My Brother is a Magpie | Poem

Originally published in Winter Tangerine Review’s “Imaginary Homelands” issue, this piece investigates recollection and transformation. Curated and edited by Rosebud Ben-Oni, the “Imaginary Homelands” issue is full of “languages of longing and provocation.” This beautiful issue explores homelands in relation to the heart as well as place. Accompanied by stellar artwork by Cara Thayer and Louie Van Patten, each featured poet was also given the opportunity to stay a few words about their poem and imaginary homeland.


My Brother is a Magpie

My brother is a magpie
in China

where I left my shoes
on his front door.

In the long distances
of winter he leaves me

for the twigs
in the persimmon trees.

I’ve cut the fruit with a knife
and expecting a firmer tomato

my brother’s wife lays eggs
in the comfort of my throat.




Is your homeland imaginary or real? Describe it.

My homeland seems to be somewhere between the imaginary and the real. Because of this I wonder if I have purposefully misplaced myself.

Ethnically, my family comes from many different countries: the Philippines, Mexico, Spain, Ireland, and followed the tides to come together as the family unit of my mother and father on the west coast. And as many immigrants of my grandparents’ age did once they arrived to the States, they tried to assimilate and asked their children to do the same.

I have not stayed in my home state, but traveled to and lived in several different states countries: Hawaii, Czech Republic, China, and on both coasts of the United States. I am happy and fortunate to have traveled so much, to make friends, and to be in love all over the world. Every place I have lived I have tried to make my home, even if temporarily. I tried to learn the language, the culture, be active in the community and support it. Once or twice I fell in love. But a homeland is different from a home, and often times because I knew the trip was temporary, I would not call any of these places my homeland. In leaving the people and the places I have begun to call home there is always a gaping sadness. On my last day in China, over fifty friends came to wave goodbye and see me off. I have never felt more cared for than in that moment. I cry often during transitions–a type of ceremony for what I had, what I am leaving, and what will come.

This has been a reminder of what I have always been able to return to: my body. The history of my ancestors, the love of my friends, the adventures I have had are in the lines in my hands, the callouses on my feet, the color of my skin, my name, are in my heart. I access my homeland from within myself. My homeland is embodied. My homeland is my body.

To read the interview in full, please visit Winter Tangerine Review.

Winter Tangerine Review is a literary & arts organization dedicated to the electric. To the salt. The sugar. We want bitter honey, expired sweets. We want catalysts. We want raw, aggressive, violently soft. We want the pieces that leave sawdust in your mouth, the pieces that disintegrate your enamel, that strike matches against your palm.

Winter Tangerine Review aims to disrupt the status quo.

We believe in the power of art. We believe in the power of the written word. We believe in structure, and we believe in dismantling structure. We aim to challenge you to a fistfight outside a nice club in Nevada. We aim to remind you of why you loved him. Of why you left her. We aim to tap into memories, to conjure nostalgia. We aim to create new experiences.

So leave your artistic boundaries behind. You won’t need them here.

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