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Two Poems

 

Autoclonography

 

for performance

 

In 1998, scientists in South Korea claimed to have successfully

cloned a human embryo, but said the experiment was interrupted very

early when the clone was just a group of four cells. In 2002, Clonaid,

part of a religious group that believes humans were created by extra-

terrestrials, held a news conference to announce the birth of what it

claimed to be the first cloned human, a girl named Eve. However, de-

spite repeated requests by the research community and the news media,

Clonaid never provided any evidence to confirm the existence of this

clone or the other twelve human clones it purportedly created.

—National Human Genome Research Institute, “Cloning Fact Sheet”

 

1.

the sonographic fetus is a cyborg—clonograph—dear future clones you are multiple—to use the letter s to make more of someone—to use the letter s to make a very small silent black river—into which many babies have been borne away—and into the river under the river—the black ocean under the blue ocean—catacombs of bones of those delivered unto the shore beneath the shore—as men of God from Spain and the Spain beneath Spain—arrived with their ships of death beneath death—the world under this world that outnumbers this world

 

2.

dear future clones I love you more—than I love myself because there are more of you—than there are of me although I am your mother—and your sister and your ancestor—and look in the mirror at your young face—and look behind you at my olding face—and you can do something only prophets can do—which is to see into the future—Τειρεσίας / Tiresias killed two snakes with a stick—Hera punished him and changed his sex—he was turned into a woman—he served Hera as a priestess, he got married to a man and had children—when he came upon two snakes again he decided to leave them alone—it broke the curse—he was turned back into a man

 

3.

to love the word offspring—to spring from a trap to spring from jail—sperkhesthai “to hurry” hurry spring come rain-shine—always spring in the wombs deployed for this purpose—ovaries are primed—the word offspring is really both singular and plural—the cell lines are cultured in the singulary—the word single will become a quaint idea has become a quaint idea—we won’t need the letter f anymore in the middle of things—there will never be one knife or one self—knives selves doesn’t that sound better we are better together—we won’t need the word I anymore

 

to love the word we more than I—we don’t have to capitalize we even in the middle of a sentence—the I has been sprung from its prison no more stretcher for you letter I—who do you think you are letter I to be so tall to be like the Roman numeral one—you don’t stand for one anymore—you don’t stand up anymore

 

you are small again a small i a short thing with a black dot for a face—we have always wanted a dot for a face—so much easier to look beautiful every day—if everyone’s face is a dot then no one has to look beautiful every day—our dot is the same as your dot so why don’t we exchange dots—no one will know the difference but it might taste different behind the dot—a little bit of different weather behind your dot yes—we have always wanted a manhole cover for a face—we have always wondered what is below the manhole—what keeps the city from flooding?—what keeps the ark half-built?—what keeps the animals from walking two by two by two by two?

 

4.

dear future clones we are rethinking about you—electrically we are electrifying you in the plural you—neuronally we are neuronifying you in the spaces between our neurons in the salt sea—inside our skulls skol said those death metal Vikings for skull—when they drank from the skulls of their defeated—mead from honey mead from a queen and so many, many baby bees everywhere—drunk on togetherness on doing being the same until they die—good bees they take out our bodies sweep them into the air, the air—that is heaven that is a good death dropping at the same rate together—duty done skol skol skol

 

we are picturing you in our mind as Athena born from her father’s head—burst we like the word burst—and we want our head put back together—we want our head not split open like a watermelon—even if it meant we got to have the daughter we always wanted—even if we get the daughter without a mother—we don’t need a mother we are father-mother—you only need one parent—and put the word father or the word mother on the shelves with the knives

 

5.

will we be taking family photographs together—we and you our future clones—how will we tell years later who is who is who is who is who is who—will we stand in the middle because we are the original—and you copies fan out around us in what kind of order—who do we like the best today—who does the photographer think has the brightest twinkle in their eye eye eye—do we all wear the same outfit where can we get so many of the same outfit—by then all the stores will sell so many of the same outfit—don’t be ugly today or if you do don’t go outside because we don’t want anyone to see us—looking so ugly or shabby or old or female—when you’re looking so female older female just stay inside nobody wants to see that—in such bright light at least bring some shade—or your shadow who isn’t the wrong color—and your shadow no one can see our face our dot our aging dot not as dot-like as it used to be

 

6.

we have been making a documentary of these fetuses—sonograms just photographic slices now also 3-D imaging—still all that blur but no fetus is the wrong color—sometimes the wrong gender the wrong gender in the dark—sometimes the face the dot of the fetus is facing away from us—as if it doesn’t want to see us doesn’t want us to see us ourselves their future our origins

