Luminous Debris: New & Selected Legerdemain 1992-2017, Timothy Liu (Limited Edition Hardcover)


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“These poems, like the Tarot pack, range across the world, revealing lives and truths that are sometimes hidden, sometimes raw, sometimes strange and wonderful. As in the cards, as in life, there is pain and mystery, the sadness and beauty of desire, the holiness and splendor of rats, like God, hidden in the subway tunnels of our dreams.”
—Rachel Pollack, author of Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot


“Timothy Liu is a poet faithful to forms of unruliness; devoted to the unembellished and unabashed. Equally committed to a poetic craft that is capable of rearranging reality from the chaos of desire and its surplus of frustration, in his work to date—now organized into major and minor arcana culled from personal archives of encounter and memory, and from an alertness to world politics and history—he has mastered various kinds of forms into works that are unmistakably his own…. Inscribing the illusions and disappointment of personality with human relations as subjected to the dramaturgy of sex and desire, Liu commands that we care insomuch as outrageousness and generosity are finally devotion to “The things loved least / loved at last.”
—Roberto Tejada from the “Foreword”


from Timothy Liu's ???????? ?????? : In the glass I saw one soul, not two colliding into one. Nothing shattered. What is fragile came after, time to kill. We love badly. Do you see how we lie awake, always hungry in bed? Click To Tweet

Ariel Singing


It is not happiness. Not the man standing
in line waiting to show me his poppies
and doves. Not a vase or an empty cage
he leaves when the magic act is over.
It is sleeping for a long time, the rest
of the world standing in a broken line.
Or waking without new flowers flaming
into this world. It is a world without song
I flew right into. In the glass I saw
one soul, not two colliding into one.
Nothing shattered. What is fragile came after,
time to kill. We love badly. Do you see
how we lie awake, always hungry in bed?
The priests continue to hold out their fast
offerings to the weak. Amen. Teach me
how to sing in a grove of olive trees,
to fall as a sparrow. It is all I want.




My father and I have no place to go.
His wife will not let us in the house—
afraid of catching AIDS. She thinks
sleeping with men is more than a sin,
my father says, as we sit on the curb
in front of someone else’s house.
Sixty-four years have made my father
impotent. Silver roots, faded black
dye mottling his hair make him look
almost comical, as if his shame
belonged to me. Last night we read
Thoreau in a steak house down the road
and wept: If a man does not keep pace
with his companions, let him travel
to the music that he hears, however
measured or far away.
The orchards
are gone, his village near Shanghai
bombed by the Japanese, the groves
I have known in Almaden—apricot,
walnut, peach and plum—hacked down.


Timothy Liu (Liu Ti Mo) was born in 1965 in San Jose, California to immigrant parents from Mainland China. A reader of occult esoterica, he is also the author of ten books of poems, including Of Thee I Sing, selected by Publishers Weekly as a 2004 Book-of-the-Year; Say Goodnight, which received the 1998 PEN Open Book Margins Award; and Vox Angelica, which won the 1992 Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. Liu’s poems have appeared in such places as Best American Poetry, Bomb, Kenyon Review, The Nation, New American Writing, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Pushcart Prize and Yale Review. His journals and papers are archived in the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library. Liu is Professor of English at William Paterson University in New Jersey and lives in Manhattan and Woodstock, NY.