Categories
2021 Poetry

Irène P. Mathieu

haibun in the year of return

the ocean                     I cried drunkenly        is my mother

you tipped your head              sea spray slipped into your throat

I wanted to walk into the high tide–              not to die, exactly,

but to feel better

                                    the aftershocks of becoming

oscillating       in the dark century   –

                                                            two months later

on another coast, we gorge on salted shrimp and crab

legs                  I hate myself for judging the mom way

all the mothers clasp their toddlers’ fingers with wet wipes

and twist                                 we go home where all

we want to do is drink water after water

in Ghana I saw sheets of sardines spread out to dry

along the road like metal earth shields deflecting

the equatorial light—                reminded me of my mother

protecting us from ourselves              at the end of the

dust road, waving with fingers the size of continents for

me to keep walking, that she’d meet me on the other—

I remember you kept losing a shoe to the water

as she chased us up the beach, back toward the

safety net of palms      and as we scuttled you

murmured nauseously,

do you love me? are

you sure?

                        do you remember?

I ask, my hands

still smelling like Old Bay and shrimp shells, but

you shake your head no.

                                    a better question would be,

how?   though nothing I summon would explain the

sequence of events nor fully recollect the ships,

the planes, all the near-death twisted from our finger-

tips before being released from mother’s grip.

I can’t fathom it                      I mean I cannot

plumb this kind of depth                     I’m six feet under

the surface and still not sure

what my mother means.


there are days

rage burns a hole through both hands.
I hear my descendants more loudly these
days, asking for answers. one use of a
uterus: anger machine, hot fist in my belly.

there will be a day I’ll have to explain where I was,
which insects I sheltered, what I did with my money.
my chest a witness. in the documentary they forgave
the murderer – something something religion

but all I could pull up after were cramping sobs,
three-day panic – a kind of birth. in slow motion
my anxiety is actually grief. suddenly I can’t
imagine a comfort other than saltwater.

these days bumblebees have become
precious – sweet fumblers of fertility
bobbing around my tomato flowers.
no, I didn’t ask to be angry. yes, I knew

it would settle along my bones and under
my spleen. yes, in those days medicine was
lavender steam, mugs of tea, and begging
forgiveness of the future. my congested bloodbag.

I don’t want to be a murderer but I still
pay taxes. now my palms are windows.
I plunge them into the bowl of my pelvis.
there are days I stir and stir and never cool.


the forest fire of family trees

the problem is we don’t know
that many ways of doing things
for instance, neither of us can
fry an egg without public radio
chattering in our ears, & there
are worse blueprints for a home,
like what my grandfather taught
my uncle. we think we know
people until we see the way
they eat a banana, totally unlike
how we peel and devour the fruit,
only instead of eating a banana
it’s something way bigger,
like loving another person.
as the snowflakes get thicker
I hear myself say exactly
what my mother would say
when faced with this same
situation, and I say it
in her voice. it’s not that I’m
ashamed to share all my DNA
and most of my life with these
two people, it’s just that I worry.
it’s not easy to recognize
the odor of toxins you
release, day after day,
which, when rearranged,
spells door. you cross
the threshold & think it’s just
the cologne of the world,
not the smoke in your
blood, not grass burning
from the little fires ignited
by your feet.


Irène P. Mathieu (she/her) is a pediatrician and writer. She is the author of Grand Marronage (Switchback Books, 2019), orogeny (Trembling Pillow Press, 2017), and the galaxy of origins (dancing girl press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in American Poetry ReviewNarrativeBoston ReviewVirginia Quarterly ReviewCallalooTriQuarterly, and elsewhere. The recipient of fellowships from Fulbright, Callaloo, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, she is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Virginia.

Categories
2021 Poetry

Despy Boutris

EMOTIONAL CHECK-IN WITH DISASSOCIATION

She is not the fire but the smoke.

She is not the fallen spruce but the ground.

She is not the cricketcall but the echo

of the cricketcall, the steady screech

persisting even in sleep, unable to flee from.

Even I want to flee from her, and she is me.

Like disease she makes a home in me.

Of me. She smells of exhaust, and dirt

perpetually stains her knees. She knows

there are men out there who want to sweep

her off her feet. They want to love her,

to try their luck with her. She wants to buy a bus

and drive cross-country on her own.

To cut off her feet and sew them back

straight. She wants to be brave enough to speak.

She wants to speak in first-person again.

