Iron Goddess of Mercy

Poetry by Larissa Lai
By LarissaLai
Iron Goddess of Mercy - Book Cover
Iron Goddess of Mercy by Larissa Lai, Arsenal Pulp Press (2021). Reprinted with permission.

Share Article


Dear Martyr, I lay my bod on the tracks that Jack built hacked by the sojourner uncles through territories Musqueam Stó:lō Stl'atl'imx Nlaka'pamux Secwépemc. I'm good ‘til I'm not ‘til the fear gets the better of me I claim the brain drain selfsame with a game of chess queen to bishop six and the door swings open to a phantasmagoric wonderland of waste the mushroom makes me tall and small too much and not enough as every orifice tells the truth squirting text and fluids the mammary wash of memory hemming and hawing at the border of sense. No fence on the same river twice as time circles my ankles the world snake liquid linking me to the blink of Sky Woman, Lee says we scattered across these Pacific territories kinning kind and unkind as the roll of the go and flow. What we share: everybody eats. But east of "Put it back the way you found it” we've mucked it, stuck in the loop of hot Chinese money another liquid link only real in the nimble fingers of Chinese girls fiddling fake flowers circuits needles numbers text sewing machines and dicks like there's no quick pick but the tao of the Dow cycling always back to the Nu Wa of my dreams. Maenad Martyr screams it, Dear Phoenix how many times can I reconstitute these damn ashes? Sad and had my moon bay stays waiting for the wolf at the door, taking score of the more and more I scream my dream and screen my preen hungry like the goof too tired to get fancy with the dance of the nonces. I rage in my cage the angriest woman awake in the iron box passing the pox the plague the tuberculosis to my grandfather for his insult to my grandmother after the death of her mother and sisters you dead TB ghost the intimate meanness of it as he takes scissors to the carefully fitted cheongsam she scrimped for and the hours of stitching to stave off grief the helpless greenness Dear Shrek what heck your love pegs me to the horror of her occupied body. Was his hat the imperial rapist's or did it come from my Hakka great-grandmother who paid the village boys to let him beat them up? Her determination to build a strong son protect the happy heart and hearth the roiling sum of oil son of toil harassed and harried by the rotating door of invaders? Dear Maenad Martyr, born on a bed of word nails, I love you for your ferocious hope and loyalty, full of fear you charge the door sword in one hand and a plate of chow mein in the other oh Virtuous Virgin, Iron Maiden, Goddess of Gold and Bitter Tea.

I stitch this cheongsam

At the border of sense mending Rifts

In space-time continuum


Dear Cheongsam, Whose flesh do you stitch when you insert your needle? She taught me how to wind fibre around steel, stitch the knot into silk or cotton, the bottom feeder of my education the language of thread. What dread? In another county women coded a whole language in new shoes, feet to earth as the twentieth century pitched a few rough diasporans kiting seeds into other dresses, we live both sides of the stitch, doubled over laughing ‘til we cry. Dear Girl Next Door, what stride would pride us? To opt self-comber before the cat of the hermeneut's gorilla? In a language made of thread mind matters shattering glass ceilings to shower us in real shards. My pard's got spots. I dot the rot with code to grow new critters from litter. I spit, I dither, flowers in a fluster as I muster movement to groove the pavement. Rita likes the grass that pushes up through the cracks but both the concrete and the buried roots are real. Don't wanna seal the deal and solidify the inside out. I pry, I spy, drink Canada Dry to slip the noose of untrustworthy and brink citizenship's uneven habit, Maenad's rabbit out the hoot of her magical top. Old Long Ears sprints the distance of our Long March while she inks a little blue in the starch to make our collars and sneakers whiter than white. Blue bunny chooses red pill swig a bit of moonshine for Chang O, exiled for the arrogance of doing the archer under. I blunder as Maenad shoots boosters for space on three two one zero, hero of the feral paring her latest garment down to garden's finest feather.

magpie chatter

awkward squawk

what grace your tail's blue shimmer

Larissa Lai
Larissa Lai is a writer, poet, and educator.
Rungh Redux Winner 2022 Award of Merit Innovative Practice
Rungh Redux Winner 2022 Award of Merit Innovative Practice
Britannia Art Gallery
Britannia Art Gallery
Bookhug Press
Bookhug Press
Plantation Memories
Plantation Memories
Alternator Centre