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Category: Jennifer Chang

On Emotion

It was inside, gathering heat in her blood, slowly killing her.

No one said a word.

And this grew her fury further, grieved her immeasurably.

What did it look like.

A knot, or a slag of granite.

I imagined another brother, unborn for he was only a knot.

How my granite brother would never leave her.

I grew up in her abject sadness, which soon became our speaking.

And then I left.

Smaller, smaller, he was her favorite.

Jays nag the first light.

And now I am awake before dawn hoping today is a day when I won’t

have to say anything.

And then I.

To me, it was unintelligible.

I could see through her skin, see my brother not growing inside her.

Would he ever come outside.

The raging jays, the squawking catastrophe.

I wanted to know.

What is the difference between a son and a daughter, I wanted to know.

That is private.

That was her answer.

from Some Say the LarkFind more by Jennifer Chang at the library

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer Chang
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

About Trees

What I would say about certain trees

is that to master love one must be devastated by it.

Certain trees know.

A poem has nothing to do with fact,

though both are made things.

I explain that certain trees know

certain facts, but what poems.

Our son is a rutabaga.

To him, everything

is a rutabaga.

___

What were we talking about last night,

listening to the fan, falling asleep?

___

I’ve been thinking about things

as the source from which all thought rises.

Not as omens, signs, talismans, tokens, symbols,

figures of speech, or ideas.

A thing introduces a thought and is never more than a thing.

Yes, that sounds right.

The E detached from my silver love ring;

there was no meaning to it, though now I know

the saleswoman was likely false. Her calming nod

against fragility. It will tarnish,

but it will not crack

as the plates will crack. The thought

of you not listening when I ask again

what it means.

Family heirloom plates I hate. These small windows

bring in no light.

I’ve stared at what’s most broken in you.

An unintelligibility

to the flat sheet sliding off of me,

a silent body is not always asleep.

Even when happiest I think about dying.

___

I want to remember how

his face turned down

and took away our light

to become a first order of love.

___

A woman once opened my hand in her smoked palms

and told me I would be dead in a week.

Then put out your cigarette right here,

I dared, pointing to

my truth spot

or whatever she called it,

a whisper of a wrinkle on my skin.

That’s the story you’d like me to tell

as our son naps fitfully in the other room.

Also the one about swimming

on a high floor of the Hancock Tower.

Both stories end the same way.

___

Crust of sugar at the bottom of your glass.

Keys to whatever doors we’ve forgotten.

Mostly used lipstick in Shanghai Nights,

a garish red. The paper sheath of a straw

which for a precious five minutes served as his toy.

Little notes to myself I can’t bear to throw away.

All waste we shall bequeath to our heir. Our air.

___

from Some Say the LarkFind more by Jennifer Chang at the library

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer Chang
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Dorothy Wordsworth

The daffodils can go fuck themselves.

I’m tired of their crowds, yellow rantings

about the spastic sun that shines and shines

and shines. How are they any different

from me? I, too, have a big messy head

on a fragile stalk. I spin with the wind.

I flower and don’t apologize. There’s nothing

funny about good weather. Oh, spring again,

the critics nod. They know the old joy,

that wakeful quotidian, the dark plot

of future growing things, each one

labeled Narcissus nobilis or Jennifer Chang.

If I died falling from a helicopter, then

this would be an important poem. Then

the ex-boyfriends would swim to shore

declaiming their knowledge of my bulbous

youth. O, Flower, one said, why aren’t you

meat? But I won’t be another bashful shank.

The tulips have their nervous joie de vivre,

the lilacs their taunt. Fractious petals, stop

interrupting me with your boring beauty.

All the boys are in the field gnawing raw

bones of ambition and calling it ardor. Who

the hell are they? This is a poem about war.

from Some Say the LarkFind more by Jennifer Chang at the library

Copyright © 2017 Jennifer Chang
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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