l i l y    h o a n g

30: Radiance

The day I made fun of my brother's friend because she was crazy because she got shock therapy because the cops were called all the time because I knew because we lived across the street & I didn't know any better. The day I did that, I ran into the ocean & beautiful electric tentacles covered my skin blue. Each part branding my skin with white pockmarks, which didn't make sense if the tentacles were blue, but I thought I was going to die so I couldn’t really care at all.

Knowing that your mother must have taken a needle and punctured holes in your skin & from those permanent wounds, a pale yelloworange radiates out from your insides & it glows something bright in this darkness.


 She could have glowed from all the treatment, them putting electricity through her body like that like how I can't even imagine how. She should have been a light constantly beaming 40 watts of big energy.

Imagine: One feather offering enough light for an entire ballroom. It is your task, not because someone has forced your journey but because the feather is hypnotic. Your eyes, unaccustomed to such brightness, momentarily blinded, so you set off, in search of the bird that lost just one feather, that if one feather can do so much, just imagine how bright the bird must be. You walk & you search, but you're still blinded by the magical feather & can't see the sun as mystical bird.

Fire on top of fire smothering like red smothers orange and yellow & always comes out red because red will eat other colors like they weren't even there, only red will look a little less bright, like rust. But if the fire isn't smothering itself, it will remain radiant, full like lips after fucking, thick & voluptuous & red. But fire on top of fire kills itself, leaving behind black ash that isn't radiant that isn't beautiful that lacks body that can't be red that is only what it is: black.

That there was a day when I wishing for insanity  & I taking medicines &  I so young so young & not knowing any better even though I knew about all that electricity  & how it smells like burnt coal & singed hair.


My best friend’s dad was a life guard in Alaska  & he said that Portuguese Man O' War can kill, that he’d seen it, that it was a painful death with all that electricity &  I didn't know when I'd die, only that I would.

The journey of the hero always looking for a bird that glows through night, a creature that he knows exists only from a feather. The hero travels the globe wide and high, reaching true North then falling into deep craters, tumbling somersaults with giggles of joy. The hero has no leash, no time limits, and so he continues his journey until he forgets why he journeys.  Without purpose, he walks into the ocean & beautiful electric tentacles cover his skin blue until he stops



LILY HOANG is the author of Parabola (Chiasmus Press, forthcoming Fall 2007, winner of the Chiasmus Press First Book Prize) and Changing (Fairy Tale Review Press, forthcoming Fall/Winter 2008). Her writing has recently appeared or is soon due out in Black Warrior Review, Quarter After Eight, and the Fairy Tale Review. She received her MFA from the University of Notre Dame in 2006.