By Timothy Liu b. 1965 Timothy Liu
How long will the bed that we made together
hold us there? Your stubbled cheeks grazed my skin
from evening to dawn, a cloud of scattered
particles now, islands of shaving foam
slowly spiraling down the drain, blood drops
stippling the water pink as I kiss
the back of your neck, our faces framed inside
a medicine cabinet mirror. The blade
of your hand carves a portal out of steam,
the two of us like boys behind frosted glass
who wave goodbye while a car shoves off
into winter. All that went unnoticed
till now — empty cups of coffee stacked up
in the sink, the neighborhood kids
up to their necks in mounds of autumn leaves.
How months on a kitchen calendar drop
like frozen flies, the flu season at its peak
followed by a train of magic-markered
xxx’s — nights we’d spend apart. Death must work
that way, a string of long distance calls
that only gets through to the sound of your voice
on our machine, my heart’s mute confession
screened out. How long before we turn away
from flowers altogether, your blind hand
reaching past our bedridden shoulders
to hit that digital alarm at delayed
intervals — till you shut it off completely.

Timothy Liu, “Winter” from Burnt Offerings. Copyright © 1995 by Timothy Liu. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Source: Burnt Offerings (Copper Canyon Press, 1995)

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Poet Timothy Liu b. 1965

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Love, Desire, Romantic Love, Relationships

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Timothy  Liu


The son of Chinese immigrants, poet Timothy Liu was born in San Jose, California, and earned a BA at Brigham Young University and an MA at the University of Houston. He spent two years as a missionary in Hong Kong, though he no longer practices Mormonism. Liu counts as early mentors Welsh poet Leslie Norris, poet Richard Howard, and writer Gordon Lish.

Paying attention to formal constraints such as syllabics, Liu’s poetry . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Love, Desire, Romantic Love, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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