Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 7 • Fall 2003 • Featured Writer • Poetry

Before the Last Dance

Ryka Aoki de la Cruz

I do not deserve to be saved, for
I am not in love with salvation.
My lovers fold like old
newspapers, converse like a car
with a broken radio.

They stumble in old sneakers
that no longer match any outfits,
or even any sports.

Their kitchen cabinets are slashed
where they danced with malt liquor
and butcher knives.

No one who loves me
should handle cutlery
while beholding the cosmos.

I am a fish who appreciates
a good fish stick.
Murder me, and part of me
is your partner in sin.
My anger comes from every second
you cannot see the lotus, rising

from the silt, the offal. Believe.
When the radio and the dharma
and the blood have not become one,
dig your nails into my forearms,
your teeth deep into my thigh.

My lover took 48 years
to put on a lipstick and dress,
and for the rest of his life
will know what it means
to be beautiful. Believe.

Break our wine glass and
fill it with hope. As a fragment
opening to candlelight.

Ryka Aoki de la Cruz

Ryka Aoki de la Cruz is a transgendered goth dyke with a second degree black belt in Kodokan Judo, a University Award from the Academy of American Poets, and a Gothic dancing prize. Her work has appeared most recently in Beyond the Valley of Contemporary Poets, Girlchick.com, Liquidgothic.com, Southern Poetry Review, Rising, and Tsur. Ryka has work forthcoming in the anthology Poetry is Not a Luxury: Poems by L.A. Women of Color. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University, is a founder of Cornell University's Asian American Playhouse, and was coach of Cornell's 1990 Ivy League Judo Championship Team. She has worked with the American Society of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors, and two of her compositions have been adopted by the group as its official "Songs of Peace." Ryka has been featured at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles Poetry Festival. She performed at ForWord Girls and Intercourse -- A Sex and Gender Recipe for Revolution, in San Francisco, Cliterati in Atlanta, Not the Vagina Monologues in Los Angeles and Gen Estro in Minneapolis. She teaches writing at Santa Monica College. For more, visit rykaryka.com.

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