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Four poems by Michael Chang

sunday poem 7533967

he knew about saltwater taffy which is to say he knew red swimsuit and jersey shore which is to say ok boomer which is to say i was today years old when i learned this which is to say if a joke is told on snl is that the kiss of death which is to say i listened to your most controversial food opinion which is to say pretty green eyes that forgive which is to say it’s cuffing season which is to say too handsome to be taken seriously cedric diggory which is to say kill the spare which is to say urgent and necessary which is to say joe biden is one of us which is to say he knows the cost of a gallon of milk in 1978 which is to say sending a kid to college in 1980 which is to say sending a kid off to war in 1990 which is to say i stand with joe because which is to say he stands up for the pharmaceuticals and wall street which is to say somewhere in my car which is to say daring and vital voice which is to say don’t pull your punches which is to say 明察秋毫 (seeing clearly the downy feather of autumn; sensitive to the finest detail; omniscient) which is to say know your references which is to say we deserve to laugh which is to say we deserve to be entertained which is to say “doorwalkers” which is to say i thought you said “dogwalkers” which is to say “extra men” which is to say “confirmed bachelors” which is to say polite society which is to say bill blass and charles addams and norman mailer and halston which is to say valentine to ___ which is to say the same conversation swimming in my head which is to say my mother would’ve named me victoria if i were a girl which is to say gramsci said history teaches but has no pupils which is to say i admittedly don’t feel as angry (?) as i should about billionaires buying the election which is to say don’t revoke my progressive card which is to say any of them would be better than #45 which is to say except tulsi gabbard which is to say bloomberg is problematic but semi-competent which is to say buttigieg gets mad when challenged and his face puffs up and he has zero support with people of color which is to say does he even love chasten which is to say kamala should be catching fire which is to say klobuchar is a nutjob plain and simple which is to say she was shaking like a leaf which is to say midwest means white which is to say that’s disqualifying which is to say who’s our standard-bearer which is to say what about post-heart-attack bernie which is to say do the debates matter which is to say warren has a plan for that which is to say god laughs ha ha ha which is to say tattoo sleeves on lean beckham arms which is to say brooklyn which is to say play him like a ken doll which is to say l’amour n’existe pas, mais la preuve d’amour existe (love does not exist, but the proof of love exists) which is to say am i supposed to find adam driver attractive

le bain de cristal

rené magritte, circa 1946—49

. . .

. . .

Madame President

I rise today

Ass crack of dawn

An outfit that works

Jeter’s not my dog, I just support him

I’m flattered when mistaken for a college student

I didn’t realize ear candling was junk science

I don’t know where my yearbooks have gone

I’m not writing about gun violence

Who wants to read about that?

I read the Wikipedia entries of scary movies

Like the Crow with Brandon Lee

What if you were trapped in an airline magazine?

Midwestern steakhouses, shitty sweatshop shirts

Conventionally-attractive whiteboys

The world is right there but you stay in Omaha

Boys love your wood sage & sea salt

Their heads whip around

They ask you to dance

Take that, Becky

It isn’t healthy to dwell on how unresponsive Congress is

We all know Congress doesn’t do shit

Yes it’s completely captured by industry

I’d rather talk about my special interest in you

Your term-limit proposal is garbage

Because you’ll have new people who can’t even find the bathroom

And they’re going to be equally corrupt

So you’re really just trading a bunch of incontinent hacks for another

On Earth We’re Briefly (Cherry Chapstick)

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of (Funny Azn Writers)

White Rabbit Creamy Candy

Edible Chinese paper soft and inoffensive

In your mind you’ve moved in with him

Living together in that Potemkin village

Your immigrant work ethic

Time waits for no man

You really like his

Big, uncut



I like when whiteboy-Azn girl couples stare at me

With the full realization

That they have both

Narrowly escaped my clutches

Your poetry is pointless rambling

Your poetry is a screaming queen

Your poetry is evil poet Chen Chen

Let’s instead have our pillowtalk about superdelegates

It’s not colonialism

It’s sadism

Forget hearts and minds

Why don’t you follow your own advice?

