Berfrois

Two Poems by Dorothy Chan

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Because You Fall Too Fast Too Hard

Why don’t we split the steak for two
medium rare and the $21 Caesar salad,
is what I always want to say on dates,
because I always come hungry, but
scratch that, I don’t share food with men
I’ve just met, and boy, you’re the most
adorable thing here, but I’m thinking about
how Marlene Dietrich once said that her
favorite food was champagne and hot dogs,
and throw in some cheddar mac and cheese
and you’re golden, and I could really bite
down on a wiener just about now, extra
relish, yellow mustard, dreaming about
the ways you’ll kiss me later, our tongues
touching, me licking your lips in a total
Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman move,
and what you’ve got going on is attractive-
successful people infatuation, like if I was
on the McDonald’s menu, I’d be a McLovin’
with double the cheese and fries, and oh
yeah, I’m extra campy, the one non-kids
menu item that comes with the Hello Kitty
toy, and did you know that in the early days
of the millennium, couples in Hong Kong
would go on dates at McDonald’s, like
it’s the hippest thing ever, and I remember
adding chili sauce to my fries and licking
that soft serve of green apple and vanilla
in Singapore, and yes, yes all of the above
is delicious, like sharing this bottle of bourbon
with you, and I’m the type of woman
who knocks over the banana stand
at the grocery store, the smell of whiskey
on my lips, and don’t you just love the rise
and the fall of our mouths meeting, the tingle
you can’t resist, but I don’t want to fall in
love that easily, and I hate it when men fall in
love with me too easily, and let’s just enjoy
the loss of control now, the tingle of bourbon,
the kiss me harder moans, the oh really, boy,
kiss me harder, kiss me under the covers.

 

Recipe for Kings, Emperors, Princesses, and Show Dogs

My lover licks icing off my fingers,
and I tell him that I’m not a princess—
I am king, wearing my pink kimono,
red slip, hair down, after showing him
a picture of my show dog puppy champion,
and he asks me, in bed, “How did two
princesses live in the same house?”
And I correct him, because of course,

I’m not a princess. I am king, or emperor
of this hotel, or maybe even Empress Wu
of your dreams, baby, and your Yellow Fever
is rising now, isn’t it, as you get another
erection between the sheets, and I’ll feed you
more icing, shove that whole doughnut
in your face, and I think about appetites,
the way lovers share food and straws,

and I read somewhere that eventually all
the germs become one, but what if you’re
not together long enough, because have you
ever heard of the term powerful woman,
like Hollywood’s obsession with Cleopatra,
also known as the most glamorous woman
in the fictional history of the world, Elizabeth
Taylor lighting up the screen with Caesar,

then bankrupting 20th Century Fox, but that’s
all in a day’s work, and I am king, not a
princess, remembering my sixth grade history
project on Empress Wu, and if Hollywood
had Cleopatra, then Hong Kong had Empress Wu,
played by the one and only Li Li-hua, that ruler
of appetites, killing her man, taking over, her heart
and stomach of a king, bringing boytoys left

 

and right into the bedroom, and eat
that meat up, my woman king,
eat that meat up, and here’s a recipe
for you to suck on: marinade some beef

in oil and soy sauce and sugar and salt.
Take two or three fresh tomatoes,
and add in oil and water. Cook
for 10-15 minutes and boil down,

add in ketchup, always the secret
ingredient. Mix cornstarch with water,
then add in some more soy sauce,
and voilà beef in tomato sauce.

 

And I present to you: this recipe of tomatoes
and beef fit for an emperor, a woman of many
appetites, and I’m not a princess—I am king
of this bedroom, and no, I don’t believe
in the Confucian saying that a woman’s
rule is unnatural, because everything could use
a woman’s touch—and feed me that doughnut
right there, the pink one with all the sprinkles.

 


About the Author:

Dorothy Chan is the author of Revenge of the Asian Woman (Diode Editions, March 2019), Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018), and the chapbook Chinatown Sonnets (New Delta Review, 2017). She was a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, a 2019 recipient of the Philip Freund Prize in Creative Writing from Cornell University, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The American Poetry ReviewAcademy of American PoetsThe Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. Chan is the Poetry Editor of Hobart, and starting in Fall 2019, she will be an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Visit her website at dorothypoetry.com

Cover image screenshot of Batman Returns, Warner Bros., 1992.