Rina Olsen

he says *t easy

he says *t easy sl*ps r*ght out of h*s mouth
pours off h*s tongue
splash*ng all over me
sta*ns my chopst*ck bones that show through
my glass-noodle transparent sk*n
he says *t easy r*pples *n h*s eyes
l*ke fly*ng ch*ps of metal
as a thousand p*ckaxes
work to lay a ra*lroad
only to have phantom steam eng*nes
sw*pe away the*r handpr*nts
just l*ke the smoke they spew
he says *t easy sewn *n h*s eardrums
l*ke the f*rst crackle of a f*re
set by callused wh*te hands
that burn a name *nto h*story
called the “Rock Spr*ngs Massacre”
and the blood and f*re and footpr*nts
were all the same color swallow*ng up September
and burn*ng any conv*ct*ons
to smok*ng ashes
he says *t easy scrawled on h*s m*nd
l*ke the sound of a co*n unpa*d
and a f*ne unsat*ated
rest*ng *n Y*ck Wo’s laundry shop
drown*ng *n the t*des of May 1886
he says *t easy tangled *n h*s ha*r
the sound of propaganda posters be*ng pr*nted
by the As*at*c Exclus*on League
and sorted by the dozen to be pasted
along the shells of segregated schools
he says *t easy wr*ggles *nto my stomach
and * open my mouth to g*ve h*m *t back
but my vo*ce *s co*led w*th*n 150 years
strangl*ng *t
restra*n*ng *t
keep*ng *t on a leash
but never m*nd
because as far as * know
there’s no *
the * has been om*tted
wherever * am concerned
for there never was no *

About the Author: Rina Olsen is a Korean-American high school sophomore based in Guam who is dedicated to stopping AAPI hate through her writing. She is a general editor for Cathartic Youth Literary Magazine, and her work has appeared in Jellyfish Review, Okay Donkey, Write the World Review, Months to Years, and elsewhere. Her debut novel, Third Moon Passing, is forthcoming from Atmosphere Press in late 2023. When she isn't writing, she can be found playing the piano, looking up obscure history facts, or admiring ink-wash paintings.