People think politicians don’t care because nothing ever changes

They’re right

People think politics is elitist

Yes but clearly any buffoon can do it

People think party labels define someone’s character

In this day and age, maybe

People think what they do matters to humanity

If you’re rich and white, maybe

They say I write for dominant gaze



I write for subs too

Citizens United

No money no honey

Happy wife happy life

Mother’s milk of poetry

You bloom

You ache

You want justice

Butterface Ansel Elgort folds me into origami

If we had an actual conversation

You would know that “anything”


“anything but Chinese”

No fats

No femmes

No Azns

No fun

You thought Oscar de la Renta still alive

You confused fugu (pufferfish) with fugue (????)

You mistook me for my Azn colleague

Haha jokes I have no Azn colleagues

So many poets are all doom and gloom

When there’s a blackout, the murderers come out

It’s that type of society

What do you want from me?

Her new bloke looks like partial birth abortion

The heart of a flea and the brain of a shark

Notable talent

Catch sperm with mouth

Culture warrior’s manifesto

How to be alone

Dirty hustler

You are bent

Where are you really from

The future

Your English is very good

Yeah and you look like Leni Riefenstahl cousin

You people are so smart

Yeah just don’t make me do calculus


Waiting for heartache

Fast love orange Play-Doh

Tangy despacito lime meringue pie

Sweet is the memory of past troubles.”—Cicero

Dear Sir or Madam

Sounds too binary

So are we back to

To Whom It May Concern

They parrot the talking points

They say the right lines

They make you believe

But it’s a shell game

Watch their hands

They still vote wrong

. . .

. . .

electric lemon

You know the story

He became the rain

Then a roaring fire

Face impassive

Flames licking warm & thick & ferocious

The furl of his shirt in hot air

The room glowed

The walls cracked & fissured

The ceiling deposited poisonous fruit

It was a forest & then it wasn’t

She watched the boy disappear into a man

& the man disappear into a desert

When the basement started filling with foxes

They vowed never to play house again

solitaire boys follow me



As my head is bowed over meatloaf, I see God. Damn it, I think, should’ve gotten wings. Dude, I tell God, I’ve had a really long day. I make a mental note, the world is a mess but his hair is perfect.



He stands there, all musk & indecision, looking like he never misses a session of SoulCycle, figuring out how to love me. After much thought and prayer, he feeds me bacon & heart disease. It feels like home, truly, as the color drains out of my Roadrunner sweatshirt. I confess, I don’t know how to make the prophecy better.



God fastens himself to my body, we are wild horses running in tandem, poppies in his opium war. Sugar, I say, don’t worry. I don’t need anything from Tiffany. He looks relieved.



Sometime later, I spot him holding court at Little Caesars, my invitation conspicuously lost in the mail. Another time, he’s papped on the Spanish Steps in his burnt orange polo, arm around a blond boy named Jasper.



betrayal, 背叛, rewind, 倒帶



I leave God a voicemail. Tell me how you want it, I plead. Love begets jealousy begets hate begets love begets nothing left. I hope I remember not to die in worship. Problem is, I don’t want to sleep alone.


MICHAEL CHANG (they/them) poets to feel alive. Their writing has been published or is forthcoming in The Minnesota Review, Yellow Medicine Review, Heavy Feather Review, Thin Air, ellipsis... literature & art, Q/A Poetry, Yes Poetry, Typo Mag, Wrath-Bearing Tree, Bending Genres, The Hunger, Cabildo Quarterly, Willawaw Journal, Neon Garden, The Conglomerate, Queen Mob's Tea House, London Grip, Rogue Agent, Kissing Dynamite, BULL Fiction, Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine, Collective Unrest, Pink Plastic House, Little Rose, Milk + Beans, and elsewhere. They are the proud recipient of a Brooklyn Poets fellowship.  

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