Kristin Chang


At customs, I declare myself
!100! dead. The agents coffin me
!50! immediately, don’t want a detectable
odor. Metal detectors
!100! were invented in the 19th century
by a white doctor who wanted
!50! to locate bullets in other people’s bodies. The irony being
his people put them there
!100! in the first place, I was born in a white
room. Bright colors are believed
!100! !50! to ruin a newborn’s eyes
& red is the first way we mistake
!50! a mother for her wound. I read about a Chinese woman
!100! !50! who tossed coins into a plane engine
for good luck, delaying it
!50! for hours. How else to say faith
finances all my failures? I only know flight as the noun
!50! form of flee. What good is a god
!100! without creations. In this country, I contribute nothing
but a history
!50! of bad breath & heart disease. My parents keep an entire closet
!100! !50! of complimentary amenities: mini shampoo, mints,
!50! razors. We portion our hunger, mortgage
our mouths. My mother minces all meats, says
!100! !50! the smaller you chop it, the more you have.
!50! My mother is confused by the term
travel-sized, says everything is travel-sized
!100! if it has traveled. For instance, she kidnapped
the sea by slinging it
!50! over her shoulder, ransoming its salt
!100! !50! for rent money. All bodies are things
!50! used to carry other things. For instance, trees carry
water, which carried my father. My father, not knowing
!100! !50! the English word for fruit, says tree
!50! boobs. He trafficked starfruit
in his pants, watered them with the same hands
!50! he beat us with. Blood, too, smuggles
!100! air through the body. In Chinese
the word for sadness is two words: nan guo, meaning impossible
!50! to cross. When the sun migrates
!100! !50! from east to west, which sky
!50! best criminalizes light? When a man
is your father & the fist
!50! punctuating your face, do you
!100! leave the country
!100! or forgive it for making him this way?
!50! The first time my mother saw
an american toilet, she thought it was a wishing
!50! fountain. She said how much do white people shit
at a time? So many pipelines
!100! smuggling her shit to the sea, so much water
on the side she’ll never see. She threw a fistful
!50! of coins into the bowl & held down the lever. Instead
!100! !50! !5! of flushing, they sank
!200! !100! !10! saddled by rust. They stained
!200! !100! !50! !25! the water into blood, paid
!200! !50! !10! this price of staying.

Kristin Chang's poetry has been anthologized in Best New Poets 2018, the 2019 Pushcart Prize Anthology, Bettering American Poetry Vol. 3, and Ink Knows No Borders.  She is located at and on Twitter @KXinming. Her debut chapbook “Past Lives, Future Bodies” is out on Oct. 31 from Black Lawrence Press.