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Kristin Chang


In Chinese      hunger

is just a sound        饿饿饿

In Chinese      hunger

contains I               我我我

When my family eats fish

we take turns tonguing      

the eye           adjusts

to our mouths’ dark



When our ancestors lived in water

they fished the sky      entrailing

rain             I dive

toward the wreck of our old


                      find only weapons:

swords shivered in salt   a dagger white

as daylight            unlidding

our eyes       A white girl asks me

if it’s true we worship our dead


     I say is it true

you let anyone kill

in your name         What is the name

for outlasting mouths

that miscarry you    nation to nation

for centuries            men untrained their eyes

from the dark          Night a name

for the failure of sight        the absence of white

is memory                   a room that looks


different at every time of day

      When darkness walks deeper

into my bedroom        I touch

where you touched me     shy

of the wound                    a mouth

A hole so perfect it must be man

made        I won’t pretend to like

what’s holied of me:              god

-grazing teeth      thigh width sea fattening


the fish         When the bride comes,

we all feast   We feed her a fistful

of salt            & our mouths come

            loose in sympathy

We kill the chickens

      & feed them

to the pigs            We kill the pigs

      & feed them

to our husbands   We solve hunger


by burying our bridal beds

    snacking on streetlight

    eating our phone cords

When my mother rings     I let

the machine pick her up

by the throat       & shred

her voice away                Last year

I promised not to say anything

I couldn’t translate

into my mother’s


silence       I promise not to be touched

unless bruised          left some color

to unbecome     some ache to take home

& wife        Instead, I call my mother every day

from bed     beside a woman


I mistake stillness for

a fire on the other end






Kristin Chang lives in NY. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, The Adroit Journal, The Margins, Frontier Poetry, and elsewhere. She is located at and on Twitter @KXinming. Her debut chapbook Past Lives, Future Bodies is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in fall 2018.

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