To say what she’s thinking: I want to be brave

enough to speak.


ANNIVERSARY

This meadow
used to be our meadow.

Now       in the raindrizzle
at sundown
my fingers grasp
fistfuls of grass, yank sodblades
from sodden roots                          
and crush clovers in my grips. 
A plane jets overhead,
  tilts
toward the lantern-
light of the Moon,
and braids into gray clouds
soft as autumn gossamer,

and I’m warring
against this whirling, twirling
                               earth
to keep alive,
for that butterfly
still flutters in ribs
somewhere—somewhere
where every bud
(of every flower)
blooms and blossoms
like a bruise,
where threads aren’t unra-
veled, where trusts aren’t bro-
ken,        where wings
(and hearts) aren’t torn,

              where our landings
aren’t       crash landings.


PALMISTRY

after Stevie Edwards

In this story we’re middle-aged, sitting
on the shoreline in the rain, the tide
more hiss than hum. Like crabs, our feet
burrow in the sand, toes flushing
in the cold. You turn toward me, start
talking about the past, that lunar eclipse,
the year the mustard blooms bombed
the hillside. In the beginning, you say,
I offered to read your palm
just so I could hold your hand. The wind
bellows, telling the future
of an incoming storm. We start
making a mound, cupped hands full
of sand, and it feels good to make
something together again. In this story
we’ll go home and assemble root beer
floats and watch the sky turn to fire.
We’ve lived long enough to know
how beautiful flames can be—sunset
a whirr of reds. We know the value
of these little moments: this breeze,
this seaside, sassafras root, the past,
this hand, reaching out—


Despy Boutris’s writing has been published or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, American Poetry Review, The Journal, Colorado Review, The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston and serves as Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast, Guest Editor for Palette Poetry and Frontier, and Editor-in-Chief of The West Review.

Categories
2021 Poetry

TR Brady

not pictured

I want to tell you what it looked like    I was in the yard the yard with the truck

stuck in the ruts of its own making      of rain             joy replaced by another

more available feeling              the truck always getting stuck moving branches

to the burn pile                        I was scraping up my calves     red lugging limbs

to finish the weekend work                  the neighbor’s Husky had been downing

chickens for weeks so it’s no surprise it eventually got the Maltese

so we had to bury him out back           I was reluctant to eat   

from the nearby honeysuckle bush      I was reluctant to eat    that kind of nature

sleepless, I tried to hunt           a locust one night but              

just their shells and their shells soundless         I ran around shirtless for long as I could

wanting my image                    to be reproduced         in just cargo shorts and sandals           

I never swam               in the pond past the pile but when warm

I would lay on the water          warped deck and swirl the oily surface

the hands stretched out on the water were like mine

because of course they were    treading          


[[wobble twilight, river landing

I’m not my muscle man, I keep spinning
the creation of spinning
the product of spinning
the byproduct of spinning
ravels along the paved tributary path
I skate to skim off my estrogen
in the wet summer where everything is edging
forward I flicker along the stream
which for most of the year is flood or freeze.
the river, the rocks banking the river,
the rocks loved up on by the river,
are sharp and naked and new
as new as rocks can be and actual
and ugly in their unnature. too far down
slope to touch. far from the real hawk
minding her own. the late x transforms to early
y. I am building corporeal.
my sweat stings, my eye says so.
a long coming cloud. the late day transforms
to early night. I pick up my pulse.
the dam churns the rapids out.
I’m downstream heading up.


TR Brady is a poet and fiber artist based in Iowa City. TR’s writing has appeared in Bennington Review, The Spectacle, Denver Quarterly, and Copper Nickel. TR holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is the co-founder/co-editor of Afternoon Visitor, a new journal of poetry and hybrid text.

Categories
2021 Poetry

Anthony Thomas Lombardi

dirge for the last night of Eric Dolphy’s life,
in two movements

i.


the needle’s glint harsh against the mock porcelain
of the bathroom sink: the difference between what
I’m told & what is coming to define my
relationship with the truth. years later, I’m still
using silk & bone to stitch my wounds. once, my
aunt asked me to piss in a cup for her—stuttered
something about the time toxins take to escape
your body. during my own stay in detox, I carefully
count seconds between shallow breaths. I’ve seen
my grandmother, hands steady as stone, prick
blood from her finger, sink medication into her
skin, & already I’m considering the depth of my
deluge.

