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Dorothy Chan


Grandfather pays his respects with oranges:

if an orange once ruled the world,

oranges now rule the home shrine,

the stacking of fresh bought every week.


Honoring our ancestors with incense,

Grandfather takes out a golden snake sculpture

from his case of gold and glassware,

tells me it looks too scary, too fierce—

I stare, smell the incense across the room.


He has a Da Vinci The Last Supper

hidden away. He knows I love real art.

This isn’t Chinatown from the movies,

but this is beauty, the oranges all neat,

Florida’s Best sticker still stuck on them.




In the station of the bustling metro,

I’d tell you to buy a fresh mango cake,

the one where the slices are petals,

forming a mango flower atop cream,

but they’re probably already out.

But why not buy a Mont Blanc or a fruit tart

or a cake in the shape of a bunny instead?


Buy some magazines at the Circle K:

a tabloid, porno manga, Vogue Japan,

then throw in an English candy bar.


Try on polos at the Giordano shop,

grab a guava juice and red bean bun,

then use your remaining coins at the umbrella

vending machines. It’s already raining.





I never want to relive that Spring Break

when the bartender at the tiki bar

wanted to do bodyshots off me. Lifting me

in his tipsy state, he asked if I’d prefer

Pink Pussy or Purple Hooter or Kamikaze

or plain and simple tequila, lime in my mouth,

salt rim of my belly, but I remember getting off

the bar, pushing him away, then ordering

a Scorpion Bowl all for myself, because

leave a lady alone. What is with this fixation

of women on tables, like in Japanese fetish film

when businessmen eat sushi off Asian beauties

who are lying in the nude on the dining table,

leaves covering their breasts, nigiri on top of leaves.

CEO feeds one of the models an octopus,

thinking he’s doing her a favor

when she’s got a burger waiting for her in the fridge.

Or what about when women are lifted

on the tops of pianos, one leg in the air,

seducing the man who can no longer find Middle C,

play a little can-can, she’ll lift that leg higher,

seduce him, scare him    he’s frozen.

But girls girls girls can get on tables without a man,

bartop dancing in their hot pink terrycloth minis

in the early years of the millennium,

sipping on Vodka Sodas because no one has time

for extra calories, or the next act

of beautiful bartenders in their short shorts,

bringing out cold beers, squirting the hose

at customers who disgust them, men whose fat

fingers grab bills, thinking it’ll buy them

more than a Happy Hour special. And the girls

squirt that hose again, welcoming the main act:

Violet in a black corset dancing in a large

martini glass, squeezing that big olive at them.

She takes off her top, revealing pasties, goes for a swim.

Is this Atlantis or Olympus or am I dreaming?

About the Writer

      Dorothy Chan is the author of Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold (Spork Press, forthcoming March 2018) and the chapbook Chinatown Sonnets (New Delta Review, 2017). She was a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, and her work has appeared in Blackbird, Plume, The Journal, Spillway, Little Patuxent Review, The McNeese Review, Salt Hill Journal, and others. Chan is the Assistant Editor of The Southeast Review. Visit her website at

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