Selected Poems | Cameron Quan Louie


On the new train
line the trip takes
only four minutes.
I find one problem with
that kind of efficiency
is I get places
too fast. I think
I needed time
to decide not to
read, to look out
there at the dark tunnel
wall moving past. So
like a film reel, so
trained to reach
its stop in the corner
of my eye. Now


there behind or
in the window,
a vague passenger
is picking white
lines, hairs, off
his black pant leg.
They number maybe
in the hundreds,
but his hair doesn’t
look white or lines –
in fact, it’s black and
waves. I would extend
a hand, offer to help
with picking, but
the passenger is now
looking certain as
it’s my leg and
they’re my pants, and
the day is clearly
going to pass regardless
of the shape we’re in.

Hot Water

I thought         the hanging out of bits           of thoughts

displayed                    suspended like

laundry drying on       the line                        would be a whole
way of ordering           the mess           as if the obvious solution
of the image were        sheets                         sheets

shit      I forgot            to watch
water dry out              there light goes            back into
cotton              thread count of a zillion

nope nope nope          that’s not how it works

hot water blooms        there it all is

the day’s work            out of the way

A Physical Distance, A Guess

I guess we have to talk
about the soul.

We’ll have to get close
so that we’re almost touching,

I’ll describe mine:

it’s two stones
buried in the snow,

two rounds
in a shallow

white hole.
Dig one stone out

with a spade.
See how the other

slouches into the absence
you’ve made?

You did make it, and there’s no point
in pretending otherwise.

You have a stone now.
What will you do with just one stone?

Cameron Quan Louie is from Tucson, Arizona. He currently lives in Seattle, where he interns at Wave Books and does poetry-related things at the University of Washington. In the past, Cameron has served on the University of Arizona Poetry Center’s advisory board, been a recipient of the Bill and Ruth True Family Prize, and had his work nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Zócalo Public Square, Santa Ana River Review, Foothill: A Journal of Poetry, Gold Man Review, Duende, jubilat, and elsewhere.

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