Debbie Hu - Well if everybody is everybody then maybe baby can be a nipple too? Baby looks. Inside is stuff. Baby decides. The inside stuff can be milk too. Baby tries to be a nipple of milk too. // "almost but not white" // "why won't you let me show my nipples"

Debbie Hu, AIRY BABY: AN EQUAL TO THE ATE NIPPLE?//I worry/I don’t/Believe in Books/or do owly///. Perfect Lovers Press, 2013.

Debbie Hu wants you to think about baby, but all I can think about is what baby means for poetry. Mac Low starts off his 17th dance with the realization/instruction, “Someone has a baby or seems to have one.” Yes, obviously, we are always having some kind of baby. Notley—to whom Hu gives a much necessary shout out—once questioned, “Do you think women & men have kids in order to become immortal?” Why baby and why now? Are we making baby or is baby making us?  Is it baby or the process of baby? Poets used to have babies now they have the Internet.  Poets today let their babies do unfathomable things and leave their tiny baby lives in shambles. Contemporary Poet Jennifer Pieroni’s baby is primarily unlucky. In “Unlucky Babies,” she locks her baby out of the car and does not even allow for it to learn to type. Contemporary Poet Chelsey Minnis puts her baby on secret trial: “A baby on 9/11 was definitely in love with me and the parents did not know.” Hu’s baby lives in a similar place. It is part voyeur, part chauffeur, and part Gucci waiting in the wings.  She writes:
Baby has no laundry machine, only a writing conceit. The baby thoughts of
the baby writing
machine, uploading a picture of herself on the internet, looking suburban.
Baby tries hacking her
relationships with words like love letters like the write combination will
crack the chains & change
a mind & minor upheval. But the effects are weird on the heart. So baby
goes back to writing
words for baby eyes only.
Hu’s baby has been taught to type because Hu’s baby is sometimes herself. Most often, though, baby is more of a symbolic bystander than a conduit. Baby is not always the most important thing but this book seems to be baby’s own creation. Perhaps it would be best to say that Airy Baby, is a kind of intertextual baby book; for the gentle omnipresent-omniscient baby, there is Ke$ha. There is charming organizational risk AKA formal chaos. There is the political as it battles with the personal. There is Cantonese then New Zealand. There are penises or shame. The narrative voice is distinctly cohesive yet polyvocal in a very necessary way.
Hu switches between the hyper casual and the “large idea” casual. She goes from “I wore a candy stripe dress / To the General Assembly and my pleaseface until I / Become a pop star my pleaseface is a dontrapeme pleaseface becuz / stay away my cunt smells terrible” to “it wounds me to read that she craves solitude and no / accountability, I feel like I am all despicable money” in just one page. She is sometimes Gurlesque transgressive in a blunt way like Ariana Reines, but most often a very idealistic type of gross-delicate, something that makes me think of Jenny Zhang’s first collection. Feng Sun Chen, from whom Hu quotes extensively, also comes to mind.
While very much composing a “poetry” book, the pieces are sometimes epistolary fragments and other times stolen bits from the pages of some tangentially yet brilliantly related thing. Airy Baby has titled sections, but they’re largely irrelevant; demarcations and page numbers become nobody’s business. Pieces start and stop wherever they’d like—pick back up then quit again.  Baby, itself, operates similarly, waiting in the background for its opportunity to be the savior or the disgrace. To be the distraction. Baby is present for pages then not at all; it vanishes.
There are epiphanies laced throughout but, much like the emotional content of the book, these realizations are muted. The writing is laced with a certain sense of overwhelming comic unhappiness—the kind of thing that surfaces with any period of introspection. Hu jokingly alludes to David Foster Wallace in the book’s preface, and, like Wallace, uses footnotes to distract and “confuse” the reader. Here, though, it would seem that Hu employs these asides to soften the intensely emotional or personal. We are always returning to humor because humor is the only way to comprehend humanity.
In the final pages of Airy Baby, Hu offers one last reflection on baby:
Baby finds everything boring
Baby feels like everything
Baby identifies with baby tyrants
(Is baby a baby tyrant?)
Baby is a moody baby
Baby is a gendered baby

