Two Poems by Kristin Chang

 

my obituary is available for pre-order
Kristin Chang

 

im driving around with you, white boy
in a honda suv
my ancestors all piled in the backseat,
a stack of ghosts
like bruised-back playing cards
we stop at a 7/11 and i buy infant
cough syrup while your tongue plays my
teeth. i can see the veins mapping your
eyelids into hostile territory, your wrist
gripped in my throat. you call me your best
ghost and i dream about selling my dead
dog on craigslist. with my face slotted
into yours i dream about spreading
my mother’s ashes into a feast
honey im home and i died
to get here
confession: i like the smell of my own shit
confession: i really like to cook
confession: i deboned a whole frozen chicken with my teeth
a kind of hunger the shade of
wolf. i survived two wars you’ve livetweeted
my hunger is a throat opening on the back of my
left hand. it feeds on snow the color
of meat, it feeds on operas about
white soldiers and brown women
i guess you and i would look great in a painting
or a YahooNews headline
im already wearing a mask of your face
you’re already clothing me in photocopies
of your hands
you blasting schoolgirl j-pop, whistling along
like a bullet
while my body holds me hostage
in the passenger seat, while i
drape my skin over the month of february
is this cleanliness
to die before you are named? tomorrow i
might drown in a birdbath, a grapefruit pulped
between my legs. tomorrow my father will drop
a bone in the bathtub. i couch my face in
saltwater, remember what it’s like to swim
anyway. my tongue pinned
to the inside of your cheek:
mouth a museum
of things already dead

 

 

Aftermath

 

  for my parents and all other refugees

 

We flee our shadows clotting into
nighttime. Mother looses her molars

one by one and rolls them like dice,
something like prayer: the echo of light

off teeth, the act of swallowing. Boys
sleep inside the dark of their fists, night:

a scab of hands carving you out
of your body. Mother’s hands are eels

born on land, slipping like time
into hunger, the future tense of her

body is my body, the future tense of our
bones is prayer: my mother’s first american

boyfriend tells her ownership is a form
of hearing. I align my hand’s shadows

to forget, I confess that my mouth
swings open like a door, I confess

that my hunger is not
holy, that I swallowed

a fork hoping it would rattle
my ribs like a windchime. Listen:

a body born to be itself. Listen:
my name in your mouth

a synonym for slaughter. You pray
for a flesh that preludes thirst,

for a thigh that fits in a drainpipe,
call this cleanliness, mother

says she loves to clean,
erases herself daily

like the moon from the sky. I
never wanted this. For my tongue

to be your saddle, my ashes to be
your empire. Knowledge is something

in the mouth, like an apple. Like a fist.
I disown my shadow, let it bruise the wall.

In my dreams my mother is on her knees,
not a saint but a shrine, untouchable,

on fire. Then she rises, lifts me to land
the way a wound carries its hurt.

 

 

KRISTIN CHANG (kristinchang.com) lives in California. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in DIALOGIST, Powder Keg Magazine, BOAAT, SOFTBLOW, Moonsick Magazine, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for two Best of the Net Awards and is currently on staff of Winter Tangerine Review. She is at work on a series of essays about indigeneity and refuge.