“Listening to Incense” by Travis Lau

Our little systems bear
the days and cease to be

so the curls of smoke
may attend their rising,

their claims to other
palaces made of air,

while we learn to
listen to the ashen trace

of residues,
mute and grey.

White plum
and joss money,

fired into other lives
as we come to bow

our heads upon
the unforgiving

longing for a
father and his land.

One stick

lit and


Travis Lau recently received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Department of English. His research interests include eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, the history of medicine, and disability studies. His academic writing has been published in Journal of HomosexualityRomantic CirclesEnglish Language NotesDigital Defoe, and Disability Studies Quarterly. His creative writing has appeared in The Deaf Poets SocietyWordgatheringAssaracusRogue AgentUp the Staircase Quarterly, and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology (Handtype Press, 2015). travisclau.com