At the height of it, mid-practice,
I stepped into the bathtub
holding a metronome to my chest,

blasted cold water.

When you found me, you pulled me out
dripping wet




Your voice, a trickle of sparks in the leaves.

Simon, you cannot play Mozart with your mouth closed, cannot heal a bruise 
in the dark.

Your tears when I lost a fight,
your tears when I won—

the cut my shin left on the other man’s face,
bone deep.

From the ring, I searched the audience
for your face—a window
scarred with rain.

Simon, is there no lie you will not believe? No paradise you will not run to?

After the first concussion, I played a song
not even I recognized,

wrapped tape around my wrists, gauze
over my knuckles, spread Vaseline 
across my forehead.

I drew the curtains, squeezed blood 
from the air.




Mornings you opened letters with your back
to the window, told me milk spilled on a winter jacket
is a bad omen. The best advice

you ever gave me: a bird
that escaped its cage every night 
and returned every morning.

Simon, why do you want so badly
to hurt people?

One evening I found you lying on the kitchen floor,
your back thrown out,
and called for my father.

I watched him fold your arms
over your stomach, measure the silence
between your heartbeats.

I said nothing
as he wrapped you in black silk
like a violin.

Simon Shieh is a poet, essayist, and educator living in Beijing. A lifelong martial artist, Simon competed in his first professional Muay Thai fight at seventeen years old in Shanghai. The day before he turned twenty-one, Simon suffered his first and only loss by knockout in Brazil. Soon after, he turned away from fighting and found poetry. The work of Jericho Brown, Eduardo Corral, Louise Glück, Terrance Hayes, Ocean Vuong, Lucie Brock-Broido, and many others opened the doors for his poems.