The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2018

All Issues
MAR 2018 Issue




HK Standard

a translation of “American Standard” by Nicholas YB Wong, Superstition Review, Fall 2012

eyes darken evening into oil,
black milk of unhuman wickedness. Tapping
one foot of the market, fish heads & lights. Music
cruised & cursed. Umbrellas: out.
Music. We make. Music. Synchronous
in time, diachronic. There’s a spot Lady Macbeth’s
oil-stained hands, pants. Hot damn she’s
the stalker. Hot damn she’s seeking the weight.
Umbrellas! Oil swishing down urinals.
Oil! Hot oil, golden & beholden. Greed
for porcelain touch. Only Hong Kong
Standard. Approach & be unsexed.
Sd. wish for nonbiological sticky
marzipan machine. & to that, bao
down. Bao filled w. oil & that sorry
spot on our lady’s garbadine. That bend
spills soft. That bend, vicious
& viscus. Umbrellas lean on the wall.
Bodies speak to bodies & walls.
When arms from the oil reach,
only hands seem ordinary. When that touch,
that’s oil, the carbonized kindness kind.





peaches bring a long life | flowers give eternal fragrance

submit to rigorous military training

red flowers blossom on the former battleground

i paint pictures that represent the childhoods of my parents | my grandparents & myself




yr Polis A census reports exclusive

3:19it has to do w the parents & children of Polis B who harvest their crops in this

3:22polis of ours the best polis on earth—

3:26is—are—the forgotten people

3:27under the undertow the underfoot—

3:33we Polis A present this report

3:35of thanksgiving bc work not for the labor

3:38of the people you are going to meet—

3:40you might not start

3:42but yr table wd not be laden w the luxuries that we have all come to

3:46regard as a central

3:48we shd like you to meet some of yr fellow citizens of Polis A who have this before—

3:52or the best polis on earth

3:57this is an old lady solid

3:59or the exodus of Polis B has its beginning every year




yr Polis A automatic

so we went to school

was language spoke

Polis B

though Polis A language in order

so you want to school speaking on the


Polis A how did that


can’t remember past

starting Polis A school

our caller Polis A

Polis A

autopilot mortage financial life

all-pro . . . big league

what did you notice that school terms of

the languages these

what .o..ld C.a..i. did you notice

anything this

Polis A forty dash everything’s tied

it’s slightly more class that’s bigly

subversion on one of the law

one of the redirection tried a future of

Polis A cohort

clerk abortion forward to Polis A from Polis B

crystals hurdle her work

microscopes you find a car wreck


chivalry shorn called record

but look great uses

first for trade

they’re not occur—Carlos—

for corporate readership corner

you open the door—

Polis A looks great—

will go where the hole where—

trip uproar

apart after work at home opera

called Rashad—

sure drones course for rehire

luxury literal—

lunchtime reduction combat report abt

Polis B

go directly—

microcode talk—

local crack logo or—or—

quatro pro where aircraft relocated or—or—

perk he elected to draw upon that you

what was that the other kids who had to

do that as well

she wanted to

what he did you get only Polis B

it was not a chilled in the class to

didn’t speak

golfing trip—

props for global

after a while Polis A pioneer—

Shiitake—abt to launch a comment for

people coral hopeful by lunch award

medical treatment at all—

which will run—

how long that happened for

a powerful bomb—

five months

happens to yr Polis B-hind it

starts school here you’d speak Polis Alish

what abt yr family—

no going to see that nobody

she starts more useful concern—

when i was little something early on so

i did read

matter too much to me but—

living bc—

nice teacher needlessly despondent—

& i think she was biting acts as

bilingual & she got me in that bag—

issue Polis A like me have something to

surface future Polis B kidnappers teaching

do you what you want to do—


everybody else’s—

was speaking to speak & i went in bc

yr talk—

not going to be done

soliciting that they were doing

& i was in a different polis on the

other side again—

told me & then i wd tell us tonight

are you going to the polis—

Polis B teen moms—

speaking people in

at both the Polis A border may be different in

olympics thing to us—

people that came out here—

so i just want to be—

no one & two

blue book we will be read Polis B dialect—

became a school

route that you still read to you know


i studied attorney—

so that you can be—

didn’t use it for you—

risk using to you—my accent—yes—

it was confusing to me at first—

bc of all these—

is still close in on a project stuff—

that kids have to talk to the kids that

you know—

the you seem to like it’s not only talk

to you in the Polis A—

i wd listen—today—will close & see

what they were Bs i wd say that—

working what the trading bc

what they were talking abt

point is figure out what they were

saying in Polis A

& i think that we had that you can

invest grasp a different language—

yr citizens speak their language—

that might help me ‘cause i was younger

what are yr parents think abt you

Polis A citizens we narcotize for yr safety

Polis A marines—

they liked it—

they were v. happy w it

Polis B denizens they have a happy life bc i wd help

make that sometimes & i wd—

peace now—

thank you arms & order

directions on them

bomb bomb bomb

walls walls walls

insects attack different these nine

law & order law & order

appealing to the store in the house Polis A of

the bc by sending you wd have to—

ask you helas acap on that crap

& yr Polis A hands clap clap

bc it was my sister she-de-de—

unity—they cd at that good—

& i bet he was in his own their own


side as i was only one day—

allegedly destroyed nine alcoa happening

painted pain on staff—

data testing i guess

Polis A select

caption & press

up or down

to adjust its timing

& left or right

to change the duration



Steven Alvarez

Steven Alvarez is the author of The Codex Mojaodicus, winner of the 2016 Fence Modern Poets Prize. He has also authored the novels in verse The Pocho Codex (2011) and The Xicano Genome (2013), both published by Editorial Paroxismo, and the chapbooks, Tonalamatl, El Segundo’s Dream Notes (2017, Letter [r] Press), Un/documented, Kentucky (2016, winner of the Rusty Toque Chapbook Prize), and Six Poems from the Codex Mojaodicus (2014, winner of the Seven Kitchens Press Rane Arroyo Poetry Prize). His work has appeared in the Best Experimental Writing (BAX), Berkeley Poetry Review, Fence, Huizache, The Offing, and Waxwing. Follow Steven on Instagram @stevenpaulalvarez and Twitter @chastitellez.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2018

All Issues