ii.
after​ Shawn Carter


in Berlin, ​shock​ becomes a word without rendering.
a horn is muted like swallowed thunder, humming

amid lights the hue of bourbon: it sits there dumbly,
one brass syllable twisted into entropy. a holy messenger

slips between fissures like sharp wind
through an open mouth. in its raw pink:

jars of honey, a crying peacock, the vulture’s
slow spiral around heaven’s floor. even in this dying

a drop of blood could paint portraits
more vivid than stars. but history isn’t kind to men

who play God, damn near lethal, infected with ​d’evils
—& just like that, a body is freed of its haunting, cold

limbs calcified: a transatlantic song unfurling
a thaw of missed notes. even the gods will starve.


the night of Dexter Gordon’s comeback

we consider our reckoning across aisles dank & narrow

with palms so soft they could cradle
a cracked egg. in the ashen end-
of-day, we recommit

to crimes of passion, raise sacrifices

out of cinders like chalices to our lips. by morning,
the cruel workmanship of a bee
brings the colors in every flower

to pop: pale primrose, stabbing hyacinth, deep

probing peony. smeared fingers that crave the cleanse
of an open throat: plush & carnivorous, their beauty
unblinking.

I just walked into the room & they applauded.

then cherries, so many cherries, the first of springtime.
in their pluck is a hint of ignominy: in their glint, a sliver
of psalm. we shield our eyes & the marrow in our bones

vibrates. how sweet the sound. how sweet—


Anthony Thomas Lombardi is a Pushcart-nominated poet, organizer, and educator. He has previously served as Assistant Director for Polyphony Lit‘s Summer Scholars Program, and currently runs Word is Bond, a reading series that benefits bail funds across the country, in conjunction with the Adroit Journal, where he also serves as a poetry reader and contributor. His work has appeared or will soon in Guernica, North American Review, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, THRUSH, Passages North, Cherry Tree, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn with his cat, Dilla.

Categories
2021 Poetry

Ricky Ray

A WALK IN THE WOODS*

Addie has a little rush in her step as we enter the woods.
She isn’t alone. Fall feels like someone has stuck his hand
in and snipped out my soul, I mean the hand has come out
wearing the most exquisite glove the weather has to offer
and is waving everywhere at me in godcolors and golds.

But there’s something missing: the chill within:
the soul’s absence calling it back. I’m not sure it should listen,
at least not yet. I’m trying to unlearn the rhythms of the city.
Maybe I can’t, but already the woods feel like home.
Humans were never a species I was given to understand.

My kind have rough barks, trunks and a desire to hold steady,
which may be a function of how poorly my legs work. Then again,
does any species understand itself? That’s a question for the ether,
not the ear. In the forest the walls of my mind come down
and thoughts stumble out of their tortured apartments to think.

The world is spacious, after all. And my arboreal friends
are busy perfecting the seven-thousand kinds of quiet.
It’s conversational, not shushes but whispers that spill from branch
to branch the secrets of the Earth. These secrets: to know them
is to live them, they spend the way a conductor moves his hand.

And the trees are full of conductors. Every time I look up
into a canopy, I see a mind at work. Whose, though?
Did the trees conjure birdsong? Or did the birds sing the trees
up and around them? Or did they meet in the middle,
treesong finding an outlet in feathered throats?

At some point the birds lift up in unison and flock out of sight.
The leaves flap and fall like waves upon the water.
The estuary of the mind gives way to the amniotic ocean
it inhabits
                   and the sensation
                                                  is no longer
                                                                       one of walking:
                              it’s one of being walked.


Ricky Ray is a disabled poet, critic and editor who lives on the outskirts of the Hudson Valley. He is the author of Fealty (Diode Editions, 2019) and the forthcoming chapbooks: Quiet, Grit, Glory (Broken Sleep Books, 2020) and The Sound of the Earth Singing to Herself (Fly on the Wall Press, 2020). He is the founding editor of Rascal: A Journal of Ecology, Literature and Art, and his awards include the Cormac McCarthy Prize, the Ron McFarland Poetry Prize, and a Liam Rector fellowship, among others. His work appears widely in periodicals and journals, including The American Scholar, Verse Daily, Diode Poetry Journal and The Moth. He was educated at Columbia University and the Bennington Writing Seminars, and can be found hobbling in the old green hills with his old brown dog, Addie.

