I carried around for the
whole day a fresh banana

Winniebell Zong


that I stole from a reception at Sheraton
Times Square Hotel in the gelid New York City.
It would defrost in the warm carriage
of Amtrak 655 Keystone by dusk, and my heart
would turn dark and soft, too.

I left the Starbucks of the hotel lobby,
whose barista had kindly pointed at the tiny
bottle of green juice in my hand that I
was going to buy
in exchange for their free Wi-Fi
and said, “That, Miss, is nine ninety-nine.”

The broken wheel on my suitcase hobbled
toward Penn Station, coughing all the while.
It rolled past second-hand smoke,
sniffles, suede-coat sweat, sirens, and single
strangers, on the streets soiled by frozen phlegm,
frozen gum, frozen gutter, and frozen streams
of dog pee under the scaffolding of
New York, New York.

A white man sat by a lamppost, buried
by his own arms, hand raising
a Starbucks glass half-full
of coins and dollar bills
and with only a God Bless sticker
on its side.

A small Chinese aunty
wore a dirty pink overall bulging
from head to toe, tea-stained teeth
begging a Canada Goose to take a takeout
menu of “Hong Kong Restaurant”
from her orange-gloved hands.

A brown man by the crossroad choked
on the biting air when he cried,
“Does anyone want to talk to a Latino
for the first time?” and forced white breaths
out, which took short-lived uprisings
and dispersed into the same sky
that pigeons shit from.


Winniebell Xinyu Zong is a poet and djembe player. She was born and raised in an industrial city in China. Zong holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Franklin and Marshall College, where she received Nolt Music Award and Honaman Japanese Study Fund. Her work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in Rigorous, High Shelf Press, Whiskey Island, and Little Patuxent Review, among others. She now mentors high school students on college access at College Advising Corps.