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 Simon Simon Simon 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. Simon Simon Simon 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.