LEGITIMATE THUNDER

Underneath the shell-shocked bulbs of slack
kitchen lamps, a red-eyed gargoyle whose
fangs are dripping, drip dropping stares at a
brother who makes gestures to
turn off the fucking radio for two minutes

two minutes so that his voice may rill through my ears
periphrastic prophecy. The older one flaunts
his eccentricities by reading in Russian. He cannot see
me, his nephew—(are you a spy?)—insistent instead
to accuse me—(you lie!)—of tapping his phone,

his phone that is pulled from the wall. They are not
culpable, so gauche and ungraceful—but I want my mother,
her cold, hardened hands. Abandonment feels like the
touch of the devil, but big boys don’t cry—
not even when melting.

From beyond the barred windows, the fizzing of fuses, the static
of Union City and the tumult of freedom,
as the Filipino immigrants who’ve made little noise until tonight
seize the streets, brandishing legitimate thunder.
The popping, pip popping, and
sounds of projectiles that sear the pink and placid sky.
The brothers arise just in time to see

to see frenetic flashes shell-shock the bulbs
of the lazy lamps in the kitchen, shake
tiles from square indentations. More flashes of fire
through the barred, broken windows,
igniting the carpet, and thawing, and thawing,
and red-eyed my father’s brothers move quickly

move quickly! because there’s a licking that’s
glistering, glistering,
the popping, pip popping,
is furiously blistering, and
crawling, then sizzling,
our thin, wooden walls

the walls that enclose
this dysfunctional home.
And all I can do is to sit back and wonder
if the dripping, drip dropping, legitimate thunder
is not going to drown them, and leave me alone.

Written by Aaron Shin

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