* this poem appears in Ricky Ray’s chapbook The Sound of the Earth Singing to Herself

Categories
2021 Poetry

Gabrielle Grace Hogan

WHERE WILL YOU GO NOW?
after Chen Chen

from blue-ringed Peoria
night-streets. from shirts

yellowed with sweat. from
pedantic rage. from Lorde

at low fuzz. from genitals
unused. from the same material

as ducks & traffic cones are made of.
from orgasm bouquet. from the Cooper

& Laura intersection
where the house you lived in

saw its next tenant hung.
from hollow foreplay. from tonsil

abscess. from tonal absence.
from horses whole & healthy

in a pasture plump with
Kentucky rain. from Roman

Catholicism. from a rooftop,
peering up. from knees bent

to the bed, weeping so much so
the whole town goes damp

with longing for drought.


CHOICE PARALYSIS

i’m writing about love
i’m writing up & down
about love
i’m pissing
with the door open—
that’s​ love
the hardest thing
i’ve ever said
i haven’t
if you’re so human how many
traffic lights are in
my mouth right now?
i wish you would take yourself home
the heart
is a symbol
i use in my poems
the heart
is a t-shirt cannon snapped
like a good bone
what if
& let me
be very clear
i mean if
my fingers hooked
on either side of your
mouth & pulled?
is that
technically
a smile?
what if
i wake up
& you’re still here?
for the love
of god
what am i
supposed to do then?


CONTRAPPOSTO

the blonde cheerleader
embroiders bees into a dress
so her skin always buzzes
the blonde cheerleader
transmutes into the night sky
which transmutes into a rat
skittering under a city
the boys in the hats going places
cross over an infinity of rats
sloshed & slumped in
sewer fungus in stale pale
water girls cut their hair short
when they want something
out of you i’ve learned not to kiss
the falling blade don’t
stand too close i’m repulsive
with want i want
to be my mother’s daughter before
i was my mother’s daughter
to flood the dirty wet museum of want
with the semen i will never make
the blonde cheerleader
comes close to touching doesn’t
they crown her prom queen
in a thunder of fleas i thunder
my chin against a swimming
pool’s lip toxins need a way
to leave the body
she is beautiful like an aquarium
she is afraid the aquarium will
crack like an eyelid in the dark


Gabrielle Grace Hogan is a poet from St. Louis, MO currently living in Austin, TX while pursuing her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Her work has been published by the Academy of American Poets, Nashville Review, Kissing Dynamite, Passages North, and more. She is the Poetry Editor of Bat City Review and Co-Editor of You Flower / You Feast, an online anthology inspired by the music of Harry Styles. Her social media and projects can be found on here.

Categories
2021 Poetry

Chelsea Harlan

SONNET NEAR ZYZZYX

We slept sitting up like it was the Middle Ages
in our car in the parking lot at a rest stop in the desert
somewhere near Zyzzyx, California
when all I wanted was to get out of California
and my menstrual cup filled with my own chunky blood
and the sun came up like a trend over the faraway rocks
I dreamt a falcon took the diamond from my necklace
and he wouldn’t give it back
and you said the symbolism was heavy and obvious
and I thought yeah, like a stone
or a professional wrestler whose ring name says what he does
Big Boss Man, Spanky, Virgil the Kentucky Butcher
The heater had been on high all night heating
My mascara masked my eyes like a racoon


I HAVE YET MORE ESOTERICISM TO SHARE

At the Santa Cruz Public Storage
sharing a too-hard persimmon
I hate what we’ve gone through
but I love that we’ve gone through it

But where was all the wildlife?
Why is the werewolf shirtless all the time?
When danger takes you by the ankles
you slip out of your socks like aha


Chelsea Harlan holds a BA from Bennington College and an MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. Her poems are forthcoming or have appeared in Sixth FinchHobartSouthwest ReviewThe Greensboro Poetry ReviewAmerican Poetry Review, and The Southern Poetry Anthology. She is the co-author of the chapbook Mummy (Montez Press, 2019), and the recipient of the 2019-2020 Mikrokosmos Poetry Prize. She lives in Brooklyn.

