Chia-Lun Chang

I have much to express about my accent, mostly frustration. This poem focuses on giving readings in public. I always drink a cup of wine before reading, so I can forget that there are certain words I’ll never be able to pronounce correctly. I have also been thinking about the Rohingya people in Burma who have fled by boat and been stranded at sea. I sometimes feel I’ve become one of them, who stared at me through the pictures in the news.

chialun chang (1)



The accent is floating above the reading

please bear with me

I’m sorry that you’re sitting here
forced to be surrounded by my voice

‘I don’t see her lips moving correctly.
What’s the r sound? The sound is annoying.’

but I am standing here and have annoyed you,
dragged you, punished you

I’m sorry

I was once your parent
who suffered escaping to the wonderland disorder

once your uncle-in-law
who died alone in a opened closet 

once your pet
who whined in a cryptic space

twice your wallpaper
that peeled away through silent,

early morning. Your mailbox has received
thousands of correctly spelled and typed news from the world

sometimes I was your blackboard
where a teeth straightening system grew  

once I was you
who sucked your mom’s nipples

I’m sorry— I’m becoming a dishwasher right away

if one day you remember
please receive my poems

my tongue mixed too many oceans  
maybe it will drown next time

my tonsils swallowed a bag of stones
on the muddy path   

my throat has not applied for a passport
it is too thick to pass through your ears  


Chia-Lun Chang was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. She is a poet, playwright, visual artist and an events coordinator at Belladonna* Collaborative. Her recent work has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail and Bone Bouquet. A recipient of two teaching fellowships, she has taught Chinese in Vietnam and Mississippi, and is a recipient of a 2015 Immigrant Artist Mentoring fellowship from NYFA. She lives in New York.

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