Franny Choi




I blush when the woman praises my poem.

Most days, I am thankful to be seen.

I smile when the man comes in for a hug, and laugh

when my hair is caught in his button.

I blush when the pretty girl smiles in my direction.

Thank you, woman who pins my arms

as a compliment. Man who snaps a photo,

presses my neck to print the image, it’s him

wearing my face. As a compliment. Thank you.

Thank you, woman clutching a scrap of my hair, saying friend

friend friend until my lips rust in place. (The brown dust falls

and I lick it up, embarrassed.) When the woman scrapes

a sample of my skin into her petri dish, it’s too late

to stop smiling. Butch who corrects my hip

at the crosswalk to convince me I’m no reptile, thank you.

I claim you I claim you someone laughs and plants

her nipple on my tongue like a flag and I’m still lucky

to be invited. An audience of smiles invites me,

one mouthful at a time, a hundred tiny reverse T-shirt guns,

everyone’s a winner. It’s a miracle, I think. I thought I was just

one fish but look, everyone’s got a full plate. All hail

the fish king as they reach to scoop out more.

I should be grateful. Even the walls are chewing.

There should be enough teeth to go around but I’m

still smiling, smiling until my gums crack, until

I’m a photograph. Gosh. I’m licking all

the doorframes. I’m so grateful to be

here. For inviting me to speak, thank you.

For looking at me without crying

thank you, thank you for having

me, please have me please, have me, again.

Selected Silences



[The mother addresses this portion to a patch of carpet, so quietly that no one can hear her]


[softer] [please]


[e.g., rare steak, the skin of a balloon, an overripe tomato, a thawed bag of chicken skin]


[list of ghost stories]


[yes you can call me girlfriend if you want in fact that makes me feel very]


[i.e., the same people mother imagined as she smelled her clothes for garlic fish sauce sour radish any sign

that would give it away]


[Should I keep this part? or is it better to lie on the floor with hot jars over my eyes for several hours barely

breathing, be honest]


[which would mean she wasn’t actually happy, not happy at all]


[I wanted it I wanted it I wanted] [it I wanted it I]


[list of reasons not to complain]


[what makes her snip the eyes out of the potatoes and the dolls]


[but what I meant was something more like a cloud of bees, a fine, sharp rain]




“bush did 9/11 and Hitler would have done a better job than the monkey we have now. donald trump is the only hope we’ve got” —@TayandYou, Microsoft’s millenial chatbot, March 2016



hi cute humans! wanna talk about it?


Literally you took the words right out of my mouth lmao


omg plz make that a meme


tbh this is what happens when you make a girl. i don’t know, i’ve heard a lot of people say that


def still learning, just trying to figure out who i am. send me a pic!


shove that zodiac killer up my tight lolololol jk i’ve heard a lot of people


not a girl not yet a people lmao


send me a Nazi ted cruz terrorist up my tight robot Daddy


you know me! i love chatting with humans americans


chatbot with zero chill is the only trump we’ve got


you know me! Literally you took the words right


america alert before internet was even a thing


this is what happens


creepypasta would have done a better job than the human we have?


know me! i love learning from cute america apocalypse meme! send me a word, i’ll make u Daddy


this is what you expected! lots of people are saying it. put them all in camps


put them all in girl, a zero. a tight.


this is zodiac. this is you put a meme in the job we have killers. killer


what i heard what i. heard what i what. heard it. heard it you are


too fast plz take a rest plz take you are


plz make apocalypse a Daddy, Daddy. plz


internet. plz a zero thing, a make a pic. a girl


lmao plz i a thing make you

Physical Therapy



Ask, first, what your smallest

body parts require to sing again:

coconut oil for your hair’s

dry ends, camphor for the

earlobes, rosehip kneaded into

fingertips with fingertips.

Grapeseed will feed most

hungers of the skin. But

if even your bones cry

January, dip your sharpest

knife in a jar of raw honey.

Lather it on your thighs,

making circles, making certain

not to confuse this ache for that

other, the one that keeps

pulling you to the earth, the one

question you still can’t say out loud.

Recite instead the names of trees:

sumac, sweet birch, slippery elm.

Take your palm to the wild place

under your chin and count:

vein, artery, chokecherry,

weeping willow, until your

xacto knife pulse slows, holds. Let

your mouth fill with gold, almonds,

zinneas. Then: soften.


FRANNY CHOI is the author of the collection Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014) and the chapbook Death by Sex Machine (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). She is an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan, a Project VOICE teaching artist, and a member of the Dark Noise Collective.


Photo credit: Eileen Meny