Halloween Redux by Stella Yin-Yin Wong


In my photo there you are
girl, where you going

wearing that Trojan
centurion helmet

& wielding a trash can

We vow to never have sex
& our empire never goes down

on us like the past
empires. After a shot

which goes down smooth, you have
stuffed the embossed

helmet under your shirt,
as if smuggling his baby

robot dolls, medical diplomas & heavy
Mont-blanc pens

is the closest to hugging
& likewise shiny gifts

as only you can get.
As if stealing our IDs

gives you some face
value when we come to

you, lost. You tell us how
your doctor trash-talks, frames you

as asexual & crazy & even worse, poor
& we spin a webMD

diagnosis into fine compliment—
with bi-polar you’ve taken over

the whole world. How magnetic
you are, when you show off

your knees for the first time
forgiven by scars.

Let’s toast to
us, the Last Triumvirate.

Your therapist has
eyes the exact shade of

vodka, never gives you a second shot
like we know how to do.

We know how to dance
to your maniac tune, stirring up

dust from the costume’s
plumes. When we sneeze, you say you would

bless us but we’ve already been
with your presence, all disco, smoke &

three colognes. We are up
to our own devices, trumpeting

like Prometheus, what hell-colored
colonizer’s hat we stole.

Let’s be our own kings,
prom or drag.

If we’re your other halves,
that makes you more than

in your photo, taken

after you admitted
us breaking

in the door—
you’re half

we don’t know

beyond the frame. It is you
we are always in the process of winning

back, braced not by dagger nor bone
but the blood-red feathers

we carried back.


Stella Yin-Yin Wong is a first-generation immigrant and a Chinese-American poet in the M.F.A program at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She grew up in New York City, studied for fifteen years as a classically trained concert pianist, and received her English BA from Harvard with a minor in Global Health and Health Policy. She is the winner of the 2018 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize judged by Danez Smith, and the 2016 Academy of American Poets University Prize. Wong was a recipient of a fellowship from the POETRY Foundation Incubator. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Narrative, Brooklyn Poets, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Tupelo Quarterly, and the LA Review of Books.