Bruce Lee's Fist is Cut Open by a Glass Bottle

We begin with the bone as it culls
a river to mouth, then zoom out,
and everything grows

into something else. Soon Bruce,
too, will zoom beyond
the green of Hollywood screens,

to take his place among the stars,
his body laid to rest beside
Nisei stolen in a war to be seen

as something
other than body. And what can be said
about that? It is 1973, my mother

still hears people scream Jap
as she walks down the street,
and my grandmother's name

will never be her own. But this
is not the story I meant to tell—
look at Bruce's bones,

giving to the flames in them
their marrow, like the hearts
of mangoes taking on fire

in the rubble of Chinatown
as it burns. This cremation,
this incineration, and no,

there is no phoenix incubation
there, nothing to rise
from ashes. The year is 1906,

then—San Francisco, not
reborn. And Bruce is still
the name of a future unclaimed,

a desire before the body
that fails it. His knuckle not yet
gashed passage, not open well,

not yet ready to stare him down,
no depth of death lodged
like a grain of rice in his skin.

And everyone
hasn't decided they want to be
like Bruce Lee. And we, with the face

of Bruce have not yet been reduced
to lean, mean, fighting Chinese.
But we're not there yet,

we're still lingering inside
this burning city, burning
like a body, blood swelling,

skin rising to lick the tip of that glass
mosquito, and in this body
there is nobody left

to shout. Because Bruce knows
his skin cannot help but kiss
the fists of men who despise him,

cannot help but burn crop circles
into its own grasses, cannot help
the way that just beneath

the surface, the Bruce's bruises
are collecting like pools of fire,
rising, right there, and simmering.

Kazumi Chin is the author of Having a Coke With Godzilla (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). His work has appeared in Split This Rock's Poem of the Week, Twelfth House, Barrelhouse Review, GlitterMOB, and elsewhere. He is an Arianator living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761