks of
air. Safer is this: this heartbeat beside
mine, the ever-rhythm of live, live, live.

7/30: Sick

Posted by on Apr 08 2013

[Not posting publicly but I swear I wrote it.]

6/30: Sinkhole

Posted by on Apr 08 2013

In February, Jeff Bush was sitting in his bedroom when the earth suddenly and swiftly swallowed him whole. Florida earth is riddled with these underground lakes-turned-caves-turned black holes, which gulp down houses and sycamores like spaghetti noodles. The ground no safer than swiss cheese layered with grass, hunters’ dugouts designed as solid earth.

At times, my heart is a mapless minefield. One minute I’m sitting on a couch with my lover, and the next, I’m at the bottom of a well, staring at the distant moon of sky. Then all I know is limestone, earthworm, shadow. Broken bits of furniture, what was once a lamp. My lover’s calls echo their way down to me, but the world above ground is too heaven in this earth. I lose track of my own name as I sit among the buried things, feel their black shapes, cut my hands on the bones, wonder at what terrible beasts left behind such thorny remains.

5/30: Sort of Work

Posted by on Apr 08 2013

It is the first real spring day of the year
in a place where winter is as spiteful
as I am. And I am at work, two hours
past Friday, knowing the need for sleep
almost as real as deadlines. Finally,

I drag myself from sleepwalk’s
sinkhole and leave, lists and listless
duty hanging off my elbows. Outside:
yellow light, barbecue smoke, a guy
singing on the corner, and I feel

nothing. High schoolers with bright
backpacks and loud jokes crowding
the bus; and I am not full, nor filled
with hunger for more. I am a tube of
toothpaste squeezed dry. Muscles

in my back are a packs of wolves,
an ache I cannot outrun. Tell me
why my calves hurts after so much sit
and still and dull crises clanging around
the aquarium walls. Tell me, what sort

of work is this? Where the body pays
for the sins of the mind, its vanities
and obsessions? Oh, work– urgent
to everything but my own salvation,
without even the holiness of sweat.

4/30: Last Bus

Posted by on Apr 05 2013

While reading over my poem, I miss
a few stops on the 22 and have to walk

down the main artery of the post-
industrial West End: Bucklin Street,

a ghost town re-gifted to this city.
Somewhere past Bellevue and before

the old peanut factory I hear footsteps
from an alley and start tingling like

warfront– until the soft click of heels
waves me along. I am always ready

with battle cries but can’t lift my sword
without both hands and a podium. I am

too grenade with my protest, anger
targetless and everywhere at once–

useless. Fifteen minutes later, the only
blow Bucklin tosses at my feet is

a few words out the window of an old
Camry. Which might sound like treason

if I were a queen panning the river
for mutiny. Twenty minutes later,

I arrive at my boyfriend’s house,
unattacked again. This discomfort,

not quite sexy enough to be called
survivor’s guilt– just my souring fear

spilling out over the sides, a quiet and
shameful vomit staining my cheeks.

3/30: Offerings

Posted by on Apr 05 2013

Found poem from the Providence Poetry Slam open mic, April 4th, 2013

Remember watching the towers,
blue memories, old bench. Now
your absence is circling my feet.
The years haven’t left my body.
Hoping there is enough me left
to blossom, fistfuls of yes til the
ink runs dry– if only the dregs
of anger. I am a wind of asphalt
left fighting all the wrong wars.
Quick to dispute flesh. I grave-
rob tragedy. Caption my petty
crimes as a throne. But solitude
is a charitable toxin. Breath: a
maddening peace. So I listen
as all my casualties are lassoed
around my inhale. They owe me
nothing. But how loud: to love
like steel on steel on bone.

2/30: Reasons It’s Important to Rest

Posted by on Apr 03 2013

Some mornings I wake up to half-dreamt
train cars running amuck between my ears
screaming me to work. Lopsided engines
scattering chug. Rats. Fleeing the corners
of my consciousness. Go dog Go dog Go.

Leaf. Leaf. Haul seed back to hive. Feed
worms. Tick tick on their translucent wails.
Ward off hunter. Pass food, a utilitarian
kiss. Cross examine. Dig tunnel. Border
patrol. Haul green back to breathe.

The world will never stop being urgent.
High tide at rush hour. There are
strict minima to keep sprinting. Movement
constant. Dishes crashing everywhere. Viruses
to feed. Obsessed with cancer. Battlefronts.

What joy is a half-baked dream? What lark
is a broken camera? What fault in the unborn
astronaut? What never in the sky undoven? Blue
prints buried in the attic dumpster? Why
cross the river if not history?

Point A and Point B walk into a bar.
B downs ten shots of whiskey and dies prompt
and proud. A sweeps the floor and whistles
until. Becomes owner of whole town’s secrets
but never learns how not to live.

The secret to dying is to breathe unconditionally.
I stretch out my hide to catch all the trees
in the world. Let each limb become its own
fairy tale. Come, sun. Lather yourself against
my eyelids. I’ll hold all your terrific ugly.

1/30: Listen Children

Posted by on Apr 01 2013

Aaaaaall right. Here goes my attempt at doing a 30/30 during what’s going to be a stupid-busy month. We’ll see how far I get. (Sorry, no disclaimers. Oh, except that this blog is a non-commercial, personal journal to be used for educational or research purposes only. “Fair use” is claimed under U.S. copyright law, sections 107 and 108. No commercial use is permitted without the consent of the copyright holder.)


Listen Children
after Lucille Clifton
keep this hidden where flashlights latex
gloves will not go . beneath the last layer
beneath sidewalk camera whistles beneath
tongue clamps beneath laugh tracks : we
have never been foreign to our selves .
strange perhaps illogical unreliable story
tellers yes but never foreign . never extra
terrestrial never not earth . we have
only been moons angler fish shadows
even but always in the first person
singular ( / plural ) always first in line
to our own truth . always our own sun
orbiting our own hearts first no matter
whose ships stumbled into the dance . we
a million flashlights cameras tongues
to burn burn burn the sky our selves .