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About this poet

Frances Chung was born and raised in Chinatown, New York. She received her undergraduate degree in mathematics from Smith College and taught math in New York City public schools. Chung published her poetry in numerous anthologies and journals and was awarded fellowships from the New York Times Company Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts. She died in 1990 at the age of forty, leaving behind two manuscripts that were posthumously compiled and published as Crazy Melon and Chinese Apple: The Poems of Frances Chung (Wesleyan University Press, 2000).

the great american yellow poem

she heard tales about saving grapefruit skins for cooking
she grew bright under the neon dragon of Chinatown
she made saffron curry rice for friends
she attended a barbecue in Amarillo, Texas
she stepped around yellow piss in snow
she cut herself on a Hawaiian pineapple
she learned to name forsythia where it grew
visions of ochre and citronella eluded her

From Crazy Melon and Chinese Apple by Frances Chung, published by Wesleyan University Press. Copyright © 2000 by the estate of Frances Chung. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.

From Crazy Melon and Chinese Apple by Frances Chung, published by Wesleyan University Press. Copyright © 2000 by the estate of Frances Chung. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.

Frances Chung

Frances Chung was born and raised in Chinatown, New York. Her manuscripts were posthumously compiled and published as Crazy Melon and Chinese Apple: The Poems of Frances Chung (Wesleyan University Press, 2000).

by this poet

poem
Sitting across from me on the bus a Chinese
couple and their young son. The wife is not
accustomed to riding in automobiles so she
feels nauseous and uncomfortable. She cups
her hand over her mouth as if to vomit.
Finally, she opens her pocketbook to fish
out pieces of coconut candy, offering one to 
her husband
poem
Riding the subway is an adventure
especially if you cannot read the signs.
One gets lost. One becomes anxious and
does not know whether to get off when
the other Chinese person in your car
does. (Your crazy logic tells you that
the both of you must be headed for the
same stop.) One woman has discovered the
poem
oh lucky me
I am of some use
I am of some inspiration
to the two men 
across the lunchcounter
I remind them of the
last Chinese restaurant
they took their family to
did you know that
Chinese food was delicious?