Kristin Chang was born in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has been published
or is forthcoming in Powder Keg Magazine, BOAAT Journal, Word Riot, Winter
Tangerine Review, and the HIV Here & Now Project. She has been nominated for two
2015 Best of the Net awards.
In this city / we grow accustomed to thirst. The sidewalk / skinned like a mouth & tender & / the bones adjusting in every child / silently / they lick their fingers / as if wiping / clean a blade. / My mother says / all gods are more water / than seed, she says / all gods repeat like breaths / she knows there are many ways / to be a body / to worship. When she kneels / she is soil / and smoke / creation / and destruction / This is the kind of worship / that looks like war / how the bullets / recall / our bellies / how we drag our bodies / into stiffening light & skyward / watch the ghosts that slip / from our mouths / like breaths / like pearls. / Everything alive / red & holy / on our tongues. / We / were once alive / Now / we rouse in the night / like blood. / Watch / as four girls take turns / massaging your feet / solving your blood in their mouths. / Four girls fall asleep under / the crucifix / on your balcony / wake up when the birds swoon / over our bodies / that is how we know / it is worship. / This is how / we learn to be clean: forgetting / our hands in this water / our children in this sea / their bodies teething the tide.
a study in extinction
I am full of tongues / and floor lamps / I built a house of myself / watch me flicker my molars / like lightswitches / upholster the interior / in soft grass / I want to roll around in that grass / I want to wear the land / like a face / I want to eat raw fish off / Chinese advertisements / for skin bleach / the women / looking like wounds / like pearled rows of teeth / every time / I drive / my mother calls me / to remind me / that the ocean exists / my skin hews / a path to the water / my skin hues like water / I want to look like the ocean / to point at where my body shorelines / and say this is what / will survive us / every time a boat lands / the world ends / my parents came on a boat / they saw their faces in the water / a glimmer like a tooth / in a toilet / my mother says / history is an unplugged phone / she reads articles about / traffic and drowning / when I drive she complains / about the windsplatter / the bloodpatter / when I hit / something small and alive / I say itís collateral damage / I say itís history / planting my ghosts across the pavement /
Iím trying to explain / why this body / belongs to me / but Iím sick / of doing it / with my mouth under my hands. / I am good at locating myself on Google Maps / the way I am good at leashing / myself to my skin at night. / Itís all a matter of translation / swallowing the innards of a ghost / and rearranging / your own / to make room. / I used to dream about selling crowns studded with eyes / I would sell them to you / then kiss the nearest door. / When you wore my crown you said / you felt too close to the ground / so I said / it was natural. / It is natural to hear voices / in your teeth / to change yourself like a channel / by removing something small, like a hair or a mole / to adjust the little things first, like posture / your bones are unnecessary / they donít like to be touched. / They quit. / Now your body / always seems / to be instructed to collapse. / Donít worry, I am racing / your ruin. Please donít be upset. / When the aliens arrive / at this stage of life / they will not be here / to destroy you. They will snip out our eyes / for bigger crowns and say / Please donít be upset / all Iíve done is rearrange you.
i was born under a pink moon
: and spat out by a fish : sometimes fish circle me like arms and i nibble them : this is gratitude : all my sistersí mouths swinging on hooks : not touching : i am so tired of decorative windows : circular mirrors : they remind me of a boy : hugged in a jar : a white hotel room : my hands disrobing into salt : meat only knows one version of itself : i am skinfree, feathered : most days : disguised as a cloud : when it rains my face : echoes : versions of itself : clasped to the air : like spit : like so many versions of the same movie : where all the actors have been dead : for years now : one actor says : disappearance is suggestion : he wears : the sky a red skirt : he eats : the sky rare and bloody : as a steak : no flesh can be taught consolation : i wrestle off my face : it is spring : but i abandoned my body : back in winter : snow becoming snow : legs becoming a riverbend :
shrieks wing off the banks : clocks breathe into my mouth : gleams of something : a bellyache or bottlecap : letís beg to be born again : letís see how much : the body means : how little : i fold into a softer self : a bedding of sunlight : a bedded slaughter : i press my face to the mirror : til it blisters
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