From Your Face My Flag

Julian Gewirtz


Arrival at Container Port, est. 1842

What are you after,
cumulus homing in
this one afternoon

in the old treaty port,
Guangzhou, cargoes
Audi Tesla Rolex

Hermès—I won’t ask you
to give me thoughts
of me, just this

portable colony’s
cardboard skin
where it’s torn into

and taped up. A guard
walks below the
flags on the gangway. Do

you detect—smell—this
fishless water, floes
of styrofoam thrown

overboard and my
hair black like a
screen turned off,

also that smooth—
will you touch it again,
your finger unlocking

home screen this far
from home, any
translators, middlemen

like us hungering down
between the high containers,
protocols, secret treaties

every stinging night—
its dark locks thick
from the scalp of the day

shorn off after only
six hours. That’s dawn.

Fragment: Not About Love

Someday the scientists will devise
a way for me to hold

you without even needing
to walk across the room.

It will take practice.
The empire of discipline,

cold and heavy. Empire
of the unnaturally clean,

fluorescent night, an engine
starting in the distance.

Far off in the distance.

Julian Gewirtz is the author of the poetry collection Your Face My Flag (Copper Canyon Press, October 2022). His poems appear in the Best American Poetry, Boston Review, Lambda Literary, The Nation, NarrativeThe New Republic, Yale Review, and elsewhere. He is also the author of two books on the history of modern China, including Never Turn Back: China and the Forbidden History of the 1980s (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2022).


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