for my next magic trick i’ll make love out of these leftovers: Poetry by m. o. kng – First Place Winner of Solstice Contest

it’s Christmas morning and i’m alone.
a holiday to celebrate with myself: i stay in bed all day,
rise and sink with the sun. my brain wants me to give in:
let the sadness wrap me up, swallow me in one bite until 
someone knocks at the door. it’s Jenn from work, who knew
i would be alone today and brought me dinner.
when i unwrap the foil, the aroma of honey-glazed ham and prime rib
wraps its arms around me, sinks into my salty body
until my bones begin to melt with it.
they almost forgot how it felt to be embraced;
haven’t felt this kind of warmth in so long.
i carve a small piece of her gift off,
drown it in gravy, swallow as much of it as i can.
i still don’t know how to fully digest this idea, that
someone else loves me and i deserve it.
my brain grew up on the taste of diet depression; learned to
always take the low-calorie snack, never
ask for
too much. 
feeds itself on the taste of cheap pranks;
calls me at 1AM when i can’t fall asleep, tells me
your drawers are empty - just like your life.
your fridge is running and you’ll never catch up.
your stove is scheming when you look away - 
every house you manage to build
you will burn down
when you least expect it.
there’s always something on fire in my head:
but there are knocks at my door, too:
soup from the couple down the hall,
meat from a colleague’s big Filipino family,
peaches plucked from the tree in a student’s garden
at the height of June.
there is a bounty on my barren table,
a potluck of people around me,
friends, neighbors, loving strangers,
who feed me out of these feelings,
who teach me how to love myself when i forget how. 
now it’s a New Year but i’m still my old self; 
the things in my brain, in my house, in my fridge, are all the same.
lucky for me that leftovers keep well.
Jenn’s pan sits in the fridge: fed me 
all through the coldest weeks of the winter.
now there’s one piece of steak left
I chop into little scraps of love,
take to the stove,
try to turn into something good.
m.o. kng

m.o. kng is a Korean American writer, performer, and educator. he grew up in Southern California, raised by Korean American evangelicals, caring mentors, and Internet friends from far and wide. as m.o. grew older, reading and writing grew into outlets then commitments towards healing and justice. in college, they stumbled into spoken-word poetry, studied the history of K-pop, and interned with the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence. his experiences motivated them to self-publish their first book, speech therapy, in 2017. right now, m.o. lives in the Bay Area teaching high school English, hanging out at the rock climbing gym and curating an incredible collection of frozen meals. you can find more of their work at mokng.com!

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