Earworm Cities

Peggy Lee


after night
loud noraebang
after another,


seizure inducing tambourine
cigarette smog
whiskey perfume,


favorite part of it all is-
she doesn’t need to talk to them


she must

liquor with a smile

enough to chew on
but barely

the mic is hers
this song -her song, impresses everyone with
wow’s and golf claps


the song cued is

the saddest woman in show business


“just like me, they long to be,
                   close to you,”
she inhales- and
ribs crawl through
the cloth of her tight dress



no touch torture


she widows into a lone, sound astronaut


crawls on all fours past the length of the mattress,
past him, to reach the television
the opening of her right ear encrusted with dried blood
yet she places it next to the blaring speaker gently,
the screen, a face of a lover with mute secrets-
she backs away from the lips,
red blood trickles


he the witness, is awake and cries.  


they used to draw for one another
the room filling with the symphony of scribbles and ripping,
shark teeth rows in an eating frenzy
aware their speech was being seized by
a carnival carousal of horrors, increasing velocity
their stomachs ride up and cut the esophagi,  


uncontrollable hums-
two warped songbirds, numb to its own vibrato  
they surrender to the centrifugal force of infinity:
the babble of the exhausted amidst ceaseless elephant trumpets,
splattering incoherent Jackson Pollock’s  


they did not understand one another anymore,
and reached
a flat earth


to drill the tip of the pen deep into the cave of the ear,
to cut an artery with a shard of glass,
to jump from great heights,
they dreamt of nothing but


last song syndrome


He was in a parking lot of a small taco truck on Sunset Boulevard, at the tail end of the dinner rush. On Friday evenings after closing up the Korean auto shop on Olympic Boulevard, he ritually stopped at the truck to grab dinner before heading home to have a few beers. With cigarette in one hand, a carne asada taco in the other, its contents of julienned cabbage and beets spilling onto the flimsy paper plate with crimped edges, he stared at the setting sun. The sky held a cold blue hue with violent splashes of purple intermingling with a subdued pink struck by yellow. Ten minutes and the yellow soon ran into an orange and he felt his shoulders relax a little. He turned his head towards his favorite sight in the parking lot made eatery: the Capitol Records building. During this time the sun would peak from the hotel next to it, giving the impression that a fiery orange and red ball hit the side of the building. It stood unscathed, tall and tiered, like a grand white wedding cake or the dress his pretty niña wore on her quinceañera. Its rotundness gave the feeling of softness, gills, as if one could curl her fingers underneath each tier and feel soft red tissues. He picked up his second taco, enjoying the warmness of the corn tortilla on his fingertips and bit into it. The spicy salsa rojo dripped onto his shirt, already stained with years of grease and oil. He thought he saw something falling, a dot or speck, from the top of the Capitol Records building. Certain that he imagined it- probably the gas fumes getting to his head, he continued chewing but stopped when he saw another figure following the first. His eyes now focused, the dots turned into flailing figures, with precise lines and angles.  

Peggy Lee
Peggy Lee

Peggy Lee is a writer, independent scholar, and youth worker residing and working in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. She was a 2010-2011 Open City Asian American Writer's Workshop fellow and worked on a creative writing project about urban change in the three NYC Chinatowns. She has read her poetry in venues on the East and West coasts, from Bluestockings (bookstore) to UCLA, and is currently working on a poetry manuscript. She received a Master’s in performance studies at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and graduated with a B.A. in women’s studies in 2008 from University of California, Santa Barbara.