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
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  • 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.