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The Road of Big Mouths

is the home of languages.
Down here are soft-cornered

roots we dig with fingerlings,
braise with say-waters; where

mouthings ripple dull-thud earth
and fill up trenches.

Rainbows slap a blue-eyed
sky on straight kinetics.

We were learning this in class:
when a color knows a color;

when a cloud may dance
with groans before it rumbles.

In a wilderness of kisses,
the eyes dance blind;

suck for syrups with cupped
hands from a sugar tree.

Open mouths of yellow teeth
comb the glossolalic wheat

and chime the throats
of neon reed

while brook lines babble
through our feet.


Yanyi is a poet and critic. In 2018, he won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, awarded by Carl Phillips, for his first book, The Year of Blue Water (Yale University Press 2019). Currently, he is an associate editor at Foundry. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the Asian American Writers Workshop as well as Poets House.


See full list of 2015 Emerging Poets Fellows