Personal ambition: Have my own style of music. See my mother again.—Jimi Hendrix, in a survey for the UK publication New Musical Express
A psychedelic voodoo priest sacrificing still-humming heartstrings on a pyre demanding god fire like that burns too bright too fast never lasts except in memory Can you see your mother? So young she was and you splintered like your guitar chasing fire burning your throat like a scream shot memory The memorial—your father gave a shot of whiskey said this is how men deal men burn down ashes to ashes are all ash and hurt Your father like my father said I guess you justa child can’t let go of what’s pastI don’t owe you Listen heart crackle fire sparks on train tracks rushing Mama’s body cold barely four months and he thinks to marry This is how men deal You learned too well pour another round turn ashes to smoke forget this cold inheritance
Jenny Qi is the author of the debut poetry collection Focal Point, winner of the 2020 Steel Toe Books Poetry Award. Her essays and poems have been published in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Tin House, Rattle, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere, and she has received fellowships from Tin House, Omnidawn, Kearny Street Workshop, and the San Francisco Writers Grotto. Born in Pennsylvania to Chinese immigrants, she grew up mostly in Las Vegas and Nashville and now lives in San Francisco, where she completed her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology. She is working on more essays and poems and translating her late mother’s memoirs of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and immigration to the U.S.