Four Poems by Dorothy Chan

Sonnet XXV: Hong Kong Crabs Hold on for Dear Life

Hong Kong crabs are holding on for dear life
as Dad takes the tongs and I hold the bag.
We’re in the seafood department,
picking out tonight’s dinner, as the crabs
cling onto each other, trying not to get
captured—they’d rather stay in quarantine.
They’d rather sacrifice a claw than let go.

And as I hold the bag, Dad puts the crabs in,
I worry as they poke their claws through—
what if the bag bursts and they break free,
crabbing all over the market, pinching
crying babies and bums on benches—an outbreak
of crabs cherishing life, scuttling through
this airy ocean that is Hong Kong.


Jungle Love

Feel me up, you tiger.
You’re the kind of boy I’d make a sandwich for:
as long as you eat me up before eating.
And why don’t I play dress up for you—
I never got why men want sexy cowgirls
or schoolgirls or good girls
when they could have woman,
right in front of them in the raw,
in the bushes, against a tree—rub harder,
make believe we’re in a jungle,
now that you’ve got me on all fours,
pouncing around like you just found me
behind a rock on the island of untamed women.
I’m the wildest: spears ready,
breasts sticking out,
appeasing that great reptile that’s ready to attack
us, because baby, I’m hoping it’s you and me in the end.

Our eyes lock for the first moment,
I throw that spear—domesticate him, domesticate you.
I’ll bring that meat home. You can cook it,
or maybe you want to rescue me from lava,
play the hero as a swarm of killer hornets or killer gorillas
or killer 50-foot women come my way,
you hold me in your arms, fly away—
off into the sunset or into outer space
and I go all vampy Plan 9 on you,
until the director yells “Cut!”
We’re stuck in a compromising position because
that’s the beauty of it all.


Centerfold of the Month: Miss December

I ask the photographer what a butt lamp is,
and he tells me it’ll light up my crack,
let it glow there—ass facing the ceiling,
as I’m trying not to fall off the black satin sheets.
They’re recreating a lovemaking scene of the 1970s:
round bed fantasies of the mile-high club
in the private jet of the playboy,
when I feel an itch down there—
I was told by a girlfriend “no fur bikinis allowed.”
Editing has enough to airbrush.

It’s my first photo shoot—
“Yes, yes I’ve always wanted this,”
thinking back to when I was the little girl who made faces,
trying to look like a supermodel in the bathroom mirror,
then sneaking into my father’s den, looking at his Playboys.
The makeup artist covers the bags under my eyes.
I tell him how the shots just kept coming last night:
tequila after tequila after tequila,
and he tells me how the other girls
probably wanted to ruin my shoot.
So it’s time to get territorial in the next scene
when the photographer tells me to rest my butt
on the rounded bottom of the staircase,
body facing the camera,
and lift my leg “Can-can” style,
but looking at him,
then pretending the staircase is a man—
an ex-boyfriend that loved to see everything upfront—
in his face, so he could examine everything in the light,
I turn around, elongating my back, wrapping my legs
around its rails, slightly turning my face around,
giving a wink back at the photographer.


Midnight When Stripperella’s Due Back Home

Toy gun in hand, replaying the bang heard around the bedroom,
my nipples say hello, peep through the triangles
of my bikini. At home, at this shoot, I’m a Stripperella.
Take me home by midnight and I’ll harden
as my top comes off, leaving hot pink lipstick, plastic
heels, and hair that dazzles,
how it dazzles in its lion’s mane of blonde
against the green screen sunset of natural attraction.

Here comes the sun, and there goes your gun.

I love it when you harden, lick my belly button.
My open mouth says welcome—it’s you and me in this graphic
cell, the way we fit into a cramped space,
fit into each other. And the bottom comes off,
leaving only heels as I pose
kneeling, hand on knee, mouth giving that gun a blow.

Hand on knee, lips give that gun a good lick
making it the cover shot. I flip over, gun on
chest, legging the green screen sunset while my arms spread
out across sand.
We can fuck on this singed beach until midnight,
until midnight when Stripperella’s due back home,
makeup off

leaving a plastic heel behind.

About the author:

Dorothy Chan was a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship and a 2016 semi-finalist for The Word Works’ Washington Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Plume, The JournalSpillway, Little Patuxent Review, and The McNeese Review. Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart. She is the Assistant Editor of The Southeast Review.