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Dorothy Chan

Dorothy Chan is the author of Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, 2018). Chan is currently a PhD candidate in poetry at Florida State University and serves as the editor of The Southeast Review.

By This Poet

2

Triple Sonnet for my Aggressive Forehead

Dad thinks my forehead is too Godzilla, too Tarzan, too Wonder Woman,
tells me not to tie my hair back,
exposing it, like it’s the Frankenstein Monster
from beneath my childhood bed,
or the mollusk that challenged the world,
and Dad, I love you, but you should know
that I’m a nightmare as a woman
who can make the earth stand still,
calling all UFOs from planets beyond
to paint me on canvas just as I am:
a Chinese girl nicknamed Yellow Fever,
chowing down on all the pork buns
and chicken biscuits and shrimp bánh mì,
at the buffet, and of course, all the men

as I star in my own B-movie, give it an XXX,
every girl’s dream of playing opposite
King Kong, and you know I’m not some Fay Wray type
who screams at the sight of a hand,
and Dad, I think about all the ape toys
you bought me when I was a child,
because you never wanted me to be alone,
never wanted me to go a day without
laughing or plotting, and did I mention
that you were born on Halloween
which makes me half evil—I’m joking,
but Dad, you’ve got to let me keep my forehead,
despite your old school Chinese beliefs
of girls hiding their warrior brains,
and I know you’re just looking out for me,

but my forehead has its own life,
like an invisible screen—one-way glass
where the ad men are watching the women
try on lipstick, but in my forehead
it’s the other way around, because let’s let
the boys play, and the girls watch for once,
because every lip could use a bit more
rouge, purple, crimson, burnt orange, hot pink,
how at once, I want to dress up
as a flight attendant, an accountant,
someone at the front of the class holding a ruler
and yes, if I fill out a survey
from a sex magazine, I’m checking off
forehead as my favorite body part.

Triple Sonnet for My Father’s Pet Goose, Pigeon Wars, and Daddy Issues

Lovers in cartoons get into swan boats
before declaring their undying love,
but I’m terrified because have you seen
the wedding footage of the swan eating
the bride’s white dress, chasing her down the pond,
and we live in such a scary world
that the bird poems really aren’t helping,
because what good do they really do?
But what about my father growing up
in Macau, in Hong Kong, across too many
boarding schools in Asia to count,
one day going home to his mother,
a goose arrives at his bedroom window,
like a sign from a higher being.

And when I’m twenty-three, in Singapore,
I’m telling this story to a man
double my age—we’re greeted by pigeons—
and no, I don’t have daddy issues,
I’m just pouring my heart out
because that goose was my dad’s best friend,
because my grandma ended up
cooking that goose, because the man I’m dating
understands these old-school-Chinese-stiff-
upper-lip-we’re-poor-so-I’m-sorry-son
situations of survival,
because this same man wants me to write
about his father, but I don’t have time
to be someone else’s biographer

when I’m thinking of how my father
made sure we always had a family dog,
a Buzzie to keep us warm, take out
for Italian ice and custard trips,
how during the Pennsylvania winters,
my father would bring lost birds inside
the house and feed them milk to keep warm,
how growing up, we’d go to the park
every weekend to feed the ducks,
and back to Singapore, when I look down
at the pigeons interrupting my date,
starting a brawl over scone crumbs
in the middle of the coffee shop,
I can’t help but just look down, laugh at them.