 

7.

in all the movies and television shows and books about clones—dear future clones they are always never actual clones—they are actors photographed again again again—but we are never fooled although we love being fooled all the time—we are afraid of the times we are not fooled—in our lives we don’t actually own anything although we pay for things—we will pay for everything for you because you are our future—we didn’t know we wanted to be immortal—but could you please not get yourselves into as much pain—we are worried about what all that pain will mean—will it be our fault—will it be our problem—will it be our future—my pain is your past but you might forget me I mean us we mean us

 

8.

to love the look of our own blood—because it spelled things it spells things for us—anything that was inside us recently was us—we know Freud would agree and Freud is still inside me meaning us—he might not want to be us—he never dreamed about us—Freud where are you in our body

 

you must be in the blood because it comes from the basement inside our bones—and we think you like basements the way you like talking and we feel you—clinging in your three-piece suit to the underside of an iceberg—we will save you from sea lions—there are things on the surface from we cannot save—we are loathe to spill your blood onto the blue-white milk ice floes—we are loathe to spill or spell

 

a flotilla of ships approaches—all alike all alike one might save us—one might take you with us Freud please come with us—all these years into your future you never dreamed about us even once—but we dream about you Freud we dream about the world beneath the world

 

9.

future clones, we did not know that Freud took his own life—where did he take it he took it into the future—but before he could take it into the future he had to break it off from the animal—now he is the animal beneath the animal—you offspring we never knew we could make so many animals essentially an infinite number—we could repopulate the earth with ourselves with the right machines including ourselves—we could reproduce ourselves and train ourselves to reproduce ourselves to reproduce ourselves—this could go on until someone stops us or our death drive thank you Freud—allows us to return to the room beneath the room—the body beneath our body that is exhausted—that is mere breath that is leaning heavily on the airlock—with its cool metal wheel against our hot olding face

 

10.

we apologize we are less like us in all the ways we are like us like you like us we are so so sorry—we just knew that we would let ourselves down but we didn’t know what else to dowe didn’t want to take our lives because we thought it would be better—to give them away to all of you—it’s true that someone always has to pay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Replication

 

 

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Benefits of decoupled reproduction

Conception became a third-party interruption

Lineal transplant

 

Copies in wonderland

If I press into you hard enough, I can make a carbon copy

One man could have millions of children with millions of women

 

Not everyone is invited to the party of multiplication

Games to be blindfolded, pin the tail on the half-sibling

My womb a piñata, paper donkey, mule

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . .

 

Take a bat to the candy from the sky

Pick it all up before it’s gone, greedy fingers

Re = again, plicare = to fold

 

Obsolescence of the family every science fiction fantasy

In the pursuit of happiness

Every species is transitional

 

What are you bringing to the party?

I see my father every time I look in the mirror but I wouldn’t recog-

nize him on the street

Perhaps in a lineup, if I could put my hands next to his, or look at his

teeth, like a horse

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

Honey, can you pick up some eggs on the way home?

Her children are 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, 1

After she dies, her eggs can still be used. A body so quiet

 

All animals need, directly or indirectly, other animals to die so they

can live

Family tree like a virus. Contagion, pandemic, and R0.

Surplus embryos. A dozen twins terminated in vitro. They went

back to Galapagos

 

Each beak would have been slightly different. We want to look into

their eyes

But I was asking to be born, every cell alive, every mitosis eating

space

I’ve seen what happens when women take up space

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

Each termination a love letter to space. Abraham and Isaac but with-

out the intervention

The un-transplant

Offshore the body

 

Outsource the future

Their hundred children apex predators

A moveable feast, each their own calendar and code

 

Stronger, better, faster. More human than human. Homo replicatus

Each child with a dog inside and a wolf outside

They are winners, survivors. Culture, frozen, implanted, gestated,

born, they passed all the tests

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 

Why shouldn’t they grin

Show us their teeth

 

***

 

‘Autoclonography’ and ‘Replication’ are used by permission from Unbearable Splendor (Coffee House Press, 11 October 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Sun Yung Shin.



ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR


is the author of poetry collections Roughand Savage and Skirt Full of Black, which won an Asian American Literary Award. She coedited the anthology Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption, and is the author of Cooper's Lesson, a bilingual Korean/English illustrated book for children. She's received grants and fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and elsewhere. She lives in Minneapolis.


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