A Chinese Migrant
By Ian Haight


A few low
cement buildings and crumbled
roads make towns in Sichuan.
Rice doesn’t grow
in the gravelly
mountains, or dusty

Four trains a day leave
Sichuan for Guangzhou,
and I am on one.

In Guangzhou, I find a sliver
of the city. Each factory grinds
my fingernails
into machine grease.


I buy a noodle shack.

The locals don’t pay
after eating
because I am not
from Guangzhou.

The day after I complain
flames soot
the broken glass
of my shack’s windows.


I send
my hometown sisters to lobbies
and make cold
calls to hotel rooms
for money.

The girls all have the same fate—
it’s how they make a home.


My sisters, with bruises
too fresh swelling
under their eyes
say I beat
them. The police
my lawyer from the trial
room’s door.
His tie
is the wrong

The judge
tells the courtroom
my crimes
are not serious
and the evidence
is insufficient.

I am sentenced
to death.