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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.

On Emotion

It was inside, gathering heat in her blood, slowly killing her.
 
No one said a word.
 
And this grew her fury further, grieved her immeasurably.
 
What did it look like.
 
A knot, or a slag of granite.
 
I imagined another brother, unborn for he was only a knot.
 
How my granite brother would never leave her.
 
I grew up in her abject sadness, which soon became our speaking.
 
And then I left.
 
Smaller, smaller, he was her favorite.
 
Jays nag the first light.
 
And now I am awake before dawn hoping today is a day when I won’t have to say anything.
 
And then I.
 
To me, it was unintelligible.
 
I could see through her skin, see my brother not growing inside her.
 
Would he ever come outside.
 
The raging jays, the squawking catastrophe.
 
I wanted to know.
 
What is the difference between a son and a daughter,  I wanted to know.
 
That is private.
 
That was her answer.
 

From Some Say the Lark (Alice James Books, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Chang. Used with permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Alice James Books, www.alicejamesbooks.org.

From Some Say the Lark (Alice James Books, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Chang. Used with permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Alice James Books, www.alicejamesbooks.org.

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
One winter I lived north, alone
and effortless, dreaming myself
into the past. Perhaps, I thought,
words could replenish privacy.
Outside, a red bicycle froze
into form, made the world falser
in its white austerity. So much
happens after
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