Karen An-hwei Lee is the author of Phyla of Joy (Tupelo 2012), Ardor (Tupelo 2008) and In Medias Res (Sarabande 2004), plus a novel, Sonata in K (Ellipsis 2017).  Currently, she lives in San Diego and serves in the university administration at Point Loma Nazarene University.

Dear Millennium, On the Tallest
Invisible Tower in the World

Karen An-hwei Lee


The tallest invisible tower in the world will not be the tallest skyscraper,
just the tallest invisible one.

It will only be invisible at certain times of day, from certain perspectives.
Therefore, it will not be invisible to everyone at every point in time
and every vantage point for viewing.

The invisibility, as proposed, will be simultaneously conceptual, illusory,
and artificial, which are not mutually exclusive states of being.

The invisibility shall be due to the light-emitting diodes of video-recorded views from various perspectives of the tower.

The recordings will be projected as facades either onto the tower or into space, or both, to create the illusion of transparency.

A sense of transparency will arise from the illusion of continuity in the landscape
or diurnal cloudscape behind the tower.

One could say, perhaps, invisibility and transparency are synonymous
in this proposed scenario.

The tallest invisible tower in the world will be in a megacity, near the airport
outside the necropolis.

Meditation on Figs and Hunger
in a Summer Blackout

Karen An-hwei Lee


Echo a blind woman reading aloud, stirring –
root-colored iris flexing without sight.

Listen to eucalyptus stirring in a heat wave.
Rushing menthol after the fog rolls in, dulse mud

also rolls. Rolls in from the June sea, marine layer

of myrrh, dark cocoa mass, rose, clementine,

                          night-blooming lotus –

feral chartreuse parakeets of insomnia,

             something like fish-in-the-trees.

Song of a girl swallowing ice in the night,

Where did you get the ice?

              I said, don’t open the refrigerator.

Song of coarse-skinned figs, rogue
off a gnarled tree crawling out of the sidewalk –

so green, the new skin sings, I will never bruise.

Under the lilacs, we count one-eyed car lights.

Unloose our raffia-bound hair –

                                         darkness on darkness.


Bilingual Beatitude on Sopapillas for Angels

Karen An-hwei Lee


When I explain
to my peluquero in Santa Ana

there is no man ruling
over my household of one

and no children, I add –
soy es poeta.

When I wake in the morning,
if I desire to eat sopapillas,

fried quick-bread with sugar,
no one argues.

I make sopapillas with angels.

I try to say this in Spanish
but instead I say angeles

for argue. I end up saying
I make sopapillas

for angels. I say, blessed
are those who break

unleavened bread
with angeles.