poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Jennifer Chang received a BA from the University of Chicago in 1998, an MFA from the University of Virginia in 2002, and a PhD in English from the University of Virginia in 2017. She is the author of Some Say the Lark (Alice James Books, 2017) and The History of Anonymity (University of Georgia Press, 2008). She currently serves as an assistant professor at George Washington University and lives in Washington, D.C.

Dorothy Wordsworth

The daffodils can go fuck themselves.
I’m tired of their crowds, yellow rantings
about the spastic sun that shines and shines
and shines. How are they any different

from me?  I, too, have a big messy head
on a fragile stalk.  I spin with the wind.
I flower and don’t apologize. There’s nothing
funny about good weather. Oh, spring again,

the critics nod. They know the old joy,
that wakeful quotidian, the dark plot
of future growing things, each one
labeled Narcissus nobilis or Jennifer Chang.

If I died falling from a helicopter, then
this would be an important poem. Then
the ex-boyfriends would swim to shore
declaiming their knowledge of my bulbous

youth. O, Flower, one said, why aren’t you
meat? But I won’t be another bashful shank.
The tulips have their nervous joie-de-vivre,
the lilacs their taunt. Fractious petals, stop

interrupting me with your boring beauty.
All the boys are in the field gnawing raw
bones of ambition and calling it ardor. Who
the hell are they? This is a poem about war.

Copyright © 2012 by Jennifer Chang. Previously published in The Nation and Best American Poetry. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database

Copyright © 2012 by Jennifer Chang. Previously published in The Nation and Best American Poetry. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database

Jennifer Chang

Jennifer Chang

Jennifer Chang is the author of Some Say the Lark (Alice James Books, 2017). She lives in Washington, D.C.

by this poet

poem
I cross the street
and my skin falls off. Who walks
to an abandoned lake? Who
abandons lakes? I ask questions
to evade personal statements. When you are
skinless, you cannot bear to be
more vulnerable. With skin, I
would say I am in love with
Love as in that old-time song
crooners like to croon. With skin
poem
Dark matter, are you 
sparkless 

for lack of knowing
better? The room 

you've spun is distant
and indivisible—

a flickering lapsarian,
you satisfy no mute

progress but 
collapse, spiral, winded

by unwinding. Dear 
enigma kid, dear psychic

soft spot, I write you
from under eight spastic 

lights, each
poem

She’s in the desert
releasing the ashes of her father,
the ashes of her child,
or the ashes of the world. She is not

what she observes. The rare spinystar.
It does not belong to her. Bright needle threading
a cloud through the sky. There’s sun enough,
there’s afterlife. Her own