Is baby just Kathy Acker or Ariana Reines?
Poets love baby because baby is the blank slate thus perpetual new beginning. Baby is everything then nothing then everything again. We can live vicariously through baby, watch baby grow, and then leave baby to nothing. Thank god for Debbie Hu who has chosen to–in all of the chaos of life’s frustrating ambiguity—let baby live. Cassandra Gillig

all yr hurt flows
after Anne Boyer
“Intellectual women who have feelings like THE COW.  Gay men like THE COW.  Men who like to have sex with women who have a lot of feelings like THE COW.  People who like things with good style and no typos do not like THE COW.  I can sympathize with them, but those people are not my problem.” - Ariana Reines
Some people don't like my writing.
Intellectual women who have feelings don't like my writing. Gay men do not like my writing. Men who like to have sex with women who have a lot of feelings do not like my writing. People who like things with good style and no typos do not like my writing. I can sympathize with them,
But I'd like to know why I feel people's eyes glazing over when I say things like “I'm oriental.”
For some reason that makes people feel like they don't need my story.
            & in the weather pattern
            by your guilt or
                                                curiosity piqued by
                        my LOVING de-formed alienation
I'd like to show that alienation is a writing prompt
I want to not be afraid of the reserves of alienation I hold
            in my body
I want to listen to it and let it come out like music
I dream poetry that colonizes the internet like a wound
Where nothing goes viral like discontent
Spreading from eyes to stomach to heart to head to mouth, to each mouth
So that whenever one opens their mouth in shock or horror or disgust or outrage
That there are words
ready, words to give speech to the speechless & phrases for tears
words for the numb
I want people so open & porous to each other
that a shock to one body
is a shock to the entire network,
where the things that get amplified
are cries of injustice
(Can the People's Mic accommodate everything?)
(Mother, I have within me
voices and visions.)
It will be so much of everything all the time.
It will be over over overwhelming
            and de de de destabilizing
And all the things you thought you wanted or needed
            will come to seem strange,
                                                                                                stranger than bad writing, or good writing,
                                                                                                            writing that's more than good
Questions of craft will be made irrelevant
& the hungry
            will be
                        given food, just to make the
& the hatred of rapists & abusers & bullies & war makers will be visible & known
there will be an enormous transmission of public anger
when the public is so angry that it becomes a real war against those who hate us
when the sick are so loud in their neediness that every spare resource is given for their comfort
and when the babies cry we do not enjoy their song but we respond because their cry has lodged inside of us
& laughter, too, will spread as earthquakes spread –
we will especially laugh when things are true.
                                                It is not difficult to get the news from poems.

            No poetry but in lives.
Poetry becomes the sublimely useful tool
I remember when we came out in public and found
that we each bore
important messages.

(What “we?”)


you wanted to sit in the sun & because you are unfit-
fully my Muse I
"where did the sun go?"

you wanted to sit in the sun so we sat on a bench.
I loved it, there was even a butterfly,
& on the next bench
a suited woman gone limp &

"that reminds me of this thing."
you have so many things
"that reminds me of this thing my friend Lorraine told me about called Paris Syndrome."

it is May and I am fit, I am full,
I am faithfully glowing
in the basin parts of me for you, still
still, "there are two kinds of conversation people have"

you gave me a duty-
free cigarette I

in 2010 I met you & we drove out from Chicago together
our car broke down in a place I called Eunoia
& eventually I threw away the pad
that had been collecting, for days, my blood.
what a period!
yesterday I texted you back that I was on day one of my period &

fifteen minutes later I said,
"Cat, Dick is withholding text messages from me!"
I showed her the timestamps.
I was hungry and bleeding and my mother is in Shanghai. I spilt some Cheerios then texted you again but everything autocorrected to, "I suck."

today we are walking down 5th Avenue.
I am half-thinking of conversation topics but none of them seem that fun.
"what are you thinking of?" you ask

I am thinking about racism and money.
I am wondering what music you've been listening to. but I say,
"none of the things I am thinking about seem that fun."
your impishness seems a little slower than usual when you say,
"well, I only like to talk about fun things, so..."
and I spit back,
"I'm not necessarily worried about YOU having fun!"

because really I just want to be totally blissed-out and I say as much.

in the movie of this there would be cuts of lust filled fantasies but I am just sleepy and bored of your friend Eugene, my breasts are heavy and I felt embarrassed when you knew I wasn't wearing a bra when we hugged each other through thin shirts, that was sexy.

and sometimes the page becomes just like you and I don't know how to put things down in Complicated Simplicity (which was the name of my first blog).

no I want to write this again to reunderstand it though I am tired and sort of sunk, you know? is it already time to cook broccoli?

