Ode to James Harden’s Beard by Joshua Nguyen

Let’s speak of the grizzly bear

in the middle of the room.

Thick black rambutan branches

dripping citrus under the sun.

What extra powers are suppressed

beneath? Lulling opponents to sleep

with each bend against the wind. Hope

is lost if you stare directly into the void

because by then, arms will outstretch

to consume its prey & what other

response is justified when under

direct attack & the focal

point is to stifle the air around you.

Any creature backed into a corner

remembers they have to survive &

remembers that they have skin

beneath their fur that can be penetrated

unless they quickly realize that

it isn’t the hair that wards off defenders

but the hidden keen teeth that refuse

to help another man’s hunger.

Joshua Nguyen is a Kundiman Fellow, collegiate national poetry champion (CUPSI), and a native Houstonian. He has been published in The Offing, The Acentos Review, Rambutan Literary, Button Poetry, The Texas Review, Gulf Coast, and Hot Metal Bridge. He is currently an MFA candidate at The University of Mississippi. He is a bubble tea connoisseur and works in a kitchen.

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