Categories
2021 Poetry

Mónica Gomery

HALLELUYAH

I’m a molar wedged deep inside the back of her mouth. Oh,
the way she runs her tongue over me feels for scraps but
I feel gathered in. Oh, the way she says my name, everything
crowded into it, how fully she turns me, inside-out like a garment
shakes the sand out of me. How she knows and unknows me
pushes me away and is cosmos, the burning nose of each star.
I’m a seed, she’s soil folding me in. Compost of phone lines, trash bins
beers drunk on rooftops in cities. She is crooning and rageful, sweaters
and droughts, she does not speak but Oh, how she speaks
the sun woven through tree limbs, her voice in the oceanic lifting
of humans in song. Her voice roasts salt into zucchini, electrifies
hungering limbs of entangled teenagers, lays ​palms against
every war zone, collision, every waterlogged island, ​her voice
every mouth of every bird and every volume of Talmud. ​Oh child
she shovels light into me ​ Oh child​, she taught me to hold a body
with my own hands while all the breath left it, ​Oh small thing
she carves her voice through my mind, ​small small cherished thing
her voice mountains into me hurricanes into me, crashes
around me and the gratitude hurts so much I think it will rip me clean
end to end. She ​wraps me in worry, ​ swaddles me against city, she teaches
me love so I’ll always be hungry. She teaches me Hebrew so I’ll always
be longing, so I can use the language of my greatest great uncles to thank her
to say please, all of our eyes wilting into the mystery, the words crack like frozen
rain on our eyelashes, shake all of our heads. ​Oh vessel​, she whispers
as I mourn and surrender ​Oh precious ​​ you’re so important and unimportant
you’re so good and already forgotten​. She says, ​Stop hurting yourself, stop
hurting others. ​I’m on my knees she is that burning in my bent
is the night, cloaks me when I can’t sleep, ​Take a walk​, ​touch
all of my quilts, ​says, ​bang any object against another to find me​.


Mónica Gomery is a poet and rabbi, raised by her Venezuelan Jewish family in Boston and Caracas, and now living on Lenni Lenape land in Philadelphia. Her work explores queerness, diaspora, ancestry, theology, and cultivating courageous hearts. She is the author of Here is the Night and the Night on the Road (Cooper Dillon Books, 2018), and the chapbook Of Darkness and Tumbling (YesYes Books, 2017). She is the winner of the 2020 Minola Review Poetry Contest, and has been a finalist in both the Newfound Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize and the Cutthroat Journal Joy Harjo Poetry Contest. Her poetry can be found most recently in Frontier, Foglifter, Ninth Letter, Interim, Southern Indiana Review, and as a Poetry Foundation Poem of The Day. Read more here.

Categories
2020 Poetry

Megan Neville


Megan Neville is a writer and educator based in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Rust Belt Love Song (Game Over Books, 2019), and her work has been published by or is forthcoming in The Academy of American Poets (Poets.org), Cherry Tree, Cream City Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Longleaf Review, Lunch Ticket, Jelly Bucket, and elsewhere. She is a poetry reader for Split Lip Magazine, and was a finalist in Write Bloody’s 2019 book contest. Find her on Twitter @MegNev.

Categories
2020 Poetry

Dorothy Chan

TRIPLE SONNET AND THREE CHEERS OF WHITE RUSSIANS

The couple at the bar wants to adopt me, even though I’m twenty-four, and I’ve just
ordered a White Russian, and my date’s
waiting for me with his pitcher of beer,
and what was I thinking, ordering a drink
with cream in it, but at least it’s not milk,
when the wife asks me to recite a poem—
“Just a line,” she says. “I want to hear
your voice more,” as she calls her husband
to come over, and I forget about my date,
wondering if these people are looking to make
their celebrity fantasy come true, quenching
their desires for an Asian baby, only I’m not
a baby anymore, despite what some men

try to call me, and I can’t be a baby, because
I behave myself way too much, and I wonder if
the three of us are actually starring in a play
of three acts: in Act I, my character meets them
at a bar, and the wife character says she wants
to adopt me, but the audience knows, and I know
what this woman and her husband really want
isn’t an adoption, but a three-way encounter, and
hello, that’s the beauty of theater: the truth always
comes out. And question: is it considered Oedipal
or Elektra if you bang someone who is playing
your parent? I’m asking for a friend, really, since
I can’t say I’d do it, because I’m not anyone’s
fetish, and look, I get it. I hate clothes, and I might

as well be wearing a bib with my crop top and
mini skirt, and I love the video of the drag queen
getting a bib in the mail, saying she’ll bedazzle it,
rhinestoning it all over, and that would solve
at least two of my problems, and I’m drinking
a cocktail with cream in it, but at least it’s not
milk, sitting atop a pool table, spreading my legs
just a little, but not too much, reminding me of
time the Russian architect offered to buy me bulk
candy if I watched a German film with him, and
no boy, no, don’t you dare try to buy me, and deep
down, I’m really such a good girl, and in this three-
act play, I end up leaving the couple at the bar, alone
with their fantasies, return to my date—chug his beer.


