Victoria Chang
Barbie Chang

Barbie Chang parks next to the

            soroptomist park


to part her heart a hippopotamus

            of a heart a famous hurt


fame will learn her if she lets it the

            women at school will


school her if she lets them they write

            letters to only each other


why bother to say hello how she fell

            so hard in love with


the women at school but she is

            allergic to them achoo


if they are the choo choo train she

            is the track necessary but


unnoticed like the seventh tract

            home on an attractive


street a streak of light missed in the

            sky what if Barbie


Chang Skyped everyone only to

            discover she is the


only one on the earth left the last

            leaf on the last tree there


are hints of fingerprints on the window

            but no more fingers just


women who once lingered with

            only each other


The doctor says hospice as if

            she is a hostess and


wants Barbie Chang to try the

            crawfish there are


no longer many crawl spaces left

            for Barbie Chang’s


mother who no longer can take

            her own showers she


once was shy around Barbie Chang

            but now her lungs


hurt burnt crust lost in their hardness

            Barbie Chang always


thought her mother was heartless

            not lungless but now


she knows the lungs were wrong

            little rungs pair of


eyes that don’t get along and

            their endless scarring


into honeycombs there’s nothing

            scarier than something


that won’t stop fooling you

            that it’s beautiful




Scarring of the heart always wins

            when we cry our hearts


always whine stupid heart and its

            weak alert system overly


impatient sense of self narcissist

            stubborn in its endless


beating in need of assisted living

            supposed to be


the center of everything the center

            of attention but


not even centered Barbie Chang

            has no intention of


letting the heart win because it’s the

            lungs that need her


help her mother’s lungs sound like

            Velcro they crackle like


its New Year’s Eve this year Barbie

            Chang has bleached


clean the past but no matter how many

            times she cuts and pastes


a new childhood over her old one

            the neighborhood still


hates her hair color she hates her own

            hair color that has a metal


odor in the sun that shows all her grays

            that aren’t that many


there’s medicine for everything now but

            the owl still hunts at night


her mother is not alright and the owl

            is always right in the


middle of her flight she rests on her

            head when someone


else is sick it’s as if there are always

            noises in the empty attic


and Barbie Chang is always frantic hates

            the status quo wants


something to happen cannot lie she

            needs someone to die




Barbie Chang shakes the hand of

            another Smith a former


beauty queen who still wins friends

            at the local school sets


the rules for who is cool and who

            is not the one and


only Smith is taken aback that a

            Chang would be so


strange and arrange her own

            handshake without


being asked first Smith and Chang

            both gave birth but


the Smith would never again say

            hello to a Chang even


one named Barbie unless she was

            the one performing her


surgery no matter how likely the

            Barbie was to change


her time zones instantly clone herself

            to find a new home she


didn’t yet know that suburban

            homes were filled with


people who wanted to be alone

            to dial certain phones



The truth is some days Barbie Chang

            wants to hang up her


Asian boots and root for the Circle

            she wakes up not proud


to be what she is in a sea of water

            who gets to decide


which section of water eats the ship

            its always the white


water that devours there are towers of

            people working in


America in America the towers extend

            to Costa Rica and back


Barbie Chang can’t figure out how to

            open the door of the


tower someone keeps lowering her

            down to the roof she


doesn’t want to appear rude so she

            stays on the roof of


Paul Muldoon’s building she wonders

            if she is standing on Paul


Muldoon’s head how she wishes to be

            doomed like Paul


Muldoon to win the Guggenheim like

            Paul Muldoon to write


rejection letters sending them out the

            New Yorker windows in


winter the letters take the snow down

            like elevators 



Found In Volume 45, No. 04
Read Issue
  • victoriachang
Victoria Chang
About the Author

Victoria Chang’s third book of poems, The Boss, was published by McSweeney’s in 2013 as part of the McSweeney’s Poetry Series and won a PEN Center Literary Award and a California Book Award. Her second book, Salvinia Molesta, was published by the University of Georgia Press as part of the VQR Poetry Series in 2008. Her first book, Circle, won the Crab Orchard Review Open Competition Award and was published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2005.