area code 604 by MICHAEL CHANG

area code 604

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“I will comb it with my own claws,” said the dragon, “for I see that the child has hair the colour of gold, which is the only right colour for hair.”—Travel Light by Naomi Mitchison

Ed. Note #1: that dragon is racist as hell

Ed. Note #2: this poem could really be about anything you want

Ed. Note #3: how do you feel about a time-travelling consort finding love in a hopeless place

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A whiteboy asks me to interpret his dreams
Why do I dream about my teeth falling out
I say it means you want me very badly
Another whiteboy heartbreaker asks what I do
I tell him I invented whiskey sours
I’m a sommelier for root vegetables
I run a book club for fans of One Direction
The screenwriter William Goldman said about Hollywood: “Nobody knows nothing”

He meant that even after a hundred-plus years of filmmaking

No one actually knows how to make a successful movie

Sure-things bomb & longshots win big
When it comes to us // nobody knows nothing

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White people know all about the Stanford Prison Experiment

(Innocent) (An aberration) (For science)

But nothing about the Tuskegee Study

Or Wounded Knee

Or Chinese Exclusion

Or Japanese Internment

(Forget them) (They are yellow)

Karr was right to say: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

(The more things change, the more they stay the same)

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White people who say they are “comfortable” really mean that they are richer than God

I find in your cabinet of bizarre curios

a delicate vial of four green leaves

Luminous, scalding, teasing, sentient, temperamental
Your lips ring with strange rain
Your tastebuds dance as I put myself on your tongue
My synapses sing like a suspect facing 20-to-life
You make me crumble // with your devastating gaze
Your dominant assertiveness meets my gentle yielding

Our labor of love

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You make me giddy like I’m on horse tranquilizers

mess & quake // sting & salve

feeling my way through a dark theater

There is a house in Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka

designed by Tadao Ando

with no exterior windows

because the owner wanted to feel

“not in Japan”

to compensate for lost light

an interior courtyard was created

In Japan “free size” means one-size-fits-all

Do you like my navy dufflecoat

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Ecclesiastes said there’s nothing new under the sun

but there is always new joy to be felt // new delight to be found

though it’s hard to get excited about tomatoes

I memorized the riddles but not the answers // the tunes but not the words

You plant a flag // it’s one of passion, rigor, ambition, collisions, kinship

Today, Madame President, we’re all Adam and Eve and Steve

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Whiteboy daddy longlegs

turn your face toward me

The face that could take a thousand lives

& murder me a million times

Belt loosened

You’re immortal

You on top & me feeling weightless

Pimp my affections for

your flawed shine

your intelligent design

your pizza-burn sensitivity

your dirt road and no map

your conscious uncoupling

your fecund loins and imagination

your tongue darting around my danger zone

your practiced mouth intimacy
& your massive quiet glory

You watch me swallow, eyes wide open

With a serious expression, you say with absolute sincerity,

Uber but for trust exercises

MICHAEL CHANG (they/them) hopes to win the New Jersey Blueberry Princess pageant one day. Michael strongly suspects that they were born in the wrong decade. A recovering vegan, their favorite ice cream flavor was almost renamed due to scandal. 

Their writing has been published or is forthcoming in Q/A Poetry, Yes Poetry, Typo Mag, Wrath-Bearing Tree, Bending Genres, Heavy Feather Review, Cabildo Quarterly, Neon Garden, Yellow Medicine Review, The Conglomerate, Kissing Dynamite, Little Rose, Milk + Beans, and elsewhere.  They are the proud recipient of a Brooklyn Poets fellowship.