Star Sings Her Lament

by Crystal Yeung


Tofu Lovers

Please, eat as much as you’d like

We don’t need motivation.

A good girl isn’t me  

so what is a fellow daughter 

than bodies between my excessed hips

to cloud the ceiling with sex,

weather & compression, 

to spread a meal I can gorge on. 

Every body is willing prey in my hands,

mild-mannered curds crumbled

under a pressured spoon,

a recipe more devout than breakfast 

that my private body contributes

to every living body,

undressed between bamboo bed boards.


Yesterday I held a man’s bright pulse 

in my sweaty hand,

the gelatin unhurriedly swallowed;

tonight, syruped black bean eyes gobbled up 

my damp dessert with her iris & teeth: 

woman & man served in one vessel,

mortar & pestle grounded to hunger. 

Hallowed are the hulls in the moons of daughter’s nails, 

hallowed are their pores locked in milk smell.  


Every lover opens my ribcage like a cupboard 

to find the heart’s maple vein.


Bak Bak’s ears are heavy hung with empress gold,

drooping tangerines from ends of white hair 

into a young Brooklyn river.

Her years are lacquered in salt, my Bak Bak. 

She hoards lovingly, tang & spice,

chili & tendon, soft-boiled eggs 

over rice in a crushed styrofoam box that 

she waits with every 3:45 school day.

Such a mystery, those ivoried sticks

marrowed out by years. In this act, 

inheritance & survival are in a bowl 

pushed into a pitless stomach,

a tree pushing roots to break concrete, 

& a young mouth opening its sky to the cloven fruit.

Survival Recipe

I was born from mud & water,
this skin mapped by ancestral 
blood & flooded earth. 
I am plum-puckered & sunwarmed
bones, as my mother had brewed me, 
a congealing star in her bright 
luminous hands sending caravans
of hungry men constellating 
through the atmosphere. The hearth is 
the only lucence fed by pine needles
keeping the wild out. She snaps them |
bird-like, without hesitation, wings unfurling 
not from death but discipline, 
She carves these cheekbones with 
spoons, gorges of ivory so deep and full we can 
wax another eclipse. I dance not stumble into 
this love, luxuriant and careful, to kiss the feet of 
godhood that’s so blood close. 

A Butterfly Unwilling

If bodies ever 

lift from rooms,

a peeled cranium

to offer a pink sack 

to the sky,

we would see the actual smallness 

of kings or how fire 

can sometimes feel cold. 

Often in my loneliness,

I am accompanied by

invisible storms 

eking out from the eyes,

every version of me  

praying to a god 

sleeping in the ceiling,

only breaking

during the day’s 


sweat breaking surface pores.

I wonder how I’m fated,

how goddesses sit by machines 

cranking out stories for us,

or how Ban Zhao smiles on me

because I’m thunderstruck 

with greatness at youth,

dodging Death like 

Ali dodging beestings, 

because the reaper’s bell is a torch

I refuse to hear.

The only song is survival

of my clanswomen’s blood:

one hundred 

generations to get here,

two hundred bowls of

simmering soups swallowed to get further. 

Couldn’t we eat the world,

dig into the pistil of the earth? 

Couldn’t we be 

a god’s handful of 



unwilling to die in the winter?


Writer’s BIO:

Crystal Yeung is a poet with an MFA in Poetry from the College of New Rochelle. She holds a BA in English literature and was a part of the CCNY Language & Literacy MA program. Her writing is published or forthcoming in Rabbit Catastrophe Review, Poets & Writers, Perigee, and descant. She is a recipient of Poets & Writers Amy Award, serves as committee member for the PEN Prison Writing Program, and is Reviews Editor for Apogee Journal.