Poetry: Smokescreens by Emma Miao

In “Smokescreens,” the speaker skillfully juxtaposes harsh realities from around the world; “we are all animals” the speaker announces, capable of being both “broken, bruised,” but also capable of song, like the deer in the mist.



In this Buzzfeed unsolved video: a woman folded like paper

down an oil drum. How easy to hide where no one wants


to look. The white fog taking over the city, pressing like

the butterflies heaped onto my chest. Coastal night


chill makes grassfields sweat. Insects buzzing;

insects buried. In Iran, a child trips on a playground


and detonates. The rain patters him a daisy-shelled

funeral, surrounded by shrapnel and rabbits.


This is not a political poem. In Hangzhou, my

hometown, a flamelicked cavern stuffed with opium.


The opium smells like some burning animal.

We’re all animals, broken, bruised,


reflections gouging shattered screens.

A smoke alarm squeals, pries open the house.


Grandma flicks a switch above the oven

And the smoke curls into vent, into sky, like echo.


Sizzle of deep-fried pork buns. Somewhere, a

deer fills a forest with its mist-pressed song.


Emma Miao

Emma Miao is a writer from Vancouver, BC. Her work appears in Diode Poetry Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, Atlanta Review, Rust + Moth, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and The Emerson Review. Her poem "Rabbits on the Balcony" won the Fiddlehead's 2021 Ralph Gustafson Prize for Best Poem. Her debut chapbook 'Geography of Mothers' is forthcoming from Frog Hollow Press in 2021. She is sixteen years old and can be found at emmamiao.com.

Close Menu