Victoria Chang

Barbie Chang Can’t Stop Watching

Barbie Chang can’t stop watching
          the Ellen Pao trial

while the rest of the world wonders
          about a plane crash in

the Alps helping Ellen Pao is not an
          option Barbie Chang

opted out but never really severed
          ties with the people in

the office she kept quiet because by
          speaking she would

become a victim something projected
          upon like the canvas

that paint is thrown on she quietly
          packed her bag and

pulled it through the narrow door some
          say what a whore Ellen

Pao was to fall in love with a man in the
          office doesn’t she know

that men like to take off their clothes
          extend their tongues

to see whose body it will run on some
          thought Ellen Pao was a

cyst in the office made lists in the office
          of all the wrong things

someone made a poll about her did she
          or didn’t she was she or

wasn’t she always the same binary argument
          racism or incompetence is

there a third possibility that when we
          have seen something so

many times we no longer recognize it
          as injustice our heads

are always only one foot away from
          the man’s head in

the other hotel room but we don’t notice
          because we can’t see him

around an empty office building dead
          birds lie in the grass

new ones each day hit the glass each
          face the same

expression forever frozen in its own
          form like a stamp

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Barbie Chang’s Mother Calls

Barbie Chang’s mother calls her to
          tell her about the

oxygen machine that outfoxes her
          father he can’t figure

out how to turn it on there’s a whole
          generation of people

who care about deer porn not form her
          dog only cares about the

deer horn she gave him yesterday Barbie
          Chang’s father who bothers

with everyone’s business doesn’t know
          what Bisquick is someone

wrote a book of poems about Kanye
          West there are still

old poets looking for the best new young
          poets who are all hornets

around the same old nest Barbie Chang
          knows she lives an

America that most people don’t care
          about on most days

she can’t distinguish between being a
          token and racism she

either feels like a token or is experiencing
          racism a token needs to be

acted upon by a subject but the same is
          true of racism does that

mean her whole life is an object as a
          shadow of someone

else on some days she has feeling in
          her lungs tries her

mother’s oxygen machine the O2 owes
          her nothing it goes

through her body breathing for a
          shadow is just a hobby

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Mr. Darcy Grabs

Mr. Darcy grabs Barbie Chang’s hand
          one that has a loop

and can be tugged like a leash she wishes
          his hand were a special

hand a hand she has been trying to
          touch for years but

his hand has no breadth or texture
          fingers too big to text

just a hand that only knows one
          woman’s upholstery

its fabric and stuffing if Barbie Chang
          unscrews his hand

and replaces it with an ugly man’s
          hand would she still

want to grab it her gasp comes out as
          an X-Ray of some other

woman some imposter some possible
          maybe her separation

from other women only makes her
          see her connection to

them maybe she desires Mr. Darcy
          because he has never

been captured on film because he
          has no footsteps

maybe he was right wing all along but
          if she knew that would

she give the ring back the phone rings
          every day with men

trying to sell her solar panels don’t
          they know not

everything that burns should be
          captured and sold

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Barbie Chang’s Daughter

Barbie Chang’s daughter befriends
          the new girl at school

but before they can form a bond the
          new girl’s mom tells

Barbie Chang that her own daughter
          should not tie herself

down and drown too fast and in one
          week the new girl walks

past Barbie Chang’s daughter no longer
          talks to her kind the mom

works hard to send cards to the Circle
          one by one she stars

their names because they are free to
          star names free to have

stars next to their names Barbie Chang
          no longer can play dead

because she remembers the moment
          she realized that lying

on the cement and looking at the sky
          while following a body in

and out of buildings was not ideal the
          moment she realized that

she is not what others see that she is
          not what others name her

would we name a deer something else
          if it could see the ocean

would the deer even name itself a deer
          Barbie Chang asks her

daughter why she no longer plays with
          the new girl she says

only in her mind Barbie Chang can’t
          help but mind

can’t help but dislike the Circle’s children
          with their Circle friends

how does she stop the end from
          beginning again

 


Victoria Chang’s fourth book of poems, Barbie Chang, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. Her prior book, The Boss (McSweeney’s Poetry Series, 2013), won the PEN Center USA Literary Award and a California Book Award. Other books are Salvinia Molesta and Circle. Chang lives in Southern California and teaches at Chapman University and Orange County School of the Arts. You can find her at www.victoriachangpoet.com