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Tina Chang
Tina Chang
Born in 1969, Tina Chang was a finalist for an Asian American Literary Award from the Asian American Writers Workshop for her debut collection Half-Lit Houses...
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Poems About Birthdays
A Birthday
by Christina Rossetti
A Happy Birthday
by Ted Kooser
A Newborn Girl at Passover
by Nan Cohen
by Joyce Sutphen
by Eileen Myles
Infant Joy
by William Blake
Morning Song
by Sylvia Plath
On His Seventy-fifth Birthday
by Walter Savage Landor
Poem at Thirty
by Michael Ryan
Prayer for a Birthday
by Mark Wunderlich
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by Tina Chang


I was locked into a single seed, my future fathoming. 
I was matter underwater and a sheer hoping, 
when I latched to earth, a first withered bloom. 
A sonic wonder, I sang about the future.
I was master of the oxen pulling me toward dawn, 
an existence first in death, a state of stillness 
before beginning, a middle earth of rain. 
I wore many masks until the right one fit.
Then the storm passed and I was wakened by water. 


I had stolen through the back door, eyed 
two loaves of bread. In the life before this one, 
I had seen the window, a greater reflection, 
yeast in the tin rising fast. My wanting grew. 
How does desire trump that? Perhaps desire 
is what we know best when the heart 
is listless but listening. I memorized my history 
which was nothing short of gleaming disasters 
repeated, just for me. 


I fell into a patch of green which was earth's matter
and fell some more. I am a boy and found myself
between war and my own luck, startled myself
in goodness and in haste, made a fire and got to cooking. 
Man: the most tender and incessant beast. 
A flawed danger but no less beautiful. A prairie 
where I walk for the first time, where I am the theory 
of origin: my brain barks in the heat, my legs buckle 
in the initial step, then a slow certainty, an engine 
of progress. My ankles turn clockwise in the soil, 
loosening root and worm, shaking free 
from the tangle and what held me there. 

Mambo Sun

I was never burned by anything that could touch me 
and I sat in the imagined throne with spoonsful of red sugar 
tasting the years ahead of me, wondering of the origin
of my mother. I think she is flame and quick step, glee 
and ignition. I saw her hands once in a flash flood 
pulling me awake, several claps and then I came alive
rising through the underbrush and cadence rumble,
then I breathed and found god's bone, cracked in pieces
in my throat and my own voice fused to answer back.

Copyright 2012 by Tina Chang. Used with permission of the author.
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