Back to Issue Thirty-Four



Runner-Up for the 2020 Adroit Prize for Poetry
Selected by Jericho Brown


All our wounds rhyme with ‘tea’
in Cantonese: cha

as in a coffee stain on my mother’s
rented wedding dress;

as in my fingernail
stranded inside the palm of a boy

I bit my tongue watching
as he took his shirt off by the pool.

If I followed him in, I am sure
the water would curdle

this pig’s blood,
lick my bra into brine.

The pool, a vein of night
and expired ginseng,

our skin jaundiced by baking
in Taiwan’s hot mouth.

A dream where I love him
without holding his hand

in church. Without him
hand-feeding me, bird feeder’s lips

parted for God. I wish I could tell
each wound apart by the prophecies

of flesh scabbing over like Dim Sum
tea leaves. Cha, in disgust.

This, the past tense of cha,
what’s gone bad:

When my tongue virgined its way
out into a yellow fever

dream, hooked my hunger
in the boy’s eye and gave it

a twist. Who knew he’d look
more fish, paler in the flood

lights. A dead fish Jesus gutted
for the kicks.

If I love him, name me Judas.
If he thrifts flies to offer

as Gospel good news,
presents for the preacher,

I’d birth a new arch-angel
with his ghost, harvested

from half-prayers.

A knife’s intuition tells how
to make surgical incisions in the Bible

look like blobs of cha, oily
noodles, milk, honey, Kowloon soy.

A map gasping a trail to him, home,
the cross I cut out.


Stephanie Chang is a rising freshman at University College London and originally from Vancouver, Canada. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Kenyon Review, Penn Review, Hobart, and Diode Poetry Journal. She has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Poetry Society of the UK, Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize, and Anthony Quinn Foundation. Her chapbook, NIGHT MARKET IN TECHNICOLOR, is forthcoming from Ghost City Press. Stephanie reads for Muzzle Magazine and interns at Sine Theta Magazine.

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