TRIPLE SONNET FOR CHARGING ADMISSION

Rita says I need to charge admission,
because my dress keeps riding up during
a performance, and that’s what I call art.
That’s what I call power. That’s what I call
walking into the room in the nude, and Alexa,
play something that takes me to the pink section
of the nail salon, also known as Yena’s favorites,
also known as the pink pussy section—orgasm
on the cheeks in the greatest shade of all time,
and thanks to you and you, and of course, you,
and aren’t fingers the most delicate feature on
a woman, other than the collar bone, and I love it
when celebutantes are asked what their favorite
body part is, and they all point to their collar bone,

like it’s some kind of hot girl secret code,
and brush on some highlighter there, ladies.
I love nuance, like a whiff of coconut milk cream,
also known as not giving it all away. But baby,
if you want to give it all away, I won’t blame you.
I won’t blame you if you want to march into the room,
skirt riding up, feeding ice cream to an audience
member, and save a little for me, why don’t you.
And I love nuance, or how in Art History 200,
we’re taught to study the way artists painted
the hands of their muses, or in the words
of a boyband, Do you want to hold her hand?
Does she come alive out of the canvas?

And I think of Raphael’s La Fornarina:

Margherita Luti holding up that gossamer fabric
over her breasts, and oh, that smirk, and oh,
that look into the camera. My heart pounds
for her, and I think wow, she really knew what
was going on, didn’t she, Raphael’s name on fabric
over her arm, and I heard he was the dreamiest
Renaissance man, marking his paintings with
one look into the audience, because in the words
of today, having a camera around makes life
just a little more worth living, which is a wise
saying by a wise woman. And Rita says I need
to charge admission, because my dress
keeps riding up during a reading, and all
I have to say is buy a ticket. Baby, I own it. I own you.


TRIPLE SONNET FOR LOSING MY VIRGINITY AGAIN

I dream of losing my virginity again
in Singapore when I’m in a deep sleep
on a queen bed with fluffed pillows
and white sheets—Good night, Dorothy.
And sometimes in life, I feel like a virgin,
because my ears aren’t pierced, no tattoos—
aren’t I such a nice girl for you to take home
to Mommy? Let me bake cookies for her,
messing up in pigtails and a frilly apron
in the kitchen, while the intercom yells,
Baking is a science, or some other gibberish
I don’t care for—I’m such a nice, wholesome
girl licking the batter, and cookie dough’s
the best topping for brownies and ice cream,

and I flash you on the countertop, a pink thong
exposing my butt cheeks, straight out of your
pornographic memory, straight out of a home
video—press play, lick my cake, press play,
lick my cake—go ahead and lick whipped cream
off my nipples, off my chest, and I dream
of losing my virginity again in deep sleep
in Singapore, but now I’m transported to
an office, sitting on an office chair, answering
office emails, and an office man opens the door,
and he’s got the same face as a man I knew
from college. I get up, stroke his hair, tell him
to sit down, and I want him to enter me, oh
so badly, and he enters me right then and there

on the office chair, my pink panties tossed
aside, and I moan in pain, I moan in pleasure,
but isn’t that so cliché, reading like romance
novels, or remember in the early 2000s
modeling competitions when girls faced off
with looks serving Harlequin covers—look,
she’s a milkmaid and he’s a farmhand. Look,
she’s a poor girl and he’s from the upper crust,
and back in the office, I moan more, then wake
in Singapore on a white bed with fluffed pillows,
and I feel pain. I feel like I’m bleeding, only
there’s no blood. I think about my double loss
of stupidity and how no pain will ever top
the pain I feel right now as I’m awakened again.


Dorothy Chan is the author of Chinese Girl Strikes Back (Spork Press, forthcoming), Revenge of the Asian Woman (Diode Editions, 2019), Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018), and the chapbook Chinatown Sonnets (New Delta Review, 2017). She was a 2020 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry for Revenge of the Asian Woman, a 2019 recipient of the Philip Freund Prize in Creative Writing from Cornell University, and a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship. Her work has appeared in POETRYThe American Poetry ReviewAcademy of American Poets, and elsewhere. Chan is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Poetry Editor of Hobart.