Travis Chi Wing Lau

[Case notes taken in short hand]               
         the hawker on the one street
         without the name of a dead queen 

         a purgative      in a time of need,
                                                          bloody your feet
                                                                     for a mouthful
              of elixir

                         the color of
                          a fortune teller’s 
                                              nails after she
                                                                 delivers bad news,

it burns
because for it to work
                      it must be felt:
                                                 in the throat
                                                 in the bile 


                                                 what mothers say
                                                 to make a bowl empty
after fires fanned,
         backs broken,
         black beans
                                                           come to cut 
                                                           the taste
                                                           of fat 
                                                     and ferment—
                                                                               the taste of a gourd 
                                                                                                        too bitter

                                                                                                                            by the last sip.

Travis Chi Wing Lau received his Ph.D. in English at the University of Pennsylvania and is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. He specializes in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, the history of medicine, medical humanities, and disability studies. Lau has published in Disability Studies Quarterly, Digital Defoe, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, as well as venues for public scholarship like Public Books and The Los Angeles Review of Books. His poetry has appeared in Wordgathering, Glass, The New Engagement, Nat. Brut, Matador Review, Impossible Archetype, and Rogue Agent. His chapbook, The Bone Setter, was recently published with Damaged Goods Press.