(writing it again)


you wanted to sit in the sun and because you are fit-
fully my muse I
"where did the sun go?"
you wanted to sit in the sun so we sat on a bench.
I loved it, well I have always
known there was something ugly about
white men
& you are one & you want to be a good feminist
& also fuck women well I want to fuck
(but I don't trust) you because you are
a bad feminist.
charismatic men are inevitably bad feminists.

and you are no exception
though charismatic men inevitably seem like exceptions.

but, as Lauren Berlant says, love is
The Amnesia You Like

also, you're wonderful
have I mentioned you're wonderful?
I've only seen you six times
but every time I see you I take home a basket of softly glowing anecdotes.

also (who knew this poem was going to be about my mom?)
today is Mother's Day.
my mom emailed me yesterday, after she had somehow found her way into my poem Shanghai is, like, 12 or 14 hours ahead of New York so it was Mother's Day over there I guess even though it's an American Holiday and she sent me an email called, "thinking of you on mother's day" and the body of the email said,

Dear Debbie,

I was reading this quotation and thinking of you today:

"The most important thing I learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one."

Hope to see you soon, and we love you!


the incrimination of the email, the incrimination of me & her self-incrimination & her self-forgiveness & also her forgiveness of me, in sending the email--
it was too much
or I am too American
for this. I love terribly across
time differences.

every girl I meet has something
she wants to write about
but is afraid of being stigmatized
for. where is the article called
"I was Raped at Occupy Wall Street by Your Friend, [Name]"
"I was Raped by an Anarchist at Occupy Wall Street"
"I was Raped by a 99 Percenter at Occupy Wall Street"
"I was Raped by a Serial Rapist with a Foreclosed Home at Occupy Kansas City"
"I was Raped by a Revolutionary During the Revolution"

I don't care if you're having fun.

Over 20 percent of rape complaints were recently dismissed as "unfounded" by the Oakland Police Department, which did not interview many, if not most, of the women involved. Not coincidentally, the vast majority of the complainants were Black and poor; many of them were substance abusers or prostitutes. EXPLAINING THEIR FAILURE TO PURSUE THESE COMPLAINTS, THE POLICE REMARKED THAT "THOSE CASES WERE HOPELESSLY TAINTED BY WOMEN WHO ARE TRANSIENT, UNCOOPERATIVE, UNTRUTHFUL, OR NOT CREDIBLE AS WITNESSES IN COURT." - [from a source cited in kimberle crenshaw's "intersectionality," 1990]


I'm too tired to keep writing this poem
I know nothing except that I will go to sleep
unsatisfied, unless I write myself inside-out
first. it seems hard to put your "all" into poetry.
just peeing out words at this point.
marie calloway liked my essay on tumblr--
so I have to write something awesome now, if only for her
and jackie wang and nathaniel otting

if you wake up late enough in the day
someone might have already sent you some pee over email
especially if you sent them pee the day before
I think my writing might be more with it than i am--it is living out there and being admired on widely-read tumblrs

I feel like people would always want to text back "To Heartbreak Hotel"

today I ate shit. I ate an Asian pear and two pieces of bread with peanut butter and then nothing for hours, I fell asleep because I felt like such shit & I know that this is ordinary but I have to write it

because after I woke up I ate a grapefruit & I don't know why I picked this moment to continue writing when obviously I just need to GET FUCKED preferably by the 2 or 3 ambient crushes I have

"Heartbreak Hotel" is just like me,
it is getting liked by popular white girls.

And Cat said it's weird that I draw with dark lines but I really think that the lines have to be strong and true when you start or else they'll never become strong and true.


the ambient nipple
i wanna slurp it
yup i wanna sublet that nipple for the summer
the mosquito bit my cheek
my mosquito bite turned into a nipple
yup if I'm good enough for Dick to brush his arm against unsteadily then I"m good enough for his
penis to go into me
I relied on Hannah Manshel to make Heartbreak Hotel
I relied on JR Martin to make Heartbreak Hotel
and now I'm getting all this social capital
and I don't even know what social capital means!

