Neon Babylon

Angie Sijun Lou

“O sage [......] come, [let] me tell you / [......... let] me inform you / [.....] ...... [.....] ... you.”
—Babylonian Theodicy 

I believe I am done with Babylon 

until Parker and I bike through East London’s 

serpentine dark. The coldest light defends us. What pure topology 

can history unmake? The River Thames 

begs for ablution, some pools too oblique 

for the burial. And the hills, this-lucid like nothing else. 

Riverweeds trace our elemental body 

while the ones we love, the faultless ones, spin records in the warehouse 

where we sleep. I ring my bell in darkness— 

Hello, I’ve come to fight you only 

in wars that have ended. Hackney Wick, boiler room 

in my dreams, room I forget how to language, 

this it rains. 


I can’t believe what I was. I can’t believe what I am, 

our bodies made 

coalitional again. I talisman my longing, it stays evening 

all day, I talisman so much 

that larval river and the mutest swan, brightness 

soaking in the green. It is a phase of being-alive I need 

a cruelty to slip into, I need lilies 

to shiver in animus before the sun. I light the stove 

to cook eggs in specific ways. For you 

I keep my brainless heart, the yolk that is not yolk, 

but the nucleus I translate 

from one tongue to the tongue that seized us, each of us 

birthing the other 

their center— 


If I were the Euphrates, I could darken my braid. 

If I were the Genesis, I could let poetry ruin my original mouth. 

I am always ‘in metaphor’ 

or knifing out an exit, lucent the scythe 

that gives violence to the sign, how it slits. It slits me 

liminal. Will the angel of history 

show a glimpse of his cards? We drink sun-warmed Sprite 

in the Highgate Cemetery, my ointment-pure, my loving’s 

conditional, all we’ve lost 

we sublate into total loss. I only know Earth 

as a concept I ruminate until the real you comes 

I could bleed clean into.