Intoxicated British boy, 19, kills Chinese grandfather visiting his daughter by Kristin Chang

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

Fucked sum chink up. Bodied him. I think pure crime scene — his head’s gone*
*Text sent to friends.

the sum of my parts is a hole
heaving rivers of red

             meat.  in wartime, my father learns

gunfire is the whitest
noise.  in wartime, my mother learns

             every man is a dog

set loose inside the body.  the day
I was born someone else

             was dying, my grandfather

empties his body like a bowl
& his language ferments

             in my ear, a wine

rusting my insides, I putrefy
or purify, I always mix up the two

             confessions ant-crawl the crevice

between head & body, in my dreams
I plant a field of heads like lettuce

             & sew them onto fraying necks

without throats, my name
is soundless. I tell my mother

             don’t speak to me

like I’m already gone.  don’t
look at me like I’m already

             an echo
of your eye.  my mother says
every death has been done

             before & after, everyone

still asks: does a fire
without witness

             know it’s a fire & who

cares that I still burn
when I drink too much

             I drink til my head’s gone

& I’m fucked up,
my bones flicked out

             like switchblades, I bleed

on command & you catch
me in handfuls  

             of rubies.  I try to catch

time in the act of killing me,
I try to swallow every fist

             -fight, conceal the chinks

of light I sheathe between my teeth,
my life the crime scene

             & my body,



Based on a real event. Dedicated to Xu Wenqing

Photo of Kristin Chang

Photo of Kristin Chang

Kristin Chang lives in New York. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Teen Vogue, Frontier Poetry, Muzzle Magazine, Tinderbox, and elsewhere. You can find her here and on Twitter @KXinming. Her chapbook Past lives, future bodies is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in fall 2018.