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Poem: "On The Night Of The Election" By Franny Choi

"Is there anything that works / that isn’t a machine for killing, / or doomed to collapse, or stolen / from the sweat of the hungry?"

Posted on April 20, 2017, at 12:07 p.m. ET

I tried to touch myself

in the hotel room

when the bar closed

before I’d had enough,

while, on the news

stations I never watch because

everyone talks too loud

and doesn’t seem all that

bothered by the state

of things, everyone

was giving up

hope of a brand I’d

never cared much for

anyway, wanting to be cold-

blooded and over all that

hopey-changey stuff,

wanting not to believe

in a broken thing, broken

on purpose, I know, to keep

my loved ones drowning

or dead. I wasn’t numb

exactly, under the covers, naked,

touching the linoleum sheets

with all of my skin, everything

close and far away at once,

like my labia were on the other side

of a glass door, my clitoris dull-

eyed and dumb when I asked

for proof I was an animal

that would still wriggle

when prodded. I guess

it’s an old question:

is there anything that works

that isn’t a machine for killing,

or doomed to collapse, or stolen

from the sweat of the hungry?

Maybe my body was all three,

there, in the hotel room,

liquor-shot and reaching

in every direction

for an answer,

a complete sentence, or,

if nothing else, an exit,

a view, at least, of what

waits on the other side

of despair, but my pussy

that night was playing the part

of another wall, another sky

to trace and trace with no

response, another blank

beast whose name we’ve

long forgotten, or who dies

in a day. All this is to say

I didn’t even get close.

I called and called

and nothing came.

I had a body, and

it refused to rise for work.

To sing for the new

old country, to sing

so I could weep and feel

a little clean. So I

uncurled my wrists, pulled

the darkness over

my head, and slept

like a rock, or a man

that’s dead.


Eileen Meny

Franny Choi is the author of collection Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014) and the chapbook Death by Sex Machine (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017.) She has received awards and fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, Kundiman, and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. She is an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan, founder of the Brew & Forge Book Fair, and a member of the Dark Noise Collective.

  • Picture of Franny Choi

    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 has received awards and fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, Kundiman, and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. She is an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan, founder of the Brew & Forge Book Fair, and a member of the Dark Noise Collective.

    Contact Franny Choi at saeed.jones+PoetFrannyChoi@buzzfeed.com.

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