Lethal injection

the ugly stares you in the face when Utah
still shoots them with rifles instead of needles

stares you in the face tongue out when you take
to the woman who spent a $202.22 counterfeit check at Walmart
the plea offer:

who explains you’re my public defender as she tells you
you’re the first person she’s telling that she’s leaving her boyfriend
and folds the skin of your belly around her small body
to listen to the muffled plinks of your typing

revulsion is the slime diamond that is your core

there is a way                you say as your gut throws itself in and out of your mouth
to not do any time        you smooth the skin of your lap
the way                          you say
is to agree to never have children

you may have the blank in the fusillade

the trick is to shoot between heartbeats
when you’re your stillest

the bang may be a water bead hitting the air conditioner
you may be the highest rain cloud in the sky

You Li is a lawyer and poet who was born in Beijing and lives in New York. Her poems appear in Lunch Ticket, Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s the Margins, The BOILER, Poetry South, and elsewhere. She has received support from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.