“Composition VIII,” (detail) oil on canvas, by Wassily Kandinsky, 1923.

by Johnson Cheu

Always, they’ve held the threat
of falling, as in off a cliff,
or less dire, a bed.
Death or an awakening awaits.

In sixth grade, Miss C made us
cut out a news article
and summarize it. That Spring,
I learned about 22-caliber bullets,

how a hollow-point can pierce
a lung, like what happened to Reagan.
I learned the word assassination,
the murder of body or character,

I wrote with spastic hands.
But mostly, I learned about ways
to puncture dreams, to set
someone up for a fall.

When I asked Miss C why
she lowered my grade, she looked
at my cut-out article and said,
Well, the edges, they’re not straight.

“Edges” originally appeared in Salamander.

Johnson Cheu’s poetry and essays have appeared in publications such as Family Matters: Poems of our Families, Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images, and Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out, and most recently in Chatauqua Literary Journal and 3ElementsReview. He served as the inaugural fiction/poetry editor of Disability Studies Quarterly and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures at Michigan State University.