This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features two poems by Karen An-hwei Lee. 

A Beautiful Number of Exiles

In exile from seventeen, the seventh prime.    
In exile from a cake of pressed figs on a table.
In exile from wolverines and zampano bread.
In exile from a paradise of flashing swords.
We are in exile from girlhood, in a sense.
In exile from ink cradles of revolution.
In exile from circles of protest on the square.
In exile from an oxymoron spotlighted above.
In exile from the neo-alphabet of a first love.
In exile from pozzolan mixed with fly ash.
In exile from non-threats of nuclearism.
In exile from a bomb of ground tiger bone. 
We are in exile – a rogue hurricane’s eyelash.
In exile from iron robo-lilies under the sun.
In exile from light-bodied antipodean wine.
In exile – skin, tongue, and glyphs like ours.
In exile from palindromic primes in base 10,
we conjecture infinite numbers of exiles exist.

On the Dark Kiang Horses of War

A three-letter word—
                           We return from war,
say women who dream of airplanes
as robot-birds strafing the sky
                                                                or vice versa
who see dark kiang horses snorting
smoke-coils on a horizon
             designed by engineers who warn, do not enter.

This is not a war zone.
                                          This is a war zone.

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