Back to Issue Twenty-Four.

how i was fathered



How gently he injured
the earth, gardened us

from blood-soft
loam, taught us tender

meant teeth-ready.  Taught us
to hunt birds, break necks

like bread.  Taught us winged
meant wounded & bled

meant quiet
hands holding

your body open. 
We bled four times a year

when he came home
& brought gifts

from Taiwan: glazed dates,

cakes.  He’d watch us
eat, our crumb

-coated lips & sugar
-sanded tongues.

Good eat? he’d ask,
& when we said yes

he’d ask did you earn it?
& then we hid

our sticky hands
in shame.

Later, blood puddled
our palms & we were careful

not to drip
a path back to our bodies.

who earned it?  My father comes
from a butcher family, eats only

what he can kill.
who earned it?

You did. You did. You did.
At night, I dream

of god hanging up
the constellations

on meathooks, of death
in some natural

disaster, our house
flooding, my brother & I

floating to the ceiling.  But
there is no disaster

more natural than a man-made one.
We fatten for his fist, eat cake

after cake, the sweet
slurring our faces.

With full mouths, we beg
for more, we take & he gives

it to us good.  He feeds
& we grow

into the slaughter
we were born for.




Kristin Chang lives in New York. Her work has been published in or is forthcoming from the Rumpus, the Margins (Asian American Writers Workshop), Frontier Poetry, Nat.Brut, and elsewhere. She is located online at and on Twitter @KXinming. Her debut chapbook Past Lives, Future Bodies is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press this fall.