feeling weird I turned on my phone and typed the following poem to Austin:


ambient mom
ambient homesickness
ambient heterosexual males
ambient desire
ambient fear
ambient regret
ambient nipple
ambient hate crime
ambient racism
ambient obviousness
ambient obviousness
ambient oviousness
ambient internet
ambient lena dunham
ambient empire
ambient compassion for the working class

ambient class analysis
ambient defeat
ambient urgency
ambient waiting
feminist waiting
feminist insomnia
feminist lagging
feminist itching
feminist failing
feminist wandering
feminist crushing
feminist texting
feminist reaching out
feminist feeling neglected
too erotic
too neurotic
too erratic


like a girlfriend I am going to seduce you with my whimsy and bomb you with my depression I'm going to make you listen to me talk for hours
my depression bomb will make a crater in your body
and I will fill it with
all of my neediness
and all of my emotional baggage
until you can barely walk with the weight of it all
and you are going to feel guilty
and you are going to try to avoid me
and I will know why
and I will seduce you again
and you will love me again
and it will not be good for you
no it will not be good for us
because I am a bad girlfriend.
only bad girlfriends, marie calloways, lesbians, and sex workers.

but that too is only a fantasy because who is the bad girlfriend bad for if not mainly herself? and men always have their WORK that they are able to escape into, the world of men that holds them, the philosophers who speak to them and help them forget their misery.


I had a dream about the Golden Gate Bridge,
which I have looked at with Google Street View.
there was a ring of NO TRESPASS signs in the middle of the bridge
it was causing so much congestion


suddenly, there you were in the middle of the signs
standing up, dusting yourself off
you'd been lying in the sun on the Golden Gate Bridge
i dreamed my way into how that must have felt:

your whole body pressed against warm concrete
suspended between sky and water
and your ears and nose filled with car sounds and car smells
and like what if you died

i don't know i just want it
i want your stinking sun

(subtitle, courtesy of Jesse Darling: compulsive and wounded)

Chen Guangcheng is coming on the right day!
To go through the authoritarian state,
a hero. By appealing to the Premier Wen Jiabao...

I can't tell, if he has extreme poverty or
extreme wealth of imagination?
Oops sorry I'm being mean

New York is filled with lovely people and
I am one of them??
writing out of what definitely looks

like a mood.

I'm on the L train
a girl is lip-synching
so fresh

copying my poems over again
reading my poems over again

oh no a girl is vomiting
it's acid fresh

to be a poet is to be the poorest
of artists how little
words can do

bourgeois people
looking at me for
bemused solidarity re: vomiting girl

yuck yuck yuck

the vomit
the floor

are you amused yet
by what I"m leaving?
we talk on the phone for 7 hours
incredibly, a ghost rides through
the chocolate center of the cake on
the back of the other ghost
while you masturbate!!!!!!!!

i wish words made
                            interesting patterns
for stoned people to look at.
yup yup
we are walking all over st. mark's place looking for restaurants
and every boyfriend has to listen to me talk

they really do.
they really really really really really do.
are you still listening?

i remember me when i was still delightfully shy.
now i'm publicly bored.
how many lives have you lived, debbie hu?
and are you still relieved when you're able to shed it all?

clever hypothetical scenarios trolley
and this poor girl keeps vomiting
and i'm not going to describe what she looks like
i told austin that i never want to be physically described

to a white person,

i don't want them to use the word "chinese"
and i don't want them to not use the word "chinese"
and rob horning has already gotten me mixed up with jane hu

i am anxious to pee every last thought

(on the day where we began this poem, you were telling me about how you've been getting into
trouble for wanting to have nonmonogamous relationships with girls. recently you began getting
serious with a girl, and you said to her, "i'll be monogamous with you if that's what you want, but
that's not my preference, and also i don't care if you see or sleep with other people," and she got
there seems to be a community feeling that you're an asshole, and you were wondering if it's
kind of the equivalent of getting slut-shamed. you said, "like, i really feel like i *am* a slut, like

interesting patterns

i'll meet a girl and i'll just want to be her little slut, to please her, so if pleasing her involves like
acting like her boyfriend, i just fall into doing that, and then it's weird when she realizes that that's
not actually who i am."

i said, "maybe the problem is that the way you attract women is by being a charming straight
white male, and people have all sort of fucked up desires and expectations surrounding straight
white maleness," and you said, "well, i kind of think that that's not my problem."

thinking more about how you see yourself as a slut, i said, "maybe you're just a

"yeah, but for every heartbreaker there is an equal and opposite heartbreaker."

"what do you mean?"

"i mean, there's always someone who can break my heart."

"right, maybe that's what happens at the end of your movie."

"...or the beginning of my movie."


"or maybe the end of one movie and the beginning of the next one.")

To Heartbreak Hotel*
Slow Mood Movement*
money money money money*
why writing for moonroot is scary and anxiety-inducing but also a stressful site of possibility.