21 Lessons in the Art of Embouchure by Cynthia Dewi Oka

1. There are right and wrong ways to put your mouth around the void in the metal.
2. The mother is a hidden compound.
3. The mother is a king, lonely and grey, whose crown of matches is alive.
4. Prepare for harrow and beauty. Their digressions.
5. A coastline, littered by boats and the dark dirt of desire, is battered by the notion of universality.
6. Blue and green, like a seam of locusts, intent that no grain of sand should escape what they cannot eat.
7. Of its own realm. Where the disc is chipped, it skips, repeating the same please.
8. Like a history of brokenness.
9. Holding her own hand, the king hurries past the sea.
10. A billion hind legs rubbing. This is how God is composed.
11. Past the white arches of whales, toward the garden’s sanity, where someone is coming.
12. Someone is coming is the hook of the song. I believed it, with the strength of insects, the strength of kings.
13. The boy abandoned to sunflowers makes his horn by mutilating his bowl.
14. They are not so different from each other. Beauty and harrow. King and sunflower.
15. The universal is hard of hearing.
16. The mouth is a void (a compound of God) that makes promises, such as, I am coming, while the mother’s belly-dome, metallic, shines with questions.
17. Was I clear enough, loud enough, unmistakable, sweet enough?
18. The boy’s blue lips are a digression. They bleed now, around the hole music makes.
19. Even light is suspended like a hooked fish in the hard, jeweled air.
20. Dowse your head.
21. Between the hidden and the shut doors.
Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of Salvage: Poems (Northwestern University Press, 2017) and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water (Thread Makes Blanket, 2016). Her work has appeared in ESPNW, Hyperallergic, Guernica, Scoundrel Time, Academy of American Poets, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere. She is a contributor to the anthologies Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism (OR Books, 2018); Who Will Speak for America? (Temple University Press, 2018); and What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump (Northwestern University Press, 2019). With community partner Asian Arts Initiative, she created Sanctuary: A Migrant Poetry Workshop for immigrant poets in Philadelphia. She has received scholarships from VONA and the Vermont Studio Center, the Fifth Wednesday Journal Editor’s Prize in Poetry, and the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and is originally from Bali, Indonesia.