By: Michael Chang

There’s no telling what languishes inside the body”—Robin Coste Lewis

~      ~

Secret society called the Cat’s Paw        fellow travellers & tragic queen Akhmatova
              I don’t remember when I found God                but recall the first time I laid eyes on Harry
It’s impolite to say “blind barber” these days                 they prefer “blind hairdresser”

              Don’t waste your time axing    spend your time doing            
If you’re not moving    you’re falling behind   
                            Last of the English Roses         parents reincarnated as children

             Raise me to your mouth            Batty boi          show off your batty shus       
they’re Gucci                 snapped up inna jiffy                             innit

I love you like a fat kid love cake           feed me my favorite lies I mean lines
If only I had iron bands strapped around my heart      to keep it from breaking           I wish I were
grey cliffs          a heart-shaped lake on Pluto                  no longer a planet       illusive like justice

Tell me abt the lonely boat       elusive like remembering          hedgehogs disguised as chocolates           
              I tolerate woodpeckers              I hate running out of breath      I have always loved the gaps
the spaces between things        as much as the things    I dissolve in you like the fizzy water tablets
popularized in the 80s              taste my lactose intolerance      you’re unlucky like the Lao
the idiot white cops handed right back to         Jeffrey Dahmer                            Ray Antrobus won the
Geoffrey Dearmer Prize             Clare wants to know abt the lizard brain           the lizard testified abt
Benghazi for 11 hrs        English the language of oppression      to be perfectly honest 
              I’m tired of the violence

Erasure is lazy  like you                           your manuscript is repetitive & dull     bloated & forgettable
stale & smug                   unbelievably dour & boring      Holy sweet chili & tea-smoked duck
             there are no insights to be found here

Coulda been a frat boy             coulda been a nightmare            stump of cat
Queerer than Abe[]      Guiltier than Cain         you ax if T.S. Eliot was the undercover womxn
In the future white supremacy will not need white ppl laughing so hard at Keith S. Wilson’s line
see the corona of your face               talk abt unfortunate                   Azn lady broke up the Beatles
Funny how the British say clerk                           like “clark” like Kent like Bruce’s boots

I cut my hair to resemble a tomboy      I don’t like how my name sounds
coming from his mouth            weak & uncertain          His lips of sweet clover
             gaslighting bastard tongue        perfect for praise & compulsory heterosexuality

Lingering over my vowels          well-intentioned but missing the mark               I am his mark
Barging in on somebody else’s meet cute           I’m worried no fearful he’ll say ching chong next
He’ll be tempted to tell me what I already know                           Transfixed by his sound
consonants hanging precariously           mouth a delicate assembly       I bathe in his syllables               
              love his intimate access point                ah yes                 Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are dead

What does it mean to live          I don’t believe in coming clean              but I think of you often
I can’t hear you                            come in the water          tell me what’s good      pull me into black

Suppose a curfew          suppose a window       suppose a mattress       suppose a breeze
suppose scorpions in a bottle               suppose butterflies in a mason jar            hey you missed a spot

A Lambda Literary fellow, MICHAEL CHANG (they/them) was awarded the Kundiman Scholarship at the Miami Writers Institute. A finalist in contests at the Iowa Review, BOMB, NightBlock, & many others, their poems have been nominated for Best of the Net & the Pushcart Prize. Their manuscript big shot manifesto was selected by Rae Armantrout as a finalist for the Fonograf Editions Open Genre Book Prize, & another was a finalist in the Diode Editions Book Contest.